Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Queen and Annie

Monday my friend and I went to see Queen + Paul Rodgers at the Bradley Center.

I've been a fan of Queen since my early teens, but it's binge and purge with me. There are times when I love their music, and times when Freddie Mercury's mix of camp and rock get on my nerves.

There was no way I wasn't going to see them tho' - even without Freddie, this was the one and only chance I'll have to see one of rock's greatest groups. Besides, I was a moderate fan of Paul Rodgers, having loved his Muddy Waters tribute album a decade back.

That eliminated (for me) what was probably the #1 reason most people would avoid the concert - Paul Rodgers is no Freddie, after all.

There was no opening act (yay!!) but the concert opened with Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' being played over the loudspeakers. I gather this was to tie in with the 'never quit' atmosphere of the reunion, but some lunkhead 40 yr olds booed the song heartily. F 'em.

On the majority of the Queen songs, at least for the first half of the show, Paul was drowned out by Brian May's guitar. His voice is strong, but not in the same range as Freddie's. Combine that with the fact that, minus Mercury, the band seemed too eager for the spotlight, and sometimes the song itself got lost a tad . .

[One final nitpick: I really detest when bands take a 3 minute song and stretch it to 12 minutes, or twist it into a polka, or spend half an hour on a guitar solo that has nothing to do with the song. I know you can play - I'm paying for the privilege after all - so knock off the show-off crap and keep true to at least the spirit of the song.

That one was for you, Brian. No offense - I think you're great. And in fairness, your 10 minute solo gave me time to use the can. ]

It sounds like I didn't like the concert, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

I sang along to most of the songs, and suprisingly I really enjoyed the Bad Company songs that were sprinkled into the mix. Almost enough to buy a Bad Co. album, I kid you not.

Bohemian Rhapsody was largely 'performed' by a taped video of Freddie, both as a nod to his memory and to the fact that no one will ever do it better. The encore of We Will Rock You was met with thunderous stomping/clapping, and Rogers more than holds his own on We Are the Champions.

Several times in the show references were made to Freddie, and two video montages were shown of Queen's past, and that of Rogers. Kind of gave the concert a justified air of nostalgia, regret, and melancholy.

A concert I'll tell my grandkid's about, should I make it that long.

* * *

Yesterday I took both girls - alone - to see a touring 30th anniversary performance of the musical Annie.

About a year ago, acting on a hunch they'd love the movie, I went to a Blockbuster in the boonies and got a copy of the most recent version.

They fell in love with it.

[little known fact: in 1982 my Mom took her Brownie troop to see the film and dragged me along. I pis*ed and moaned, but wound up liking it so much I begged her to buy me the movie program]

So I couldn't pass up the chance to take them, and all week Middle Child's been telling folks "I gonnasee Annie!" and "Ita hardknock lifeus"

We got them down for a late nap, then doled them up like true theater goers before heading out.

Here's the dissapointing part. The tickets for the allegedly sold-out show (according to Ticketmaster) were in the very last row of the balcony, smack in the middle of the aisle - and here I am with a 2 1/2 and a 4 year old.

I avoided that by taking three aisle seats (sold out my butt) but that still left a problem. To see the stage over the handrail girls had to perch on the upright seat of the chair, a situation which just begged for mischief. And good luck keeping them sitting on my knee for any length of time.

Still, YaYa, the theater vet, was pretty good, save for a 'let's tap dance with our fancy shoes moment'  and an exaggerated pantomine when I asked her to stop. Middle Child was good too, and they both ADORED seeing the strong renditions of It's a Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow, but by the seventh scene that was it.

Middle Child had to 'Go Pee!" three times in one scene, YaYa was getting antsy, and threats/bribes/prayers didn't work.

[my apologies to one of the ushers, an old man who had to rise from his chair each and every time I took one of the girls into the lobby. I finally told him to stop. There was no need, and besides,it  gets creepy when you walk into a room and four people rise to their feet to wait on you]

So I took the girls down to the atrium, where they tossed some pennies in the fountain, bought some souvenirs, and watched the action on the monitors. I ran into a Mom taking her 5 year old home, which made me feel good. When Easy Street came on YaYa wanted to see it, so we went back to our seats. We missed the song, but caught the last two songs of the Act before intermission.

That's when I called it a night and, hand in hand, took the girls back to the car.

I still felt like a failure, and attributed it to my gender - I was sure my wife coulda made them sit still for the entire play. But when we were walking through the parking structure we walked right past an entire ROW of cars with mom's buckling their kids in to go home.

"You're taking your kids home too?" I asked one of them.

"Yeah, it's just too long of a show at their age." she said.

"Thank God," I said. "I was worried it was just a Daddy thing before I saw all you Mom's driving home."

She laughed and asked me the girls ages. Her's in fact, were a few years older.

"Well," I said. "At least they got to see Hard Knock Life and Tomorrow. That's their favorite party anyway."

She snorted. "It'll be a Hard Knock Life for us for the next few day, having these kids up so late."

I laughed and wished her well. It restored my mood enough to take the kids to the McDonald's by Miller Park for some ice cream. Wouldn't you know it, while we were there someone came up to me and said "Weren't you just at the play? Hey, you had the same idea we did. Now I don't feel so bad."

For the life of me, I don't remember seeing them or their kids, and I hope the reason they recognized me was because of my stunning good looks, not my kids actions.

I took a picture with the girls when we got home, but by then Middle Child was justifiably exhausted, so I won't subject her to posting a picture of it here.

Ok, so I lied. Not sure what's up with my whacked smile either.

Still, a night to remember - and not in the Titanic sense.

******

MILWAUKEE, WI, BRADLEY CENTER SET LIST It's A Beautiful Day
Reaching Out
Tie Your Mother Down
Fat Bottomed Girls
Can't Get Enough
Take Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Love Of My Life
Hammer To Fall
Feel Like Makin' Love
Let There Be Drums
I'm In Love With My Car
Guitar Solo
Last Horizon
Bad Company
Another One Bites The Dust
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Radio Ga Ga
Dragon Attack
Under Pressure
The Show Must Go On
Bohemian Rhapsody
---
We Will Rock You
All Right Now
We Are The Champions
God Save The Queen

"PEOPLE OF MILWAUKEE..." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Dave Tianen. 3/27/06
Queen gives a nod to lineage. It honours Mercury but has new sound.

Fundamentally, most of what transpired at the Bradley Center on Monday night was an exercise in nostalgia. On that level, despite the cast changes, the show certainly worked. About halfway through, May took the front of the stage alone to sing Freddie's ballad "Love of My Life." Before he could begin, he had to wait for a prolonged wave of applause to subside.

"People of Milwaukee," he told the crowd. "I wasn't feeling very glam tonight, so you've given me a lift." Clearly, the feeling was reciprocal.

******

'Annie' gets boost from grown-ups Supporting cast provides plenty of laughs, heart By CAROLE E. BARROWMAN
Special to the Journal Sentinel Posted: March 29, 2006

Ask anyone who's seen the musical "Annie," including those in the audience Tuesday night at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, and they'll tell you the show is only as good as its Annie.

With her infectious optimism and the best songs in the show, she's the most recognizable character on the stage. Marissa O'Donnell, this 30th anniversary production's Annie, has all the necessary spunk and polish to live up to any audience's expectations of the little orphan girl.

However, despite the fiery-haired youngster's obvious performing strengths, it's the old guys who actually carry this show.

Miss Hannigan, the wicked witch of the orphanage, played by Alene Robertson, and Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks, played by Conrad John Schuck, deliver the evening's biggest laughs and most satisfying characterizations.

Robertson plays the orphan-hating Miss Hannigan as though she's channeling a vodka-soaked Ethel Merman through the body of Mrs. Garrett from the '80s sitcom "The Facts of Life." Her stage presence is formidable and so is her voice.

During the scene in the orphanage where she and her brother, Rooster, played by Scott Willis, lament their departed mother's sage advice to stay on "Easy Street," Robertson's Hannigan easily upstages Mackenzie Phillips' wooden Lily St. Regis. In fact, given the show's overtly idealized tone and clich├ęd message, Robertson's Miss Hannigan strikes a perfect balance between caricature and character.

Schuck's Warbucks is an equal counterpart, the wizard to Hannigan's wicked witch. In all of his scenes, Schuck's body language, facial expressions and rich bass-baritone are commanding. When he finally embraces his Annie in front of the president and everybody, it's a believable and touching moment. Annie's presence in Warbucks' life may have reminded him that "something was missing," but it's Schuck's presence on stage that humanizes "Annie."

This current touring production's sets are as appealing and oversize as "Daddy" Warbucks himself. Each backdrop reflects the emotional tone of the scene. The orphanage is gray, drab and slightly off-kilter. The interior of Warbucks' house is grandiose and dollar green, Times Square bursts with red lights and painted neon, and the NBC Radio Studio where Annie goes national to plead for her parents pops from the pages of a Norman Rockwell calendar.

Even the orchestration captures the close relationship this musical has with its audience. During many of the songs, "Tomorrow" in particular, a lone trumpet calls and responds to Annie on stage, revitalizing the show's big number.

"Do I hear happiness here?" asks Justice Brandeis during Annie's adoption ceremony toward the end of Act 2.

If you were standing on Water St. at curtain call, the answer was a resounding "yes."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My birthday party

On the 19th I turned 32, and the less said about that milestone the better. None-the-less, I celebrated by inviting friends and family to a dinner at the TGI Friday located inside Miller Park.

Initially, it was a disaster. Despite calling ahead my party was seated at four different tables, with some of us ten feet from the others. Not good.

Thankfully, a few complaints to the manager got us a free upgrade into a private party room, complete with a balcony overlooking the field.

It was a nice time. Good food, good people, and a relaxing atmosphere at one of my favorite places on earth.

Without further ado, here's some pics from that day, in no particular order.

My Mom and Grandma:

Me and my lady:

My ma and I - don't ask me what's up with the color in the photo

Here's something I've seen maybe a half-dozen times in my life: my folks kissing in public.

Here's my girls

and the girls helping me blow out the candles on my cake

here's the whole group. Notice the studs at either head of the table.

here's some unstaged shots of the group. Notice Parker playing with his Mom, and the seats in the background.

here's a shot of my buddy Tre (and his wife) escorting YaYa (his Godchild) and Middle Child into Miller Park.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mother Daughter Night

On the 18th YaYa's school held a "NO BOYS ALLOWED"  Mother/Daughter Night, complete with a fashion show (tho' in this case, the parents had to purchase an outfit of their choice.)

This is the text Mrs. wrote, which was read to the audience as YaYa went down the runway:

"YaYa X enjoys her dance class and coloring in her free time and is looking forward to playing on the school soccer team again. Her Mary-Kate and Ashley brand tank and bell-sleeve top in Caribean blue with her Mary-Kate and Ashley Ribbons and Lace Peasant skirt look great with her No Boundaries strappy earth sandal and coordinating sequin pony holder, proving you don't have to pay a lot to look like a million bucks! Size 4/5"

Afterward there were vendors, crafts (they each made a nice [seriously!] looking bracelet for one another) and food. I'm glad to see them have fun together, and I'm sure we'll do it again.

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Parkers 1st Birthday Party

Okay, since his party was fifteen days ago, I reckon I better get around to posting about it. The pictures will fill in most of the story.

My wife made a unique and very cute invitation for the gig. It was an elephant head cut from gray construction paper. Its ears folded over for mailing, but when opened its 'trunk' unfolded, accordian style, to reveal the party info:

Oh, in case you haven't figured it out, the theme was a 'jungle party'. I even ITuned a Jungle CD for the day.

The day of the party the Mrs. made 'swamp juice' made of green Kool-Aid made darker by blue food coloring, Sprite, and pineapple juice.

She also made party favors - 'bamboo sticks' of chocolate wafers with a nice thank you tag.

Here's his cake:

and the room, pre-party, decorated in part with Mylar balloons from a local store:

This is the cake table, with Ya-Ya's stuffed tiger as the center of attention:

Here's the birthday boy with his Godmother

here's the prize table for the animal bingo we played. There were some neat Africanesque items up for grabs.

Okay, in my family there's a tradition on 1st birthdays. You lay several items on the table in front of the kid - usually a shot glass, a rosary, money, and one or two other things. Whatever they grab allegedly tells you where the focus of their life will be. I wanted a pair of boxing gloves and something in line with being a ladies man, but no such luck - and the boy wound up grabbing the rosary anyhow - and the money.

Middle Child helped him blow out his candles:

And then it was his turn to eat cake. YaYa, on her 1st birthday, was disgusted by the idea of getting messy and refused to eat it at all; Middle Child dug right in. Parker walked a line between the two, hesitating before digging in, and then doing so gingerly.

Afterwards we opened a score of great presents (including lots of baseball clothing - funny, no one EVER gets him anything but baseball stuff. Odd how my obsession has just made the idea of a football or soccer themed shirt verbotten to my friends and family).

It was a good time, even if the fancydancy catering I ordered (and paid +$200 for) tanked.

Happy birthday Parker, we love you!

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Parker's 1st Haircut!

I'm going to skip ahead of some other 'scrapbook' posts and put up some pictures of a big event - Parker's first haircut.

On the 24th we decided Park was looking a big too scraggly for our liking. So we put him in his high chair and broke out the home haircut kit.

The pictures don't tell the whole story. Sure he was scared to death while the buzzer was going, but just before these pictures he was grinning like a madman. He quickly recovered from the 'ordeal' too.

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George Mason Wins!

Great game! Conneticut goes down in OT as George Mason overcomes a shocking last second (of regulation) tying shot to move on to the next round of the tournament.

Wouldn't you know it, with 28 seconds left Middle Child has her first accident in weeks, soaking the floor.

Thank goodness 28 seconds of basketball equals minutes of real time, as I returned just in time to see Conn's 3 second shot miss as the clock ran out.

I don't care for the NBA, but give me March Madness any day . .

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The World Baseball Classic

Just minutes ago the USA lost a pivotal game against Mexico, eliminating themselves from the WBC. It was a bit of a shock, given that before tonight Mexico was 0-2 in this round of the tournament.

I suppose I should be upset and shed a tear for the National Pastime. On the face of it it is alarming. A group of American professionals - All Stars and Hall of Famers even - fumbled their way into a second round elimination against teams that probably couldn't pass muster in AAA.

Phoeey. Who cares?

Look, I'm just as patriotic as the next guy, but it isn't like we screwed up the Normandy landing. The folks in Iowa and Oregon will be just fine without a WBC trophy or ring or whatever the winner takes home.

To tell the truth, it's not like it's conclusive proof of baseball greatness. By its nature the sport is one where one game proves nothing. Unlike almost any other sport, any team, no matter how awful, has a legitimate chance to beat a champion everytime they set foot of the field.

There's a reason the World Series is a best of seven format, and not set up like the WBC.

Add to that the fact that MLB players are coming off five months of sitting at home with the Mrs. and I'd say rust plays a factor too.

I hope it doesn't sound like I'm disparaging the tournament. I'm one of the WBC's biggest fans.

Hey, I heard all the whining about the 'risk' MLB players were taking. They could get pull a hammy, they could blow out an arm, they could be lost to their employers for the season. I sure didn't want Ben Sheets to pitch, and I'm glad he didn't.

But I also remember Ryne Sandberg getting hit by a pitch in spring training and missing weeks of the season.

Injuries happen, and I don't see the difference between having it occur on a field in Japan or at a camp in Arizona.

And right here in Milwaukee, on broadcast TV, I was treated to watching teams from Taiwan, the Netherlands, China, Korea, Japan, Puerto Rico, Cananda, South Africa, the US, and Cuba play ball. The only teams I'm sure I didn't see were Italy and Australia.

I watched pro players from Japan and Cuba, for Pete's sake! How sweet is that?

Without the WBC, maybe, maybe, I'd have eventually saw one of those countries compete in the Olympics, should they reinstate the sport.

Now, I can say bleep off to the  snobs who prefer the Olympics to remain Euro-centric.

Next time, I might just shell out the money to subscribe to the WBC's web broadcasts. I liked it that much.

And in case you care, having watched Korea go 6-0, they're my pick for the championship.

Good luck to them - you've made the WBC must-see TV.

 

WooHoo! Go Panthers!

For the second year in a row, my alma matter, the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee scored an upset in the first round of the NCAA tournament, this time knocking off Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee's richy-rich Marquette went one and out.

What a shame.

Go Panters!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Man, am I selfish . . but hot, don't forget that!

My birthday's coming up, and if anyone (read: family) cares to purchase moi a gift, you may of course contact the Mrs. and co-ordinate your efforts.

For those chosing to act on their own, I am dangerously close to knocking off the last of my realistic 'Ten Useless Things I Want' list.

I have my laptop, an Ipod (granted, one I can't figure out how to work), a DVD recorder, a digital camera, a great desktop computer, my own washer/dryer/stove/fridge, and a camcorder (albeit one that needs repair).

So what's left?

A house, but that's a year away, and hardly useless. 'Course, neither are a lot of the other items on the list.

The remaining three items are:

1. An XM radio and subscription. I'm accumulating Radio Shack GC's for this, and will pick it up prior to the start of the MLB season.

2.An electric guitar and amp. Nothing fancy, a WalMart $99 package would do. This is the most ridiculous item on the list, as I had an acoustic guitar for the first 6 years of my marriage and played it once. But, I still want one. Can't give up the dream.

3. A telescope. Again, useless, but I do have a lifelong love of astronomy and follow it on the web. Seeing Orion in the sky still makes my heart go pitter-patter. Tom over at Tom's Astronomy Blog has recommended one, and I really think it'll be a good experience for the kids too.

I guess Radio Shack GC's are the only feasible gift here, but I'm also interested in getting a good Johnny Cash CD, maybe his Folsum Prison concert and a solid retrospective. No books currently make my list, as my library card is up and running.

Other than that . . . hmmm. . . Wal-Mart GC's never hurt.

Yeah, Yeah

I'm still annoyed, but more importantly I'm bored. It's either post

or watch Cinderella with Middle Child for the 100th time.

I struck gold with a recent binge at Blockbuster. If you're interested, pick up

The Guru, a hilarious comedy about an Indian immigrant who mistakenly

becomes known as a sex guru. Sounds condescending and stupid,

but it's funny, well written, and really a joy to watch.

 Heather Grahm (sp?) is  the only recognizable face.

 Some great dance numbers too, including a ripoff of Grease.

You know, between The Guru and Bend it Like Beckham, I'm really starting to

dig movies with an Indian flavor, and I have to say their music is funky and

fun. I'll have to attend an Indian wedding one of these days; it's gotta be

better than the standard South Side gala.

I also thought Serenity was worth the rental cost, tho' I couldn't convince my wife to

watch it.

Red Eye, by Wes Craven, I picked up for curiosities sake, assuming it would suck.

On the contrary, I found it a well written and well acted thriller. Well worth your time.

Skip Apartment 12 with Mark Rufalo, tho' I found it mildly amusing.

Last but not least, Walk the Line. Not a great movie, but what incredible chemistry

between Phoenix and Witherspoon. Two things happened because of the movie:

For the first time, I find Witherspoon sexy and very appealing. And two, I've become

infatuated with Johnny Cash's music, often having it play softly on my comp at

work. If nothing else, discovering Folsum Prison Blues was a great treat.

It also led to a great quote of the day:

Mother in Law claims Walk the Line is the best movie ever. I disagreed.

Mother in Law: Well, it's probably just a generational thing. The movie reminded me

of what it was like to be young again - all the problems I  faced. I could

really relate, you know?

Me: So . . . you were a pill popping adulterer who was jailed for drug smuggling?

Sometimes, I wonder why the woman tolerates my smart-ass mouth.

 

Well, I never

I was going to log on and write a post about Parker's 1st birthday party, but I arrived to find that the AOL counter has again reset itself.

From 30,500 visitors I'm back down to 105.

The hel* with that.

I don't feel much like spending much time on this lousy service right about now. I'm sure I'll get over my hissy fit, but c'mon . . .

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Barry Bonds, Loser

Oh, you had to know I couldn’t resist the chance to get a jab in at Barry Bonds.

It’s a given really, seeing as I like the man as much as I do the clap. It’s never really been a secret.

Even so, I want to take a moment and explain myself.

Most people despise Bonds because he’s an arrogant, cocky, self-righteous S.O.B. that could care less if some fat white guy in Milwaukee doesn’t like him - or anyone for that matter.

That doesn’t bother me. In fact I kind of like it. I was a big fan of Albert Belle, too, and he was no saint. Hell, Ty Cobb killed people, for Pete’s sake.

[Granted, Bonds refusing to sign tshirts for a children’s cancer clinic because ‘I don’t sign autographs for white people” pushes the envelope a tad]

Nope, I don’t like him because, as sappy as it sounds, he’s a cancer on the best sport around.

It’s one thing for some schmuck to cheat here and there. Immoral as it may be, I don’t think the four extra home runs Alex Diaz hit on ‘roids makes all that much of a difference to the world.

But when you take one of the best players ever, juice him up on steroids for years, and find yourself about to crown a new all-time home run champion - well, then I have a problem.

Records are important. They’re important because they decide who gets to have a children’s book written about them in fifty years. It’s important because they decides arguments on message boards and in drunken bar room discussions.

It means something, damnit.

And here we go, about to hand the title of all-time homerun champion to a chronic juicer.

The book Game of Shadows details years of habitual steroid abuse, all geared towards adding power to his game. Well, mission achieved buddy.

The reporters who wrote the book spent two years compiling interviews, reviewing sealed and public court records, and examining the testimony of those involved in the BALCO controversy.

It’s already been excerpted in Sports Illustrated and has prompted the commissioner to announce he’s investigating the claims.

No matter what happens, Bonds’ legacy is forever tainted.

Whoopee.

Without concrete action from MLB it means nothing. Publicly he will still be regarded as one of the greats, and with time the memory of the steroid allegations will fade. People still recall the sins of Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose because MLB make it part of what you remember.

I’m not even sure that’s possible in this case.

Most of the steroid use took place before MLB enacted a firm policy, and unless he fails a test I think the commissioner’s hands are tied.

Here’s what I’m hoping for: either the commissioner risks it all and oversteps his bounds to punish Bonds.

That, or I wake up one morning to news that a mysterious ‘knee injury’ has forced Bonds into retirement.

If anything happens at all, I think it will go the latter route, with behind-the-scenes threats forcing his hand.

In conclusion, I leave you with an excerpt of my own, this one from one of The Onion’s greatest headlines “Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone who has ever watched Baseball”

"Everyone in our front office has known about Bonds since the 2001 season," said San Francisco-area accounts-receivable secretary Mindy Harris of McCullers and Associates, Ltd.

"People in our ninth-floor office, too, and all seven branch offices. None of us were sure exactly which kind of steroids he was on, but we were pretty sure it was the kind that causes you to gain 30 pounds of muscle in one offseason, get injured more easily, become slow-footed, shave your head to conceal your thinning hair, lash out at the media and fans, engage in violent and abrupt mood swings, grow taut tree-trunk-like neck muscles, expand your hatband by six inches, and hit 73 home runs in a single season."

Amen.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Parker's 1st Birthday!

I can't believe the little guy is turning one today. Seems like

only yesterday I posted news of his arrival here mere hours

after his birth.

Today we took the whole family to the Olive Garden for dinner to

celebrate.

 I know, not very childlike, but his big party will be on

Saturday. This was just for us, and it was very nice.

The waitstaff even sang to him. It was cute - they did so quietly so as not to

'startle' him.

Yeah right - he has two older sisters. He doesn't know what

quiet is.

By the time we got home it was time for bed. Not terribly exciting, I know.

I love the little guy. Happy birthday Parker!

btw - the pics are from his cousins bday party this past Sunday.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Kirby Puckett, HOF Twin, dead at 44

My Dad just called to tell me Kirby Puckett died following a stroke yesterday

at his home in Arizona. He was 44.

I remember the '91 World Series that converted me to a baseball fan

and that gut-wrenching home run Kirby hit to win game six . .

 I was rooting against his team, but it was impossible to root against him.

A few years ago he published a children's book of baseball games,

which just showed the love he had for the Greatest Game.

He'll be missed.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Pictures! Get your pictures here!

Figured it's about time to post some pictures of my progeny here . . is

that even the right word?

I think I failed to size the pics correctly, which will probably throw your frame

 all out of whack. My humblest apoligies, but I'm not about to waste more

 time redoing them.

On Feb 12th we took advantage of a fresh snowfall and took the kids

sledding near my childhood home. There's a huge hill in the park across

the street (Suicide Hill, growing up) and an equal sized one right next to it.

This second hill is neatly cut in half by a plateau, and that's where we took

the kids.

And yup, we took Parker too. He rode down the hill with both the Mrs. and I,

giggling each time.

The worst part of the whole thing, aside from the legitimate fear that

my 300# frame will be shattered on the way down, is the long, lonely climb up.

On the 18th, for no real reason at all, my wife made a butterfly cake

with YaYa. Just wanted to show off what a good Mom she is by including this pic.

Yesterday, to celebrate my sister's birthday, the family met at the Ale House,

a bar/restaurant downtown. I wasn't too keen on taking three kids to a bar

so late in the evening (my fear being they'd bug out and make it

miserable) but honetly, it was a really nice time.

No family tension, everyone was cheerful, and both the kids and myself

were 'on'. No pics, though, as I anticipated disaster, not fun times.

Quote of the night:

ME: YaYa, who's the girl that I love the most?

Stunned silence from the room, all of whom thought I was setting

Middle Child up for a fall.

YaYa: Mommy!

Right answer. Sometimes the Mrs. says I don't give my family the

impression I'm happy with our marriage (I am) and for once, I think I

won the day.

Today, we took the girls to go see a performance of Cats by an excellent

children's theater. It (as always) was a high quality, entertaining show, all

choreagraphed by a 16 year old performer who seems destined for

Broadway.

The show started at 7:30, which is just pleading for trouble

(as it's half an hour past their bedtime when it started).

We wound up having to leave two songs before the finale when

Middle Child wigged out, but it was fun and they enjoyed it.

The kids will see just about every musical out there by the time

they're adults.

They had their faces painted by a local anchorwoman during

intermission. Excuse the pics, as they were EXHAUSTED by the time we

got home. Still cute tho'.