Thursday, February 16, 2017

Smells Like 1978

I found this Wondergap Lp among the record crates at Goodwill, but when I got it home I discovered that the bottom of the record sleeve was slightly moldy. That happens sometimes. When you buy a stack of records, a dirty one can slip by and escape the store. You can't keep it, though. 

One moldy record can infect the rest of your collection. I tried to recycle it, but after I tossed it into the bin I started feeling guilty that I did not even give the record a chance.


(This is what the clean artwork should look like)


The record's vinyl was dirty, but it didn't stink like mold, so I brought it in the house and cleaned it. 

I'm glad I did. From the lyrics that slide into French to the female back up singers' "Ohhhh Ohhhhh Ooooooos's", this record is the epitome of late 1970s easy listening.

I have found precious little about the Wondergap; about all I could turn up was that this is their only recording. Punk was starting to make some noise around this time. Maybe Wondergap was released a couple of years late?

 "Elise" is my favorite track. You can check it out here:

Wondergap - "Elise"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hurts, Donut...

I took some time off of work last week to go to the "Donuts with Dad" activity at Char's school.



Besides donuts and water, they had Dad Libs for the kids to fill out. 



"My dad is so grat. He is 47 years old. My dad is very good at pinball. I love to play with him. His favorite sport is pinball. He loves to eat meat. My dad is really smart! He knows how to fix a pinball. I think my dad is special because he good. I love my dad more than anything, even more than chees. I think he is a hero because he is nice. He is the best dad in the whole uouvers [universe]."

After breakfast, I had time to check out the art on the wall near Char's classroom. Hey, I resemble that guy!


Man, I love stuff like this. 

PS. She had some extra time, so Char filled out a Mom Lib, too. I wouldn't show you anything with mom's age on it, but I can tell you that Charlotte came up with, "My mom is really good at annoying me", and "She is the best Mom in the bathroom." She meant it to be funny, and we both laughed hard. Poor mom.

I bet Daphne gets some revenge during the upcoming "mom" event...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Blind Dates

Our local library has a neat Valintine's Day grab bag offer.






I'm currently reading Matt Pinfield's autobiography, All These Things That I've Done, so I had Charlotte pick out a movie for me to watch. Daphne was willing to commit to reading whatever book Charlotte picked out.

So, what did we get?

Daphne loves mysteries, coffee, and recipes, so she couldn't be happier with Charlotte's pick.


Here's my movie.


I guess this is a romance film. It's about a lonely guy who falls in love with his computer's operating system. I'll keep my promise, and I'll give it a shot, but I don't know if I can stare at that moustache for over two hours...

I'll watch it in instalments.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Super Hero Dreams


If this picture makes no sense, then scroll down the blog a bit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Construction Continues

Charlotte decided to go with the Squinkie Villa as her V-Day box for school. 😀 

I should clarify that her class is having a Friendship Party on Friday, not a Valentine's Day party, but it feels weird calling it a Friendship Box. Anyway, Char picked outherput it colored constuction paper, and mom helped put it on the box.


The next step is the Squinkie decorations. Char wants to tape real Squinkies to the outside of the box, but that's a recipe for disaster. Some will fall off, or be pulled off, and be lost for sure. The chances of finding the exact replacements will be zero, and that will be a mess I can't clean up.

Instead, I went to the Squinkies website and printed off a few coloring pages resized to fifty percent. Char colored them, and they will be cut out and taped to the box. I think it's a pretty good compromise.


Both Charlotte and I are excited for Friday. I took a personal day so I can take her to school for a "Donuts with Dad" gathering at 8AM. After I leave, she gets to have her Friendship Party, and then her class takes a field trip to the Science Center. It will be a big day for her.

If it's as warm as they predict for Friday (over 50 degrees), I might get to spray paint my newest project, and no, it isn't a pinball machine. It is a large toy, though. I hope Friday will be a big day for both of us.

Monday, February 6, 2017

It's All About the Wardrobe

Daphne and Charlotte were discussing our cat Earl when I walked into Char's room.

"What's this about Earl? Where is he?" I asked.

"Oh," Charlotte replied, "he's probably enjoying his life as a super hero."

I laughed and looked at Daphne, "What is that supposed to mean?"

She smiled and said, "Oh, you'll have to see for yourself. I think he ran down to the living room."

I was intrigued, so I went downstairs in search of our cat. I found him on the couch, wearing the felt cape that Charlotte had made him.


So that's what made him a superhero!

I figured he'd want the cape off - cats don't usually enjoy dress up - but when I reached down and pulled on the fabric, he ran to the end of the couch. That's when Daph walked in.

"He seems to like it, so don't worry about taking it off. He's fine."

Earl had settled into the couch cushion and held his head high. "He looks kinda ...." I was searching for the right word.

"Regal," Daphne finished for me.

"That's it. He does look regal. He's certainly proud of himself."

Earl wore his cape until he got it wet drinking out of the water dish. The cape is drying on a door knob, so I'm sure his highness will get another chance to enjoy his super hero couch adventures.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Getting Boxed In

This year Charlotte's first grade class gets to bring Valentine's Day boxes to school for the V-Day party. Yea! That's more fun than the bags they decorated for kindergarten last year.

I still remember some of the Valentines boxes I made school. My go-to design was a shoebox covered in tinfoil - instant robot.

Charlotte's idea was to make a shark with a mouth that opened to reveal rows of heart-shaped teeth. That's a lot cooler than my robot.

Both Daphne and I were jazzed to help her bring that shark to reality, but Charlotte came home last night with a changed mind. She claimed someone else had made a shark last year (doubtful), so she couldn't make one now. Instead, she wanted to take a shoe box, wrap it in red paper, and cover it with heart-shaped stickers just like some of the other girls in her class are going to do.

Talk about a disappointment. There's nothing wrong with the red box design, but it's not her design. We don't want Charlotte to suppress her creativity just to appease her peers. I think Char is beautifully unique. It breaks my shark tooth heart to watch her want to gloss that over so she can fit in.

During dinner we pressed her to come up with a design that was more her. We talked about her hobbies and things she likes. Pets, cupcakes, zoo animals, and of course, Squinkies were all discussed. The idea of a Squinkie V-Day box caught her attention.

Charlotte offered one of her Squinkies 'do Drops Mystery Villas for inspiration.



Amazon cardboard was my medium.


So far, it's not looking too bad. The Squinkie house isn't as cool as a shark, but it does represent a true aspect of whom Char is, and that's a good thing.

Here's where I'd normally end this post, but I just watched a YouTube video about Cafe Racer motorcycles that is relevant. The video warns of rookie mistakes that builders make when they construct their first Cafe projects. It ends with this advice:


“There’s a big difference between bikes built to impress and really impressive motorcycles. And most curious is that the path to impressive bikes is usually the opposite. In other words, the search for simplicity and discreetness This can also be applicable in our lives. Don’t make things to impress people that you don’t know and which you don’t even like... The best person to impress is only yourself, and only you will be the judge of that.” - Racer TV

I always tell my students to write stories that they want to read. Art teachers tell their students to create for themselves, not for others. Band directors tell their musicians to do their best, not someone else's best. Coaches tell their athletes the same. It's an universal truth. 

Taking the road less traveled is always harder. The snow is deeper, the trip is slower, and the path is less lit. But Charlotte, I'm worried that if you don't make that shark or Squinkie Villa, then you'll be making red boxes for the rest of your life.

Cafe link

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Rubber Slides and Padded Mats (An Email Reprint)

(from 2012)

Ever pull up to a stoplight on a busy multi-lane street and hear car brakes squeal? My first thought is, "Is that my car?" I'll then casually roll ahead a little so I can press the brakes to check.

It is the same experience at a mall's crowed playground when you smell a dirty diaper. My first thought is, "Is that my kid?" I'll then casually bend down to Char's backside to check. Sure it's awkward, but at least I wasn't the dad who pressed his face far enough into his child's diaper that he could have suffocated himself. That guy was gross.

Happily, this weekend anyway, it was someone else's car and someone else's kid.


Here are some random observations after visiting various toddler playgrounds in our local malls:

1. The bottom of the slide is much more dangerous than the top. I didn't see anyone fall off, but I witnessed plenty of crashes at the foot of the slide. Some pileups were five kids deep.
2. Nothing exciting happens when I'm watching my girl play, but if I look away for a couple of seconds there will be a minor disaster. So, it's just like home.
3. I can always smell warm pretzels. 
4. Parents treat the playground like it's an elevator; none of the adults talk to each other. Maybe they're just too tired.
5. Or they're too busy looking at their cell phones.
6. I know that little boy who just ran full steam into Charlotte and sent her flying into the padded bark of a rubber tree didn't mean to hurt her. But while I'm picking up my sobbing girl and watching him rounding the corner for lap number two, I want to trip him.
7. And his mom who didn't even see it happen because she was too busy staring at her phone instead of watching her human torpedo.
8. But I don't.

Music link

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pick a Record, Any Record! (An Email Reprint)

(This email is from 2010)

I hit the flea market at the Iowa State Fairgrounds on Saturday, and I scored a box of 135 45s for $10!


Sadly, my best turntable has been packed away in an effort to sell our house, so I brought the box to work today. I have a turntable at school, and I I was itching to play a few records.

The name of the game is "Randomly Pick-a-45-and-Play-Both-Sides," and so far I've blindly reached in and pulled out
Sade's "Smooth Operator" / "Hang on to Your Love" and Wayne Newton's Danke Schoen" (Ferris!)/ "Heart!"

This is fun! For $10, this box was a steal.

2017 Update: I didn't even remember that I had this box of 45s at school, but my student teacher spotted it when I was showing her where I keep the tests and other materials in the classroom closet.

Let's play another round of "Randomly Pick-a-45-and-Play-Both-Sides." 

Oh no! It's "Think of Laura" by Christopher Cross.


Better grab some Kleenexes:

"Think of Laura" link

They don't make songs like that anymore, and actually that is a good thing. Hopefully the B side is more up-beat:


I think the flip side is almost as depressing as "Think of Laura," but even If I never play the record again, it was worth 13.5 cents.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Pay No Attention to that Boy Behind the Curtain (An Email Reprint)

(This is from November 2, 2011)

I grew up singing in the shower. I don't know why I felt so brave standing behind that curtain, but as soon as I stepped under the water I'd let it rip. I wouldn't sing a cappella though. I had to have some cassette "blaring to high heaven" (as my mom would say) to guide me along. It was usually the same tape over and over - there's comfort in repetition. I bet I sang along with side A of Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog almost every morning of my 8th grade year.  I don't even know one song on side B.

Although I no longer sing in the shower (I have more consideration for my family), if Charlotte's not sleeping, I'll will blast shower music for myself. Again, there's very little variety. Last year my iPod played the Presidents of the United States' 
These Are the Good Times People every morning, and 2011-2012 school year looks to be the "Year of the Black Keys".

Why the Black Keys? Daphne noticed that Charlotte likes them. When Char was crawling down the hallway one summer morning she heard "Tighten Up" coming from our bathroom.  She stopped crawling and started bouncing on her diaper in sync with the beat. After several bounces, Charlotte switched directions and zipped into our bathroom where she sat on the rug and continued to move to the song. Attagirl.


"Tighten Up" Link

Update: Charlotte and I went to the Trolls movies last year for a daddy daughter night, and the soundtrack has become our road trip CD. It depends on the traffic and stop lights, but we can usually listen to tracks 1-7 before we get to daycare. We had a daddy daughter afternoon on Saturday, and we finally got to track 11. That's the movie's cover of "September" by Earth, Wind and Fire. Man, Char loves that song right now. We listened to it five times this morning, and she belted out the lyrics each time.

These are the good times, people. 😃

Trolls End Credits Link