Thursday, December 16, 2010



I'm Kyle. I used to write things here. And then for a while I didn't because I was writing things everywhere else. But today is my wife's birthday and she's been asking me to get back in here and arrange some words, and seeing as how I gave her an alarm clock for her birthday (and by 'gave her an alarm clock' I mean I threw away her working alarm clock and gave her an alarm clock app for her phone and a business card holder to prop it up next to the bed. You are free to write her personally and remind her that she can do SO much better) I thought that the least (pretty much literally) I could do was honor her request.

The truth is, I have a story that's sort of been in the way of me just doing the regular old 'The Kids Peed On Everything' blog entry. It just feels like we need to get this out before we can really move on and today feels like the day. I have a friend who does rock climbing adventure super wilderness camping kind of stuff where you need ropes and gadgetry and willingness to die between Friday and Monday in order to participate. When a simple trip goes completely off the tracks (lightning, bears, dueling banjos) he says 'it turned into an epic'. This, friends, is my epic.

Here's some things you need to know: 1) I do my writing at the University library. 2) Because you cannot park a car within 5000 miles of the University I ride my bike to and from the library. 3) It takes 25 minutes on bike to get to or from the library. 4) If you sell anything 2 for a dollar, I will buy four.

The last one is really where the trouble starts. I went to a 'food' cart and spent two dollars on four, let's just call them edible grenades, which promptly exploded upon contact with my insides. The thing is, I was already feeling a little off after the first two, but having paid for the others I felt compelled to finish them all. Having done so I started looking for a good place to die.

There's a nice big lawn in the center of the University that sits in the shadow of the clock tower. Students gather there to eat, nap, and talk about how hard it is to get up for 10am classes. I found a nice sunny spot in the middle, laid down, and tried to keep my moaning and writhing as inconspicuous as possible. Despite my efforts, I soon noticed a halo developing around me as other students edged away from the guy clutching at the grass and rolling around like housecat on acid.

The thing about these kinds of gut twisting disasters is that as you go through them you repeatedly become convinced you've found a way to cure yourself. Oh, if I just squeeze this leg up toward my shoulder the pain stops! If I PUSH out with my diaphragm while breathing IN I almost feel like I'm not dying! And the most problematic of prescriptions - This is just gas! A gas bubble. That's all. GAS! If I could just pass gas this would all end!

So look, let's not belabor it. You know where this is going. Gas is natural. It takes it's time. You can't force gas. When you force gas, bad things happen. Very bad things. Very bad things happen that suddenly leave you laying in the middle of a very large grass field on a university campus surrounded by cool and happening young people with... well, with shit in your pants.

Obviously, I knew very quickly that I'd made a mistake. But the enormity of my mistake kind of hit me stages. First was the obvious, oh my god, I just crapped in my pants. Second was the, oh my god, I just crapped in my pants in the middle of a crowded field. And third was, oh my god, I just crapped my pants in the middle of a crowded field and I'm a 25 minute BIKE RIDE from clean clothes.

So I started thinking about options. I won't go through them all, because what's important is that I settled on the idea that really I just needed to part company with my underwear and everything was going to be cool. But where do you ditch your underwear in the middle of a college campus (which, let me just point out is not a question you imagine yourself wrestling with when you wake up on a Wednesday morning)? A restroom seemed ideal, but the only ones I knew of were in the library which was more crowded and densely packed than the field, not to mention a long walk away. No, I decided that a dumpster was what was called for.

The field is surrounded by buildings and in the past I'd cut through an alleyway where I remembered seeing a dumpster. I just had to get there and I'd be home free. Now, I don't want to get specific, but let's just say that things felt delicate and precarious down there, like you probably didn't want move very far or very fast or a bad situation was going to get worse. I also wasn't super sure how things LOOKED from the outside so I didn't really just want to stand up and start walking before I had to. So what followed was about a fifteen minute series of scoots and short crab walks designed not to make it look like I was crawling around with crap in my pants, but that I was just really indecisive about where I wanted to sit and kept deciding, that, no, I think I'd be happier if I was just a LITTLE closer to the edge of this field.

Unfortunately, there's not a good way to carry your bag when you're crab walking unless you put it on your stomach, sort of like a moving table with your bag on the top. Further, there were so many people out, I couldn't just get to the edge in a straight line, I had to crab walk AROUND clumps of students. So, you know, imagine eating your lunch with your pals and discussing finals week when a man crab walks toward and around you with his laptop bag on his chest. You probably stare a little bit. He probably smiles as if to say, 'oh, don't mind me, just out for a crab walk. Just seeing what it would feel like to be a moving table.' You probably keep staring, and maybe stop talking to each other and just focus on staring and he probably starts to feel you staring and maybe smiles more and waves some and possibly says "What's up?" because that's how he imagine you young people talk. And you probably mumble and then decide to just get the hell out of there.

So yes, thusly, I reached the edge of the field. Now I just needed to cross a sidewalk, head between two buildings and then turn into the alleyway where the dumpster was going to solve all my problems. As weird as it was to crab walk the field, it felt like it was going to be doubly so on the sidewalk, so I decided that I was just going to have to bite the bullet and walk. I sort of... situated myself in a way that felt like everything would hold together long enough to get to the dumpster, stood up and hung my bag behind me, and walked as fast as I could, but NOT TOO FAST, between the buildings.

I got to the alley, found the dumpster and felt the way I imagine people must feel upon crossing the finish line in ultramarathons. There's joy and relief, but also a bit of righteous indignation directed at no one in particular. 'You thought I couldn't crab walk over to this mother f'ing dumpster? Well F you! I crab walked the shit out that field. I'm at this dumpster you sons of bitches! Take that!'

All of which faded as I began to contemplate the task now at hand. I mean, yes I was at the dumpster, but in order to part with my underwear I was going to need to completely disrobe from the waist down. In an alley. On a college campus. At noon.

At first I thought, no, that's crazy. I can't do that. It's CRAZY. But then I remembered all the work it took to get here, and how much work it would take to get anywhere else, and that my only other option was more walking followed by a LONG bike ride, and suddenly getting naked by the dumpster started to seem really reasonable.

So, here's the thing. It is an alley, but it's also a little bit of a shortcut which is why I'd been down it before. It's not frequently traveled, but it's also not UNTRAVELED. As I contemplated my next move two or three stray people came through with just enough frequency that I felt like once I committed myself I was going to have to get things done FAST to avoid a run in. My theory was, I should wait for a person to pass through, and somehow that would give me the maximum interval to work with before the next person passed through. So I waited and waited and waited, but no one came. And the entire time I was waiting I was calculating how many times I could have already gotten out of my clothes, but also probably have fashioned new ones from things in the dumpster. But every time I reached for my belt and committed to finally going NOW, I was sure someone was just around the corner and I always opted to wait it out.

Finally, a guy came by, seemed to wonder briefly why I was hanging out by the dumpster (I tried to give off a studying vibe, but it didn't seem to take) and then he was gone. So, this was it. It was now or never. I slipped off my shoes. Took a deep breath and undid my belt and then... went for it.

I yanked my pants down and had them off in a flash. And then I pulled off the underwear and... again I don't want to be any more graphic than I have to, so let's just say I was using them to... clean up.

And that's when I heard the GASP.

I turned around and sure enough, there was a very nice young woman, frozen stiff, a horrified look on her face, staring at me naked by a dumpster with my underwear in my hand.

There was a moment where we were both too shocked to say anything, but then I realized that the look on her face was a particular brand of horror. Not just, gee, that's gross, but, OH MY GOD, PERVERT! I felt compelled to explain that, no, no, I'm not a pervert, I'm just a normal adult who ate bad pizza rolls, crapped his pants in a crowded field and crab walked to a dumpster to dispose of his underwear. There's really nothing to be frightened of at all!

But I didn't get out a word before she turned and ran off in the direction she'd come. And I don't know if I've communicated the look on her face properly, but it suddenly felt like she wasn't just running to avert her eyes, but running because she thought this was a situation that demanded attention, a situation that called for pulling one of those little handles on the emergency boxes all over campus and telling the authorities about the naked deviant by the dumpster so they could haul him away and generate headlines like 'Former Lone Star Creator found bottomless by University Dumpster'.

That's when I sort of panicked. I threw the underwear in, and then inexplicably felt like, wait, no, I can't leave those here, they're covered in DNA! They'll test my underwear and they'll know it was me! So I sort of went in after them before I came to my senses and decided to just move a trashbag on top of them (they'd never think to look UNDER a trashbag!). Then I whipped on my pants and I ran as fast as a man going commando in his jeans can run. I got to my bike, unlocked it, and rode away feeling like the entire police department was closing in on me and arrived home in far less than the usual 25 minutes.

When I got out of the shower I faced questions from Amy about my early appearance at home, and was I just not writing well today, and would it help if she took the kids out for a while? And I looked at her as I imagined the helicopters circling overhead and the CSI team testing my underwear in some lab and thought what an amazing person she was and how quickly, and rightly, she would run away if she knew she was married to a man who not only crapped his pants, but would eventually give her an alarm clock APP for her birthday. I am as lucky to have her as she is unlucky to have me.

Happy Birthday?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ask Me About Vomiting At The Austin Film Festival!

This weekend is the Austin Film Festival. I'll be on three panels including one that I think is literally called: Lone Star - What Went Wrong? I have to say that one of my new goals in life is to be on a panel where the name of my show isn't immediately followed by the words 'What Went Wrong?'. Anyway, by the end of the hour I'm sure we'll have it all figured out and the show will be back on the air.

Speaking of things going wrong (that's called a segue and anytime it's done that smoothly you know you're dealing with a really great writer) I just wanted to bring you up to speed on an incredible new negotiating tactic the twins have been using that might be of use to you in your daily life. It's called vomiting? Have you heard of this?

Basically, one of them got sick about a week ago (I can't remember who, they really look incredibly similar), threw up in her bed, and then just moved into her sister's bed without saying a word. When Amy discovered this in the morning she told that twin 'Honey, if you throw up in bed you should say something and I'll come down and change your sheets and clothes.' Can you guess what happened next?

For a week both twins have been forcing themselves to throw up multiple times each night in order to get us to come down and change their sheets and clothes. Apparently young kids have a very sensitive gag reflex that they can trigger just with a hard cough. So a couple times a night you'll hear AHEM! followed by 'Mommy, I threw up in my bed!'.

I should point out that the twins have both been declared 100% medically fine. Not sick in the least. Just really, really evil. So we've had to reverse course and tell them that they have to STOP this and no matter what we will NOT be coming down for any more vomiting in bed. We gave them each trashcans in the event that they had to throw up and for a couple nights all was quiet. Then last night Nixie tested us with a big AHEM! followed by the news that she'd thrown up in her bed. It's really, really, really hard not to move when you child says that, but if we don't teach them that you can't vomit to get what you want, who will? On the flip side, if they win and it keeps working I'm just going to take it up myself. You have notes I don't like? Vomiting on your desk. So, you know, think about that when you've got your red pen out.

Anyway, if we see each other this weekend (What? He segued back the Film Festival? How? It's black magic! He's a witch!) and you want to hand me a drink, or a offer me a place to take a nap that doesn't smell like vomit we can totally be best friends. And if you don't want to be best friends with the vomit covered creator of a failed television show I really have to ask what you hope to get out of coming to a film festival.

They've asked me to post my itinerary- I guess so you know how to steer clear. It's below:
FRIDAY, 10/22
The Black List
Driskill Hotel, Ballroom
The Black List: what is it, how to get on it, and what it can mean for your career.
Matthew Cook, Kyle Killen, Franklin Leonard, Malcolm Spellman, Tim Talbott
Moderated by Andy Langer
Creating a TV Bible & Pilot to Get You in the Room
Driskill Hotel, Ballroom
Top show creators and producers discuss what goes into creating a TV bible that will get you in the door. How much information should you include? Writing the pilot, character breakdowns, establishing worlds and how many episodes, if any, to include.
Sterling Anderson, Kyle Killen, Jorge Zamacona
Moderated by Monte Williams

SUNDAY, 10/24

“Lone Star”

Alamo Ritz

Screening of the short-lived 20th Century Fox Television pilot followed by a discussion with Kyle Killen, show creator/writer/executive producer, about the TV industry, how it works, and how a show with so much promise - great press coverage (the cover of the NYT, no less!), great reviews, great writing, great cast - got cancelled after only 2 episodes.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lone Star Loves You, Even From The Grave

Wednesday was the first time I'd been in Austin on a weekday in almost six months. One of the twins woke me by saying "No one watch Daddy's show?" I said, no, I'm afraid not. The other twin said, "Not even a little people?" Sorry. No. And then one said, "So this means you be here now?" And I thought, yes, yes I will.

So see, even a mushroom cloud has a silver lining.

The truth of the matter is, shows come and go every year. Good ideas, bad ideas, whatever. They all get a run, people find them or they don't, and the world keeps turning. I'm incredibly grateful that we were given an opportunity to try a premise that, as the numbers seem to confirm, was perhaps a little riskier than I estimated. But I enjoyed every minute of it and would gladly do it all again and just the same, because, well, I'm just that stupid.

Except, well, I lied when I said I enjoyed every minute of it. There were a few minutes there at the end which I didn't enjoy. Moments that will bother me for a long time to come. Moments I guess I never really thought I'd have to deal with.

When you're just a guy in a room thinking 'wouldn't it be cool if...' everything is theoretical. But when your 'if' becomes a show, it gets very real. There's a cast and crew and... like, accountants and things, all showing up everyday to make that 'if' a show. And those are the people I had to face and apologize to for the fact that my 'if' had been such a spectacular failure that they were now out of a job a mere two weeks after we hit the air. Again, it happens all the time, but that didn't make it easy. At all.

So here's the thing. We made a good show. Not Shakespeare. Not MASH. But something I was proud of. I can't really speak to anyone else's reaction, I can only be honest about my own. We assembled a staff, a cast, and a crew that I think was committed to telling interesting and thought provoking stories and who were excited about where we'd planned to head. And now it's over. The part of me that feels awful that these people are now out of work wishes they'd done anything other than join this show. The part of me that's so excited about what we did can't thank them enough for signing on and making it happen.

As for the show's future, if you read the news you know what I know. We're actively looking at other homes for it, but those situations are rare. Imagine trying to just jam the engine from a Toyota in a Chevy and you get some idea how hard it is to take a show from one network to another. These things are custom jobs and what looks simple on the surface requires an incredible amount of engineering underneath. Whether we'll pull something like that off is anyone's guess. But we're certainly trying.

Lastly, I literally don't have the words to thank those of you who participated here and on twitter and facebook and, you know, the real world, in supporting the show. I've been in the habit of writing incredibly inane things in this space for some time and have to say that I was blindsided by the scale of the reaction to my last post. Of all the incredible and unexpected things to come out of this entire process, those last few days were perhaps the most incredible and certainly the least expected. I feel like we tried to get a write in candidate elected president together, and while we were completely and utterly destroyed when the votes were tallied, I've never felt such an odd and full connection to a group of people I've never met and likely never will. Given all that, 'Thank you' seems woefully insufficient to convey my gratitude. Perhaps I can just mow all your lawns for the hell of it.

In the meantime, from the bottom of my everything-

Thank you.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

You're Invited To Our Stunning Upset

Do you like to root for the underdog? Because I've got an underdog of epic proportions for you. We're talking long, long shot. Like a legless horse in the Kentucky Derby. A blind basketball team facing the 95 Bulls. If somehow Rudy and Rocky had a baby it still wouldn't be as big an underdog as our little show... Lone Star.

You may have heard about last Monday night when several heavily sequined, dancing celebrity, conspiracy laden, bowling shirted nuclear bombs landed directly on our heads. When everyone who watched your show is a paid critic or someone you went to high school with, that's less of a premiere than a slideshow.

But! BUT!

But here we are. Still alive. A little groundhog peeking out of a bomb crater to see if there's six more weeks of nuclear winter or if, perhaps, something can grow in this hole. And that's where you come in.

For us to survive we're going to have to pull off a minor miracle. Statistically, new shows tend to lose viewers in their second week. We're aiming to gain them. In fact, screw it, let's just double our audience. The good news is, our audience was so small that if my Mom AND my Dad watch it we'll pretty much be there.

Here's the thing: it really is a good show. Don't take it from me, take if from these guys here and here and lots of other places. Are these all just people in ivory towers with tweed jackets and glasses of scotch who hate America? Possibly! But my Mom also loved it and she LOVES America just like you.

I'm not going to beg. I'll mow your lawn or offer you some sort of sensual massage, but I won't beg. The truth is, what we need to do is nearly impossible. I've heard and read that a million times since Tuesday morning. But isn't that why we watch television? Sports? Movies? To, every once in a while, see something impossible actually happen? Impossible is AWESOME! Am I right? High five!

So here's the plan. You go deep. All of you. You and millions of your friends. And Monday night, down by a lot with only seconds on the clock, we'll throw the ball up, an impossibly long arcing pass into a host of defenders who are taller and flashier and stronger and probably more well endowed than all of us, and maybe, just maybe, it's one of those moments where the thing everyone said COULD NOT HAPPEN actually just... does. And you my friend, you could say you were there, you and all your friends, just taking one big Gatorade bath with the millions of people who, like you, decided to say 'F you' to statistics and just settle in for a damn good hour of television.

So spread the word. Repost, retweet, re...faceboook or just put on your crazy pants and head down to the freeway exit and shout at cars like I'm going to.

Monday night.


Mark it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On The Eve Of My Potential Trouncing - A Message From Poop On The Shoe

When I was in high school I ran for class president. This was not a particularly sharp move on my part. I was not popular or good looking or particularly good at anything (and very little has changed). My most storied accomplishment was that I once went through an entire day with dog shit on my shoe without realizing it despite everyone in every class saying 'what the hell smells like dog shit?'. And then in my last class someone realized it was me, said 'IT'S KYLE!' and after that I was know simply as 'Poop On The Shoe'. I'm no political genius, but if your claim to fame is in any way related to feces, it's going to be an uphill battle.

So, the teacher who controlled the sign up list came to me after school and explained that some other kids had come in to sign up to run for office. Cool kids. Kids who looked like Abercrombie models. Kids who could have a show about them on the CW. And as they debated what to run for they saw my name and said, 'Poop on the shoe? Dude, you can crush poop on the shoe!', and so one of them signed up to take me down and become president. After delivering the news, the teacher asked if I still wanted to run. I said yes. He said, "I'm proud of you, poop. You'll lose, but I'm proud of you."

One night before Lone Star premiers it feels like that election all over again. I actually have no idea how or why I got here or what to do now that I am. I feel like I'm learning to juggle with live grenades and the competition suddenly looks like a bunch of cool kids who see an easy out. It's likely they will crush us and the sound you hear will be a large number of people in nice suits and plush offices slapping their heads in unison and saying 'What the hell were we thinking?' 'I knew that guy was a moron?' 'I know. And is it just me or did he kind of smell like dog shit?'

All I can tell you is that no matter how quickly they pull the plug, I'm proud of the mess they let me make. I'm proud of the reviews which have been incredibly kind and positive, and which I am having tattooed all over my body. I'm proud of our cast and crew and writers, all of whom could have pursued other, safer bets, and instead have placed their eggs in this basket. And I'm proud of our network for wallpapering the planet with advertisements for a show that doesn't have a single doctor, lawyer, cop, or car chase. I'm not saying any of these people have made good decisions, just that I'm proud of them.

So, Monday night people will vote with their remotes and we'll win or we'll lose and that will be that. I was peed on three separate times today (by my children you sicko) so I feel grounded enough to handle either outcome. Whichever way it breaks, I can't say thank you enough to those of you who've been reading and supporting me for so long. The comments and messages I've received from you, long before Lone Star was a twinkle in Fox's eye, have been rocket fuel at numerous times when I felt stranded by the side of the road. I hope we accomplish a lot of things tomorrow night, but mostly I hope we don't let you down.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Press And Other Crippling Embarrassments

Last week I sat down with a reporter for the NY Times who was doing a feature about the show. The idea that my name could end up in the NY TIMES!!! without it being about me having a lot of heads in my freezer seemed far fetched. I thought of how proud my parents would be and how unimpressed my children would be. I dressed nice (belly shirt), I thought of really clever things to say, I debated buying a pipe just to smoke it while I relayed fascinating anecdote after fascinating anecdote.

Every time I answered a question the reporter looked like she was sniffing a jug of rotten milk. THAT? THAT'S YOUR ANSWER? was the general sense that I got from her. She had a tape recorder going but after about five minutes it ran out of tape. She leaned down to put a new one in and then stopped and said, "it's fine, if you say anything interesting I'll remember it." Five minutes later, when I had failed to say anything interesting, she was gone. It appears I will have to kill someone to actually make the Times. I knew that I was boring, it's just a little painful to have it confirmed by a journalist.

We're also doing panels and such with the whole cast of the show. I don't know if you've seen the cast of our show, but I'll give you a second to look them up. They're pretty hot. Especially Jon Voigt. As a slightly less than normal looking human being, let me tell you that it's very difficult to sit on a stage with that bunch and not feel like a gargoyle. When reporters say they have a question for the 'ugly guy in the belly shirt' it rattles your self confidence.

Doing TV is like an eight day a week job that I try to do in 5 so that I can occasionally see my wife and offspring (unless you're Aaron Sorkin in which case you probably do it in 3 and a half and then take a long nap). We had a family vacation planned that I ended up only being able to drop in on which was both great and sad. My major contribution to my children's development seems to be the fact that Ripples now says 'Goddammit' with shocking regularity, mostly when we're in restaurants and mostly at the top of her lungs. It's sad to see photos of the whole thing and realize I was only there for a sliver of it and that sliver mostly involved cursing.

That sliver also came with bad weather so that my flight out of the mountains was cancelled and I had to take a six hour bus ride to another airport and then spend the night on the floor next to a bathroom so that I could get to LA to appear next to our beautiful cast and answer questions. Any media consultant will tell you that the thing you want to try to do before you face a crowd of bored, tired, slightly angry journalists is spend the previous 34 hours awake on busses and airport floors. It puts you right at the top of your game. If you google my name and the word spectacular you simply come across headlines about me calling the show a 'spectacular failure' which any marketing consultant will tell you is exactly how you want to sell something that hasn't aired yet.

The truth is, four years ago I was pulling cable through laundromat ceilings. Every day that I put on my belly shirt and drive to the studio to find that there's still a parking space with my name on it is a great day. I'm confident that mere weeks after you actually see the show that parking space will go away and I'll find the door to my office lock changed with a little note that says 'Sorry, finally realized you're a moron,'. Until then I will keep boring journalists and ruining cast photos because frankly I'm excited about the opportunity to make not just a mess, but a BIG mess.

I have a friend who's really into very high end, super competitive kickball. Like, the grade school kickball, but played by really athletic adults. And they invited me out to play and I thought, this is going to be awesome. I pictured balls flying over fences and diving catches and people being plonked in the head with concussion causing force.

But it turns out that the way you win at super competitive high end kickball is to bunt. Over and over you just tap the ball down the third base line and beat it to first. It's STUNNINGLY boring. When it was my turn I asked why we didn't just kick the hell out of it. We're ADULTS! Couldn't we kick it over buildings and things? He told me that really it's hard to get the ball over the fence. When you really kick it you usually end up just popping it up where is lands softly in someone's arms. I found this hard to believe, so I went up, kicked away, and then watched it sail high and get caught by the shortstop for an easy out. My team was deeply disappointed in me.

The point is, I really don't belong in this office any more than I belonged on that kickball field. And I'm actually fine with being an easy out in both places. But if you're only going to get one shot at the plate, you don't bunt. If you hate the show and we get cancelled after the first night, I'm totally cool with that. I just want you to know we were trying to put it over the fence.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Two years ago we hired an au pair because I found out that, unlike day care, they didn't charge by the child.

This week, despite my six month effort to shove her into a loveless greencard marriage, we said goodbye to her.

In between Stacey was more than a part of the family, she was like the leg that kept us from falling over. She was also like an arm, a foot, and in many ways she was a pelvis. The point is, her going felt less like a goodbye and more like an amputation. She's the limb you can still feel despite it being gone (I assume you're all amputees and you can relate to this idea). The girls keep saying "Stacey on plane" and pointing each time one goes by as if she's just been circling around up there and any particular aluminum tube might be the one to bring her back.

One of the things I find particularly shitty about getting older is that you learn that everything eventually passes. The best summer ever, the worst day of your life, these are all just things that end up in your file. The things or the people you felt like you'd DIE without or DIE because of when you're a teenager (when it seems like threatening to DIE is all you do), you learn, in fact, you will live through. I mean Life Goes On is a great lesson and all, but there's something lost when you realize that all those hours spent moaning while listening to Cure albums are just a phase, a coping mechanism, and that the things you hold the most dear, the closest to your heart, even those things will someday fade.

So look, Stacey's not dead. She's back in South Africa. We're going to miss her. She's going to miss us. And then one day, she won't. One day she'll get a job she's excited about or meet a boy better than I was able to procure via Craigslist and all of this, the good, the bad, and the goodbye, all of it will feel a little less near, a little less raw, until eventually, it will be a chapter in a book she read long ago and rarely, if ever, gets off the shelf. All of which is what should happen, what needs to happen. It's why you don't spend the rest of your life crying after your first date invites another guy along or your second date decides she's a lesbian (I assume this also happened to all of you and that you can relate. And that you're amputees. Writing to a very specific group of you tonight). I'm just saying, sometimes the knowledge that you'll get over something is as disappointing as the thing itself. It makes your devastation feel less real, less necessary. If you get over everything, what really matters?

So for now I'm going to wallow in the sad the same way I always advocate feasting on the happy. I'm going to dig out my Disintegration album and claw at the carpet the way I did when that girl said, Kyle, you've made me realize I just don't really like boys. So Stacey, wherever you are, I hope you're getting over it, and I hope you appreciate that we're choosing not to.

The irony is that when I was so on the fence about even having kids I used joke that we should just adopt an amazing teenager bound for bigger and better things, have her for a year or two, and then get our house back to ourselves. Instead we ended up with twins, a boy, a minivan, and a teenager bound for bigger and better things who we would have adopted a thousand times if only we were allowed. The fact that we couldn't means we'll be scratching at our phantom leg/arm/pelvis for some time.

Totsiens, Stacey.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ponies, Generosity, and Brain Damage

The girls have started pre-school. Given that I'm never actually in town on weekdays I've never been, but I've heard it referred to as a 'hippie school' on multiple occasions. Based on the pictures I get it looks like Lord Of The Flies with watercolors. Just a lot of kids running around painting each other, forming tricycle gangs, and plotting to take over the world. By 11am everyone looks like an extra from a Mad Max movie and then they all sit down and have juice boxes. I'm not clear on if or how any of this is supposed to be educational. Nixie is confident she can count, but actually sounds like she's reciting an international phone number. 1-2- 6-3-6-2-4-1-1.... and on and on until she arbitrarily says ten and you clap.

The first day Amy dropped them off the girls cried. And cried. And then there was more crying. A teacher took each of them separately and showed them around the various stations (this is where you'll paint other children, this is where you'll prepare yourselves for battle, etc) and they continued to cry. And then they spotted each other across the playground and they ran to each other and they hugged and held on to each other. Sisters. Twins. And then there was no crying. There is no point to that story other than to melt your hard cold heart. If you are unmoved you have died and are only now becoming aware of it. My condolences. This is how it happens. The bright white light was a rumor.

The girls have also entered that phase where you have to kiss all of their injuries to make them better and because they go to a freeform warrior school there are a lot of injuries. The other day I was changing Nixie and she had a wicked painful diaper rash and she was sobbing and sobbing, and then she started to yell 'Kiss IT, Kiss IT!" For years I wouldn't share a soda with my wife for fear of germs, but when a crying little girl asks you to kiss her ass, you just do. That's the best way I can describe the special kind of brain damage that is fatherhood. It's probably also the only reason anyone buys a pony.

Despite the fact that they look alike and are often dressed alike, the girls are beginning to differentiate themselves. Somehow Ripley seems to have gotten all of Amy and I's (Amy and my? Amy and your? Were you involved? That's weird) stinginess. We're just not generous people. We've been known to use a ruler when splitting a cookie. Both our brothers are the opposite, and both of us took horrible advantage of this growing up. I remember pocketing my allowance and convincing mine to buy us both candy. Which he did with a smile. These are the genes Nixie received. If Ripley cries, Nixie gives her the rest of her milk. If Nixie cries Ripley comes and takes her milk. Nixie says 'for you'. Ripley says 'MINE!'. I would worry about it more if I didn't know that someday Ripley will crack. Someday someone will yell "Kiss it!" and she will without a second thought.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Should You Have Children

The other day someone wrote to ask if they should have children. I appreciated this. I wish more people would write to ask if they should do things. I like having a vote in things that don’t really concern me that I’m not qualified to talk about. It makes me feel like an elected official. Anyway, this is what I told them:

Having children is like deciding to move to a foreign country. Everything is strange and noisy, you don’t speak the language, there’re a million rules you don’t understand, and the minute you cross the border you realize you can never go back. Things are different than they were back home. You can’t get that thing you used to love or go to that place you always went. For a long time those differences will drive you crazy.

And then slowly you’ll look around your new country and see it for what it is, not for how it compares to where you moved from. You’ll start to see it has an awesomeness all its own. Some pointy mountains over here, a nice lake over there, and that bird looking thing down there, all of this will become appealing to you. It will never be like where you were, it will always be someplace new, but eventually it will feel like home and to your surprise you will find yourself writing to friends in the old country telling them to move here both because it is awesome and so you will feel less alone.

You will show them pictures of the mountains and lakes you’ve discovered and their eyes will glaze over and you will say, ‘but it’s such a CUTE mountain! And you should see it at bedtime!’. And they will likely smile at your little mountain and then go out drinking at some bar in the country you used to love with people you used to drink in bars with. And maybe you will wonder – do I really belong here? And you will look at the mountains and know they are yours and you will think OF COURSE I belong here. And then the mountains will vomit on you and you will want to go home. This will continue for twenty years.

In the end, moving is a huge decision, and there’s no right answer. You can live right where you are forever and always find something new and cool to see. And if you want to stay, stay – the world has plenty of mountains. But if some spirit of adventure or broken piece of contraception spurs you to move, my guess is you’ll eventually be quite happy in your new land. If nothing else, you’ll get to name everything after yourself.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Lonestar One Word Or Two?

Dear Blog,

I was just looking through you for some evidence that I've been working on a television show that I sold last August, wrote last fall, and shot a pilot for this spring. But it doesn't look like I told you any of this. Probably because at each step I was sure it wasn't going any further and so it seemed less important than telling you about what my kids had thrown up that day.

Anyway, I did all those things and now you will be able to enjoy/hate the fruits of our labor this fall. Knowing me as many of you do you probably find it distressing that a large corporation like Fox would devote airtime to something that had fallen out of my head and dried on pieces of paper. You probably want to rush out and sell your Newscorp stock. That's fair. I'll wait. Now that your retirement portfolio is safe, let me just say that, well, I think the show's actually going to be pretty good. Maybe not Seinfeld good, but at least Rhoda good. If Rhoda was a drama about bigamy.

The downside is that we'll have to write all the episodes in LA which means that for the foreseeable future I'll be spending weekdays there and weekends at home. Amy is excitset about this, which is a new emotion she created that's equal parts excited and upset. Excited that there will finally be a show about bigamy on a major network. Upset that she will be alone with three children when it airs on Monday nights.

My absences have also taken a toll on the house. All the little things that used to get fixed when I was here and we were both just oozing free time seem to be permanently backburnered. I may have mentioned that our microwave started to beep randomly and turn itself on and off at will, just spreading noise and radiation around the house. But it's screwed into the cabinets which really makes taking it in a bigger task than Amy's up for or I have time for so it just continues to beep and cook air. There's also a window about halfway down our stairs that you can't actually reach, the sill of which snagged a piece of clothing we threw over the balcony to be washed. Since then we've just been throwing more clothes at the original stuck item to try to dislodge it. The result is a heap of clothing that runs about halfway up the window which grows each day. Again, a few minutes to dig out the ladder would probably fix it, but when you're just here two days a week you tend to hope that you're just one more piece of clothing away from starting the avalanche that will liberate everything.

Anyway, I'm excited. I'm sure we'll be canceled in short order once someone realizes their mistake, and then I'll have all the time in the world to fix microwaves and get clothes out of windows. Until then, I'm going to be paid to surround myself with brilliant people and make stuff up. Given that five years ago I was working in construction and crawling around in laundromat ceilings, I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'll See You In Hell, Vacation

Yesterday as I was walking through the airport with two screaming children in my arms, another screaming child strapped to my chest, and large amounts of luggage trailing behind me I felt like I should get Trojan to sponsor all of our family activities. For small fee I would gladly wear sign that read: Don't Want To End Up Like This Asshole? Wear A Condom! I predict sales would skyrocket in my wake. Forget condoms, I could convince people to join the priesthood.

The following is an account of what I hope will remain THE WORST VACATION EVER. If anything else rises up and claims the title, I hope it kills me. The plan was simple: take the whole gang to Mexico for what may be one of the last weeks I have off for some time to come. We did not get far before the problems began.

At the airport it turned out that Stacey had not gotten the proper paperwork to leave the country although we discussed the need to do so at length over the course of the months leading up to the day. So instead of taking along an extra pair of hands, we were already down a man and out hundreds of dollars in non refundable air and hotel fees. AWESOME!

Those of us who remained were on the plane for about ten minutes before Ripples began to throw up. Only then did I understand the phrase Projectile Vomiting. As Amy struggled to clean everything out of her lap I had to point out that it was also all over the back of the seat in front of us. Blowing Chunks also suddenly made sense.

We repeated the vomiting while eating in the airport during our plane change, then again on our next flight where the flight attendant berated Amy, an er doctor, about the importance of hydrating Ripples. By the time we got to Mexico everything we owned was covered in vomit.

Then we got to customs. Let's not even talk about the line. The line is child's play. The line is the sort of thing you complain about when you have nothing else to really complain about. The only important thing about the line is the fact that we were literally the last people in it. And when we got to counter it turned out that Amy, doctor Amy, planning super mom Amy, had neglected to actually look at her own passport, which was EXPIRED. This led to our vomit covered family being pulled into some sort of interview room at midnight in Mexico where it turned out that the price of trying to get into Mexico with an expired passport is a 'tip' for 47$ and ten Euros. Let me just say that if you haven't bribed a mexican official while wearing a four month old you really haven't lived.

The next day, mother's day, we were at least there, on vacation, at the beach, ready to HAVE FUN. Except it wasn't. Ever. At all. Ripples began to break out in some sort of rash to accompany her fever and vomiting. Mars got in on the fever thing and cried and cried, and then cried more. The whole day is just a blur of crying and screaming and sludge like strawberry daiquiris. All I know is that it ended at dinner with our friends and their children. Six adults v. six children. I cannot describe to you the horror of that evening except to say that if cyanide pills had been on the menu I would have ordered them as an appetizer. If I had been another patron in the restaurant I would have murdered us all with my butter knife. Also, let me just say now, once and for all, I hate asian food. Fuck asian food.

That night we laid in various beds with various children and did not sleep, but listened to them scream. When they screamed for Mommy even when mommy was holding them I knew that we were not going to make it. In the morning Amy changed our flight and began to pack. Suddenly the amount of money wasted on Stacey's paperwork aborted trip looked minuscule, and the amount we were wasting to get out of ours looked worth it. Had I known what was coming, I would have rethought my bribe to get into the country. When the official said, "what should we do about this situation?" I would have just asked if they had separate prisons for adults and children.

Anyway, we were going home! Yay! And we had a little more time to play at the beach and the pool. Yay! So while Amy packed, the girls and I went swimming. Except Ripley didn't like the water so she kept trying to pull a large umbrella down on herself while Nixie swam. Until Nixie wasn't swimming, and I heard people mumbling things and suddenly running toward the pool and looked up to see her floating face down in the middle. I joined the herd of people jumping in, pulled her up, got her out of the pool and found her extremely confused, but after a little coughing and spitting, completely fine. Her swimming companion seemed far more traumatized just for having witnessed the panic of adults flying into a pool. Let me just say a couple things about face down floating children: I cannot imagine a more primal terror than looking into a pool and seeing it, but the look on your wife's face when she sees you having to pull one of the children you were supposed to be watching out of a pool because they are floating face down is a feeling of personal failure on par with little else. In addition to blowing chunks, and projectile vomiting, the phrase 'I just looked away for a second' has new meaning.

But then, but then, we were headed home. At which point the girls began to practice a form of non-violent resistance right out of a civil rights demonstration. Basically, anytime we needed them to go somewhere, they laid on the ground and forced you to drag them like luggage. Which is what we did, along with the actual luggage. Which is what we were doing when I realized I looked like a walking advertisement for castration.

And now it's over. I'm home. We're home. Alive. Safe. All that stuff. But... I don't know. I think we're a lot worse off. At some point in the past I think I thought or wrote or read somewhere (who the hell knows) that having kids was like starting a business. And you take this person you love and you essentially make them a business partner. And at some point all you can talk about is the business. I can't recall a SINGLE SECOND of our trip where Amy and I weren't talking about one of the kids and the various ways in which they were trying to kill us. I was on a beach in Mexico in the general area of the woman I love and I don't think we so much held hands unless it was to exchange a dirty diaper or pawn off a screaming child. Is it heartwarming to see your daughters scream at the waves to 'go away' as they roll in and 'come back' as they roll away? Yes. Is Nixie incredibly sweet and Ripples fiendishly clever and Mars capable of smiling with his whole body? Yes. Is it enough? No. Not for me.

A long time ago a friend told me about all the things he was going to continue to do after he had children. His logic was, they're joining my life, I'm not joining theirs, so they'll just have to do what I do. And while it's true, you can make your children follow you anywhere, they can beat you at your own game. They can make you hate the very things you used to love. That's a scary powerful kind of voodoo.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

12 Hugs

I'm going through a hugging phase.

Last week I was home for 6 WHOLE DAYS and took the girls to a gymnastics class where their teacher explained that children needed 12 hugs per day for 'growth'. This seemed oddly specific. 10 hugs would shrink them? 14 would get them in the WNBA? She wasn't clear what the consequences for missing the mark were, just that 12 was the magic number.

Personally, little rules like this hold a lot of attraction for me. When I was in high school I read that keeping your hands in your pockets made you look weak and shifty. Since I felt like I looked extremely weak and very shifty it was a revelation to think that this might all just be the fault of my POCKETS! So I started pinning them closed to keep me from getting my hands in there. But it turned out that if I couldn't pocket my hands they just tended to flop around so that it looked like I was doing a little dog paddle as I roamed the halls. Weak and shifty or groping at the air like an escaped mental patient. Those were my choices for navigating high school. It was very difficult to find a prom date.

Anyway, I've taken up the challenge of 12 hugs per day to maintain my own 'growth'. This was super easy at home as the girls will hug anything upon request. "Nixie? Can you hug the remote control? Good. Now can you hug it while you walk to dad? Great."

Now that I'm back in LA it's way more difficult. I'm not really a hugger by nature. I'm more of a 'can't I just send you an email?' type. As the end of a day rolls around and I realize I've only bagged 10 hugs I have to start figuring out which of the people left it's going to be least awkward to hug. Will the sound mixer think it's odd if we hug goodbye? Will the security guard report me? Last night I only made it to 11 and I just couldn't find anyone else to hug. Three days ago I'd never heard of this rule, and now I'm laying in bed thinking of calling the front desk for a hug just to put me over the top.

Then this morning I was walking through an underpass (despite the lyrics, some people do walk in LA; the ones who are so cheap they'd rather walk than have to tip the valet to get their car back) and I passed a box with two buttons. One marked ACKNOWLEDGE and the other marked RESET. It was like an existential control panel. ACKNOWLEDGE, RESET. So I pushed the first one and then the second one, and then I felt like I probably shouldn't have pushed either and I ran for several blocks before the authorities could show up.

The point is, life is so complicated and messy that I love the idea you can somehow navigate it by just repeating a series of simple tasks. 8 glasses of water, 12 hugs, pin your pockets closed, mash some buttons under the freeway, and you're all set. Or reset according to the buttons.

As of today, we're done with the pilot. It's been an amazing experience, and no matter which way things go, the next few months are going to get complicated. Amy and I have been worrying about how we'd deal with the various eventualities. Now, I plan to just focus on hugging my way through it. If we see each other it would be great if you could spare one. Or twelve.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010



It's me. I'm at home. In my house. Where I used to live. Of course this is just temporary. Staying here wouldn't make any sense. No. Tomorrow I will leave again to go to some other place where I don't live because that's what I do. And why? All so I can entertain you. You're welcome.

Last month we made a TV show, me and a bunch of my friends. Honestly, they did most of the work. I ate things. If eating things is a job then I did the work of many people. I don't know enough about making television to know if eating things actually is a job, so I'm unable to tell you how valuable my contribution to the process really was. But I ate anyway. While I ate other people acted and pointed cameras at one another and turned lights on and off and someone yelled 'action' and 'cut' and then someone else yelled 'please don't put that flaming space heater next to those gas pumps' because I was trying to help and had put a flaming space heater next to some gas pumps. After that I went back to eating.

Now that it's over, I miss it very much. In my real life no one says things just because I write them down and give them to them, even though I've stressed how much easier this would make all our lives. No one asks if I want anything to drink or eat or if they can get my dry cleaning. No one

See that? The little space between this line and the last? That's two days in that little space. If I remember right I was in mid sentence and Mars started crying and I went to attend to him and POOF, a space. That's exactly how my life feels these days. You're right in the middle of something and then something else comes along and by the time you look up there's just this... space between where you were and where you suddenly are. In that particular space up there I left home. Rented my insanely blue rental car. Checked into my hotel. Began to eat doughnuts for breakfast all over again. Let me stress that blue cars and hotels and donuts are awesome and that having someone else make my bed is the only way my bed has ever been made. I'm a lucky individual and I'm well aware of it, and if my lamentations about constant travel indicate otherwise, then allow me to make it clear: I love my job and I'm happy to have it, however long it lasts.

But. Before I left Nixie was getting off the bed. Whenever the girls climb down from things we say 'Be careful Nixie' or 'Careful Ripley' or 'Careful whoever you are' because we're good parents who want our children to be safe but also have trouble telling them apart. Anyway, Nixie was getting off the bed, and as she did, she very calmly said to herself 'Careful, me'.

If you have a soul you'll understand that's just incredibly fucking cute. And you'll understand how no matter how much you love a job, it's hard to leave moments like that in the spaces that result from it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Shakes

We shoot a show in two weeks that still doesn't have half of its cast. Everyone assures me this is totally normal. I find it mildly terrifying and have developed a nervous shake that has more than once caused people in a room with me to look up and ask if we're in the midst of an earthquake.

The shake may have more to do with my diet than stress. Left to my own devices I eat like nine year old. I've had only donuts and monster during daylight hours this week and last night I literally fell asleep eating cookies in bed. This morning I woke up and discovered a stray cookie under my pillow which I then ate for breakfast. The recession seems to have eliminated the easy access to all things gummy and red vine that being on a studio lot once offered, which is probably for the best. Any more sugar and I'd resemble a meth head with British teeth.

I have a new phone that does things that new phones do like allow me to show pictures and videos of my children to people who I barely know. I've been doing this a lot. Perhaps I have done it to you? I'm the shaky guy with a half eaten pack of donuts begging you to watch my girls ride bikes. At first the technology seemed like an obvious win, but now I feel like there was something to be said for a phone that just made calls. Being able to talk to the people I miss made me feel closer to them. Being able to pull them out of my pocket and watch them dance somehow makes me miss them even more. Progress? Let me get back to you on that.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Irony Of Working On A Show About A Guy Living Two Lives

I'll level with you. My brain went oatmeal on me somewhere around tuesday. I haven't been sleeping alot, and there's at least ten other things I should be doing, eleven if you feel that paying your taxes is important, so you'll have to forgive me if this entry starts to feel more like a letter from a mental hospital than the work of someone paid to arrange words into sentences.

Let me just start by saying that I love my freaking job. I've never been happier to be tired. I wake up from four hours of sleep literally dying to get to work. Except for the night I had some awful Chinese food and woke up literally dying to get to the bathroom. In the past two weeks I've watched incredible actors bring characters and words to life in ways I could never have imagined, had the surreal experiencing of scouting my own hometown for locations, and been invited to a straight up HOLLYWOOD celebrityfest simply because I was dressed so poorly I made the person taking me look good by comparison. I know it's all too good to be true and too fun to last, and every day I'm surprised when I'm not hit by a bus.

However, being a weekend dad, or sometimes fraction of a weekend dad, sucks. Every time I get picked up from the airport I feel like the girls are a foot taller and less sure who I am. I get tears in my eyes when they don't want me to touch them. I get tears in my eyes when they give me a giant hug. I more or less just walk around teary eyed. I used to wonder if I would ever be able to summon the thoughts to cry on camera. Now I'm confident I could be there in about 30 seconds.

Amy has been heroic, as have our parents who now essentially live on our dining room floor. They do all of this so that I can can play pretend with an incredibly talented bunch of strangers. How do you say thanks for that? Fruit basket? Vacation home? I'll ask my assistant.

I don't really have an assistant.

Although, if anyone out there is dying to organize my taxes...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You're Just Going To Give Me This Candy?

You know what's awesome? Making a TV show. Bear in mind that I know as much as you about how to do it, less if you happen to know anything at all, but it's like waaaaay fun. Like being handed a multimillion dollar box of legos and instructions in Urdu (that's a language. I spent about twenty minutes trying to think of a funny sounding language. See how qualified I am for this job?) and then being told that you have six weeks to assemble them in the shape that entertains all of America or you and everyone you know will lose their jobs. High stakes legos, that's my new dream job.

You know what's not awesome? Apparently it's having your husband go play with legos while you tend to three children. Amy and I's conversations have started to fit a pattern: I ramble about meeting this person and starting that thing and how much free soda I'm getting and Amy says that's great and then starts to cry, which she usually only does when having limbs amputated, and then through tears she assures me that REALLY, it's GREAT, and she's 100% totally FINE. It seems Mr. Mars stint as a wonderbaby was short lived and he's begun an anti-sleeping campaign and Amy sits up night after night as he states his case, then greets the girls for a daily dose of two two year olds. She is thus unmoved by news of an unlimited supply of gummy worms.

Hopefully this all magically goes away because, as you know, bad things often magically go away if you completely ignore them and just hope for the best. In the meantime I have legos to stack and gummy to ingest, and all of it will be hard and awful and the fact that it is awesome will be our little secret.

p.s. We still need to talk about Stacey and you people finding her a husband so that she will not go home and get stabbed in the heart with a bicycle spoke. I'm going to get back to you on this, but I'll expect you to have some viable candidates ready next time we chat.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Other New Baby

When, at some future date, you are reading about the poor decision making that led to the demise of Fox Broadcasting you'll know that it started here.

What began as a visit to possibly the flattest and brownest place on Earth will now be at least one hour of television about flatness and brownness. It could all go horribly wrong, but I suspect that at a bare minimum we'll get a pretty trainwreck out of it. It's hard and occasionally forbidden to write about work, but I'll keep you in the loop to the extent possible.

If you wish to send congratulatory cookies I will name extras after you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

If Only I Could Get The Cat And The Kids To Throw Up On Each Other Instead Of Me

Hey Internet,

See how quickly you can fall off the wagon? Add one extra baby and you go from daily to semi-annual posting like that.

Here's some things you should know:

Mars is awesome. He doesn't look or act like any of us and obviously belongs to a family of cute and quiet monks, which is why we plan to keep him forever. His best features are - he never cries, he sleeps all the time, there is only one of him. I really can't stress that last part enough. If you're planning on having children I highly recommend you do it one at a time. One week into life with the twins I had already investigated moving to Canada and changing my name and twice caught Amy putting her luggage in the car in the middle of the night 'just to make sure it still fit'. One week into Mars and no one is trying to escape, though there has been talk of pre-pre-pre boarding school for the girls on some other continent.

The girls love Mars. They love to scream at him, and squeeze him, and poke him in the eye. Their growing vocabulary has collapsed to a single word. BABY! They wake up and go to bed saying it, and scream it every second in between. They simply vary the punctuation, usually in rapid succession. Baby? (Are you the baby?) Baby. (I wish to see the baby) BABY! (There is the baby, let's see if my foot fits in his ear!)

Ripley has become my mortal enemy. Her new trick is sticking her entire hand down her throat until she vomits. FOR FUN! You haven't seen evil until it crawls into your lap, makes itself puke on you, and then laughs. Now in addition to watching out for the 'store and spew' technique she was working on last week, I have to constantly be on guard when her hands head anywhere toward her face. She knows I'm looking for this and often raises her hand towards her mouth only to then scratch her nose and give me a little grin that says 'psyche!' Nixie has been trying to get in on the act and can get her hand in her mouth but thankfully seems to be having trouble finding her vomit button. In effect she just runs around chewing on her fist. Even when she's trying to be evil it comes out cute.

I turned in my project. It will certainly come back to me, likely with a strongly worded legal letter about failure to meet minimum standards for competency and so forth, but until then it's just the hurling twins, the baby monk, and the first video game I've owned in like a decade. I'll be up late destroying invading armies and gaining seven pounds for every one that Amy loses until further notice. I will try to return to a more regular diet of blogging once I have saved the planet.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Welcome To Earth, Mars

Mars Bar,

Well, here we are, mere hours from the first of hundreds and hundreds of shared birthdays (assuming you follow instructions and have my head properly frozen). I've gotten lots of birthday presents over the years, but this will be hard to top. I'm going to let someone else unwrap you though. Ick.

Sadly, you've beaten me to the finish line. Even if I stayed up all night I wouldn't finish my work before you got here. When I asked for another extension they told me I could take all the time I needed as long I handed it in by Monday. So, it looks like I'll be holding you with one hand and typing with the other.

Which frankly is indicative of the crappy reception you've gotten all the way around. When your sisters came it was a life altering production. I was an unemployed hobo (as opposed to those employed hobos you're always seeing) terrified that they would turn me into a minivan driving cliche. I didn't know if I really wanted kids, but I was sure I wanted to be more than just a parent. I wanted my life to matter for its own sake. And I thought no one would ever see me as anything but the thing pushing the stroller. None of which has come to pass, except for the minivan, which frankly was your fault. The point is, the night before the girls came felt sort of like I was jumping off a bridge. With you I feel more like I'm picking someone up at the airport. Which is to say that being second can suck, something I'm sure you'll understand as I try to stuff you into your sisters' pink hand me downs in the coming years.

But it also means you get much better parents than your sisters did. Frankly, we're pros at this now and every bump, bruise, backward diaper, or chewed tube of vulva cream that they've endured is one less you'll have to put up with. And you'll get something they never had, older siblings to love, hug, and probably dress you up in ways that may lead to gender confusion. I guess that part's kind of a mixed bag.

But what will never be second is how much you're loved. If seeing your sisters towering over the tiny clothes laid out for you today has taught me anything, it's that all this goes by in a flash. I can't promise that when you walk I'll react like I've never seen first steps before. But I assure you I'll react like I'm never going to see them again.

So enjoy your last night in another world. Tomorrow you become the new center of ours.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Study In Heroism

Mars Bar,

A very sweet, if terribly misguided, young man wrote to me today to tell me that I'd 'kind of become his personal hero' which obviously doesn't bode well for him and says a lot about his low threshold for heroism, but I wrote back and asked him to feel free to tell me more and if he felt the need to use capital letters or express his admiration in the form of a poem, song, or letter to the NY Times I encouraged him not to hold back. Long story short, we're now best friends and I'm trying to adopt him in the hopes he'll let me call him Mojo.

Certainly, it's easy to minimize this occurrence. After all, people do regularly write to prison inmates saying how much they admire their work and occasionally proposing marriage, and I won't lie, I was a little disappointed that the 'M' word didn't even come up in his letter. Also, for every 'you're my hero' mail I get (so far, just the one) I also recieve about a thousand 'you're a moron and I wish someone would set you on fire' mails. And that's just counting the ones from your mom. Ba Zing! Point being, the internet is a fickle mistress that occasionally makes you feel warm, fuzzy, and egotistical but mostly makes you feel like we're headed for an apocalypse brought on by an epidemic of poor spelling and cat videos.

Anyway, by the time you're old enough to form an opinion, what's left of me will probably appear more doughnut than human, and the idea that you yourself could admire the man who slaps a lawnmower engine on your bicycle instead of giving you a car for your 16th birthday will no doubt seem absurd. But I will then refer you back to this post and you will see that for one brief moment just before you were born, someone, possibly intoxicated and almost certainly deranged, felt that I was hero material. And you will say, that's great Dad, can I please just have the keys to my lawnmower bike? And I will say, no, not until you bring me a doughnut.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Mars Bar,

Just rolling stream of consciousness style tonight. Between work, trying to organize a green card marriage for Stacey, and your impending arrival I just don't have time to organize my thoughts into a focused, crafted, and hilarious piece. As the mall Santa used to say when I was a kid, 'just be glad you're getting anything."

I'm not really trying to organize a greencard marriage, but that's only because Stacey seems really resistant to it. Instead we've been looking at sending her to school so she can stay. It sounded good until we started making the schedule and realized that she'd spend every hour of her life either writing freshman compositions or watching three bizarrely named children. Once she sits on that for a few days my craigslist husband hunt might start to seem more attractive.

Your mom's been home on maternity leave for a week now which means that the girls have had no use for me. Ripley and I had a breakthrough tonight in which she not only acknowledged my presence but seemed thankful for it. The only catch was that I had to be wearing her as a hat. The minute she came off my head things were unsatisfactory and she explained that to me with her fists. It's nice that she's learned to say, "HAT! HAT!" but if feels a little weird that it means she wants to BE your hat. I take what I can get.

The middle name derby, which long ago stopped be interesting to anyone else, just keeps getting messier. Instead of narrowing down the choices Amy just keeps throwing more in. Canyon? Baron? Wren? Some of her suggestions are just noises. Tull? Also, Mars Canyon? What if we just name you Mountain Top? I think you're just going to have like nine middle names. Mars Cooper Mojo Canyon Jethro Tull Killen.

But I'll make you a deal. You call me Pilot and I'll call you whatever you want.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Almost Time To Panic

Mars Bar,

Not going to lie, there's nothing like blogging everyday to make your life sound uninteresting. Today I worked. Tomorrow I will work. Thursday... you get the idea. Kind of a mad dash to turn everything in before Friday while nervously twitching/chanting/performing voodoo rituals as we wait to hear if the tv show gets picked up. You should get your first taste of really good or really bad news before you're a week old. I know you're not even 0 yet but it's never to early to start crossing your fingers.

My plan in to have a magical creative outburst between now and Friday, then teach the girls to ride bikes to distract them from the fact that not only is mom not coming home for a couple days, but when she does she'll be bringing a small creature with her who trumps them for lap privileges. If the success of my experience teaching them numbers is an any indication my efforts to teach the girls to ride will end with lots of tears and a twisted pile of limbs and wheels. We may all be in the hospital by the time you're ready to leave.

All that to say that we're keeping it short tonight. Sleep well. It may be the last time any of us does for a while.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Probe Them Or Just Leave Behind Embarrassing Creams? (It Becomes Apparent I Do The Titles Last)

Mars Bar,

Today Nixon was chewing a tube of vulva cream. We don't really need to get into what that is but googling it will lead you down some interesting paths (avoid the story where the lady talks about having fire vulva). I wish I could say this was shocking, but 90 percent of the time when I look up one of your sisters is chewing on a medicine or a chemical or small animal (not really small animals, I just threw that in to distract you from the fact that we let them get hold of so many medicines and chemicals).

We've babyproofed drawers and cabinets seemingly at random. Small appliances and the liquor are totally accessible. Some days I come out to find Nixon just walking around with the toaster or Ripley hugging a bottle of rum. However, the drawer with the baby spoons in it is sealed up tight. If they want to get drunk, have a toaster fight and rub vulva cream on each other, that's their business, we're not looking to stifle anyone's creativity. But no way in hell are we going to let them get a hold of age appropriate eating utensils.

All this to say that after your nine months in a fluid pillow you're probably in for a world of hurt. We like to think that injuring yourself is just another way of learning. The smarty pants at the park might know the alphabet but do they know what to do when they're being chased by a two year old with a crockpot?

You will, Mars Bar. You will.

IMPORTANT NOTE **** - Amy and Stacey would both like me to make VERY CLEAR that the vulva cream did not belong to either of them and neither of them has ever used it or had or known anyone who's had or even read any google stories about people who've had fire vulva. Their collective best guess is that it was a part of a bag of samples (a welcome kit? I don't really know how the woman doctor visits work) from a checkup and it's been established that the tube had never been opened and still had its safety seal. Except for Nixon's bite marks it appears to be a brand new tube. They threatened to delete this entire post unless it was made perfectly clear that the vulva cream is of mysterious origin at best and was most likely left here by aliens.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Killen English

Mars Bar,

There was a kid at the park today, just a month older than your sisters, walking along a row of numbers on the ground and counting them out loud. This while your sisters were fighting over the opportunity to walk UP a slide.

His dad said that, yes, they taught him to count to ten, which of course was 'easy', and then he just seemed to pick up the rest of the numbers (the rest of them? I think I was actually 11 before I knew there was anything over 10) and the entire ALPHABET on his own. Just taught himself the alphabet this kid, you know, in his spare time. And thus far he could only read and spell three letter words, but they were working on it. As he said this I could hear Amy telling Ripley not to put dirt in her mouth.

As soon as he left I rushed the girls over to the numbers on the ground and tried to give them a crash course. I thought we'd just learn 1-5 really quick today and then pick up 6-10 tomorrow. Nixie was standing near the two and as soon as I said two she said TWO. I clapped. I cheered. I pointed to three. She said two. Then she walked along all the numbers and called them all two. Then she ran in a circle and tackled her sister and everyone just kept shouting TWO!

So numbers are out. We moved to the alphabet written on the wall. I had intended to teach the girls the alphabet at some point and had some little letters that they could play with in the tub, but things that have more than one piece don't do well around here so the alphabet (26 pieces, seriously?) is kinda hopeless. I think we still have an A, G, Z, and a 4 which I was kinda hoping would tide them over till kindergarten. Not that they've actually learned any of those. I take out the A and say, this is A, and then one of them will take the A, examine it, and then throw it at the other's head. Then I say, now there's a bunch of letters we don't have, and then this is G, and then the G get hurled. As far as they're concerned the alphabet is just a collection of oddly shaped projectiles.

So I pointed to the A on the wall, and reminded the girls that this was one of the letters we actually OWNED. Ripley said B. B? Where did you hear about B? We don't have a B. And then they pointed to C and called it B. And then they pointed to some bark on the ground and called it B. And then they put the bark in their mouths. And then Amy said, what did I tell you about putting dirt in your mouth?

Even things I thought they knew they don't. Eating for instance. I thought we had the basics down. Bite, chew, swallow. But Ripley just bites and chews then repeats until her cheeks are so full of partially chewed (but not swallowed!) food that she looks like she's trying to eat two golf balls. And then she sits in your lap and slowly opens her mouth and lets the whole mess (which is called a bolus in case you don't have a doctor wife who likes to offer you bits of trivia while you're cleaning half eaten pretzels out of your pants) drop out of her mouth. It's only the second day of the year and twice I've found myself in piles of partially digested food.

But fear not, we'll do better with you. We'll teach you all 26 letters. In order even. You get in Friday, you'll take the weekend, we'll start Monday. And if anyone ever tells you there aren't advantages to being the baby in the family you'll be able to point to your college scholarship while your sisters are fighting on a UFC undercard and signing their names AGZ4.

How Cats Show They Care

Mars Bar,

This morning I woke up in cat vomit. It wasn't that surprising since I knew I was laying in cat vomit when I went to sleep, but I felt like waking your mom up and changing the sheets was just going to be too much of a production at 1am, so I decided I would just sleep carefully and dodge the vomit for the rest of the night. But once I was asleep I didn't dodge so much as roll in the vomit. In your twenties you go to bed on New Years Eve and wake up in your own vomit. In your thirties it's the cat's. Also, the headline I may be burying, we have a cat who will throw up in your bed.

I was at the park today with your sisters and wearing one of those paper wristbands they put on you when you go into a bar. Someone saw it and said I must have had a big night last night. I told them no, I was laying in cat puke by 12:05, this was from taking my twins to Jumpy Gym at 9am on January 1st.

Jumpy Gym is kind of what it sounds like, a giant place filled with inflatable things and other distractions. Ripley went into a giant huge of toys and came out wearing high heels and pushing a lawnmower. She's going to make some man incredibly happy someday.

Still debating that middle name. I don't know if you read the comments from in there, but I'm still reeling from the news that I could have been Pilot. I don't know if it would have made my life any better, but I know all my shirts would be monogrammed. I'd pass it on to you but Mars Pilot reads a little too much like a job description for even me.

Anyway, I'll get around to writing one of these during the day soon so we have more time to chat. Right now I have to go examine my bed by flashlight before diving in.

Friday, January 1, 2010

20 10

Mars Bar,

Just stayed up to say Happy New Year. Your mom went down about three hours ago which is an hour longer than I thought she'd make it.

8 more days and you get to see what all the fuss is about.

Welcome to 2010. It's your year.

Real Time Web Analytics