Thursday, March 31, 2011

I have No Gate Key

One of the first regulars readers of this blog, back when I first started it in 2005, was my brother Anonymous. I call him him anonymous because that is how he has always commented on my posts, as Anonymous. He never wanted to give himself a "blog handle" as he called it. Today is Anonymous' birthday. In honor of his birthday I felt the need to tell a story about him.


In the early to mid 90's my brother Anonymous was the General Manager at a very popular nightclub in the city of Philadelphia. When I was in need of a job my brother offered me a position as a doorman. After a few months and a some extreme circumstances I found myself as the operations manager of the club. The nightclub had four bars with 2 to 3 beer boxes each, two beer tubs, a VIP lounge, a VIP entrance separate from the other two front doors, 4 security gates, two back doors, a beer room, a liquor closet, a coat room, a managers office and a security office. Part of being a manager was carrying around a key chain with keys to all the various rooms and locks in the club. Our key rings would put Schneider's from One Day At A Time key rings to shame.

The lawful occupancy of the club was 600 or odd people but on most weekend nights we packed in as much as 1200 people.The night club was THEE place to be on any night but even more so on a Saturday night. The club was located in a perfect spot for nightlife, had the top DJs in the city and the best looking, most skilled, the fastest bartenders of any club.

One Saturday night, due to the fact that PA is a state which has a liquor control board as well as some weird and outdated laws, the PA State Police paid us a visit. Twenty to thirty state police officers entered the club, ordered the music turned off, started carding patrons, confiscating liquor and cash registers and questioning the staff. Most likely the state police raided our club because someone from our competition (another club owner or manager) called the police with a complaint (my guess it was the manager of the nightclub down the street that had a giant Sphinx in their main floor. They never liked us).

At one point the lead investigator started to question my brother Anonymous. The lead investigator asked to see the security video tapes that were recording and locked up in the security office. My brother Anonymous, in an effort to stall for time, protect the club as well as resist the illegal search and seizure that was being perpetrated by the state police, told the lead investigator that security office was locked and that no one in the club had the key. The lead investigator spotted the huge key ring hanging from my brother's belt.

"Not one of those keys will open that door?" The policeman asked.

"No." Anonymous said knowing that he did.

 "I will tell you what" the officer said, "I am going to try every one of those keys in that door. If one of those keys works I am going to take you jail."

As my brother and I watched, the officer took the keys from Anonymous and started one by one to try each key in the door. The officer would insert the key, look at my brother for a reaction, turn the key, nothing would happen and then move to the next. He made sure he looked at my brother with each key. Anonymous and I both knew that one of the keys was going to work.

The officer tried 6 or so keys and was only 2 keys away from getting to key that would open the door. He looked at Anoymous with a determined stare and started with the next key.

My brother mustered up the best mock surprise face he could and said, "OH. OOOHHH. You mean the key that would open THAT door? I know which one that is."

I could not help but laugh.

The officer could not help but laugh.

 Anonymous handed the officer the correct key and no one went to jail that night.

 I still laugh thinking about it.

 Happy Birthday Anonymous.

Friday, March 25, 2011


A few weeks ago Lauren convinced me to run in a 5k race called the St. Patty's Day Shocker. The race raised money to buy defibrillators for the areas public buildings. Hence the name "shocker" as part of the title of race. The run was the Sunday before March 17th, hosted by a local bar, each race participant was going to recieve a free pint of Guinness at the end of the race, hence the "St. Patty's" part of the name. People were encouraged to wear green, dress in costumes or other St. Patty's day themed get ups.

The race met my three criteria for my participation. 1)It was a small race, not too crowded with serious runners although competitive. 2)People in costumes or semi ridiculous outfits (which most runners by default even without trying wear semi-ridiculous outfits). And 3) Beer. By the way these three criteria pretty much are my criteria for participating in anything.

I placed 80th out of 230 with a time of 26:39. Lauren came in 66th place over all. Runners that finished before me included, a 60 year old woman, a man wearing a beer stein hat and some dude who wore a green sequined jump suit. To see pictures you can go here.

Lauren and I enjoyed a breakfast buffet and our Guinness' beers while discussing the course and the competition. Even though neither of us placed in our age groups it was nice to be involved in a race together. There is nothing like good friends and beer to make you feel less like a loser.

Later that same week, Maxfield was involved in a race of his own. His school hosts a pinewood derby race every year which raises money for the Home and School Association. I approached building Max's car with a "it takes a village" mentality. Max drew the shape, Mr V. ,our neighbor, cut it out with a ban saw. I sanded it. Mr. Jones, another neighbor, chiseled the spaces for the weights. Max painted it.

A fine looking car.

The night of the race is a big family event at the school. Mr. V was there helping with the race. Mr. Jones showed up to watch. Lauren and I brought Wyatt along so he could cheer on his brother. High school kids volunteered helping to run the concession stand as well as keeping kids occupied with face painting and crafts.

The way the race is run is similar to a playoff bracket. Races are held within each grade, heat by heat until there is a winner. Then the first grade winner competed against the Kindergarten winner, the 2nd grade winner vs. the third grade winner, 4th grade vs 5th grade, heat by heat until an overall champion is determined. Maxfield won his first heat but was eliminated in the second heat* to his buddy DK. Max was genuinely happy for DK. I was pleased that there were no tears.

During a lull in the racing action Max and Wyatt got their faces painted and we bought Popsicles.

DK went on to compete against G, Max's best buddy who lives up the street. G went on to win 1st grade then compete and win third place overall. Max, Wyatt, DK and G all sat together watching the other races. Each of them happy.

There is nothing like good friends, face painting and Popsicles to make you feel less like a loser.

*Max's car's first race ranked 29 out of 125 races with a time of 3.697 seconds. The over all winners car ranked first and had a best time of 3.588 seconds.
Also the commenter Mindy won the Supercuts gift card contest from a couple of posts ago. Nothing like a haircut to make a you feel less like a loser.

Monday, March 21, 2011


"You seem a little stressed out." Lauren said to me in a matter of fact way. We were cleaning up from lunch. "You need to go and drink some beers with the guys or something."

"The guys?" I said. "I don't have any guys. Besides it is Sunday afternoon. 1 o'clock no less."

"If you could go and drink beers and hang out with someone," Lauren asked "who would it be?"

I thought to myself, "Bob. But he lives 40 minutes away. Half my beer drinking time would be spent on travel time. Dave, but it would be weird to call him and ask him to go drink beers. He would think I was in some serious trouble."

I said. "I don't know."

Lauren finished wiping down the table.

"Ken." I blurted.

"What? Who?" Lauren asked.

"Ken M." I actually said his last name but I do try to give people a bit of anonymity on this blog to potentially save them from embarrassment. "I could always call Ken and say Let's meet up for a beer or whatever, and Ken would be like, 'Okay."

"Call Ken." Lauren said.

"I haven't spoken to Ken since I dry humped in the super market parking lot. I am not calling him."

I then took Maxfield and Wyatt food shopping, to Rita's Water Ice for free water ice day, then to play baseball, (me as a dad playing ball, not as a coach with other kids) then to the playground (apparently me as dad playing ball is no where near as fun as when there are other kids around) then we went home.

"I am going to go out to get beer." I told Lauren.

"Really?" She asked.

"Yes. You asked me who I would want to just hang out with and have a few beers, well that would be you. We will sit out back, in the sun, and have a couple while the kids play."


"I will be back in a bit. Any preference?" I asked as I grabbed my keys. "Blue Moon or Yuengling Lager?"

"Lager." She said.

I returned 20 minutes later. Lauren greeted me at the driveway. A maroon minivan was backing out. It was my neighbor Lisa's Van. My boys play with her boys all of the time. My two older boys were inside the minivan.

"Where are the boys going?" I asked.

"To Lisa's to play with her boys. Lisa asked me if I wanted to go to Home Goods. I said yes but I needed to wait for you to come home since Jackson is napping. Her husband is watching the kids while we go to Home Goods. She is coming back to pick me up."

"Wait," I said "you are going to Home Goods with Lisa? What happened to drinking beers out back in the sun with me?"

Then it hit me, Home Goods. Lauren said Home Goods. The store that on most days, can just overpower Ikea as the best store ever, in the whole wide world. Me and a few Yeunglings didn't stand a chance.

A few minutes later I grabbed a beer and went out back. I sat on a wicker rocker in the middle of my yard and watched the dog chew a stick. I probably looked like a fool to my older neighbor who was busy raking her back yard and filling her birdfeeders with seed.

A few minutes after that Lauren and Lisa popped their heads out the back door.

"We're leaving." Lauren said. "Keep an ear out for Jackson."

"You are like the dog in the movie UP." I told Lauren. "But instead of the word squirrel, you hear Home Goods and you're like all distracted."

My neighbor, Mrs. T. (no relation to Mr. T of the I pitty the fool fame. I just am not using her last name give anonymity to people to save them the embarrassment of being on this blog. Although if her husband did use the phrase I pitty the fool it would be awesome.) head popped up from her diligent raking duties and said "Did you say Home Goods?"

It was like a squirrell ran in front of all of them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Maxfield's Mom Mom bought him a Snap-Circuits electronics project kit for his birthday. Using the resistors, capacitors, battery packs, motors and choke filters a kid can build all kinds of neat projects as long as he makes the right connections. Max and his Mom Mom discovered the Snap-Circuit toy at Henry's grandmother's house and Max's Mom Mom thought Max would enjoy one of his own.

Max's Mom Mom, my mother-in-law, is very close friends with Henry's Mom Mom. Henry is my best friend's son. Henry's Mom Mom is my best friend's mother-in-law. So my mother-in -law is friends with my best friend's mother-in-law. They live down the street from one another. Henry is also my Godson. Maxfield is also the Godson of Henry's dad. It is not as confusing as it sounds but it makes for an interesting grapevine. It is all how it is filtered.

"Johnny and the Mothers are playing 'Stompin at the Savoy' in Vermont tonight."
"Vermin's going to kill my brother at the Savoy theater tonight?"
"I didn't say that."
"No. But I know this grapevine."
~Johnny Dangerously~

Anyway, Henry told Max that one of the 300 projects in the kit was building a radio. Henry told Max that when he built his radio he was able to listen to the Phillies Game.

The other night I cam home from work and Max was working with his circuit kit. He was determined to build the radio by himself. He already succeeded in building the receiver and making a noise but was unable to tune the radio into a specific station. Somewhere on the board there was a connection missing. I looked over the plans, tweaked a line and showed Max the tuner which would filter and pinpoint the signals. Soon he was able to hear voices from the small plastic speaker.

"I want to hear the baseball game." Max said beaming.

I knew that he wanted, the next time he saw Henry, to be able to tell him that he too built a radio and listened to a game.

"Sorry Max, there are no games on yet." I said. "The season hasn't started."

Max continued to turn the tuner. He finally landed on a very clear signal from the local news radio station.

"What's this?" he said leaning in to hear the tinny voices and fake news ticker.

"It's the news Max."

"Hey Wyatt. " Max called into the other room, "Do you want to listen to the news with me?"

The two little boys sat at the kitchen table together listening to the news for about 10 minutes.

"How big is a tsunami?" Max asked clearly picking up on something said through the radio.

We already had a brief discussion about tidal waves and tsunamis a few days earlier when the events that happened in Japan first were unfolding. During that conversation I flashed back to memories of Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner discussing events and showing images of a jungle littered with bodies in the Jonestown Massacre, blindfolded and scared US hostages in Iran and large smoking reactors on Three Mile Island. Back then we only had 3 networks and a daily newspaper but I remember feeling inundated with the bad stories. None of it was filtered because it was the news. Or maybe it was filtered because it was the news. But I also recall being totally frightened by those stories, but that was also a time where at least once a month in our elementary school we held duck and cover drills in case the Soviets started bombing us. All of this scary stuff was happening in the real world, not to forget that with my overactive imagination, I was also terrified of alien abductions, Bigfoot, ghosts, the Hookman, and the dark.

We now live in a world where there is a constant flow of images and stories on cable TV and the Internet. I saw articles blaming the people of Japan for the earthquake. I saw videos and heard stories on Facebook and Twitter of people using God's punishment as an answer for the reason behind the tsunami. And as much as those videos and stories bother me, nothing was worse than various commentators and newscasters discussing the loss of life with so much indifference as if they were talking about a score in a football game. I felt inundated in the late 1970's I can only imagine what my kids must feel now.

I bookmarked some web pages with videos I considered safe for my kids to watch regarding the tsunami in Japan. I felt the need to filter the information they received. I want them to learn and be aware of the world but I don't want them afraid of it. When Max asked me how big a tsunami was we watched those videos together. Max and Wyatt were amazed and in awe of the strength of the water and amount of destruction it caused. They asked a few questions to which I had very little answers.

Mother Nature, acts of God (which I mean in the non religious, smiting or smoting way but more in the way to say things just happen) and Natural Disasters rarely have any answers. But making sure that kids have an understanding of what is happening in the world is all about how the information is filtered.

I wish more people filtered what they put up on Facebook or other internet sites and in the news. The world is a scarey enough place already with Bigfoot lurking about.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Super Cut

When I was a little kid I am pretty sure that my mom cut my hair. I don't ever recall going to a barber.

I think by the time I reached 5th grade I avoided haircuts all together (William 4'8 in 5th grade 5'4 with the Afro).

Somewhere around middle school I became very vain about how my hair looked. I was lucky enough that by the time I reached high school my sister was getting her cosmetology license. I was also lucky enough that my sister smoked. For a quick bicycle ride to the 7-11 and a pack of Marlboro I could get my haircut any time I wanted.

My sister had a pack a day habit. I had really nice hair in high school. Besides my eyes I always thought my hair was my best feature.

I still have nice hair although I no longer have my sister cut it. Now I either go see my cousin Jeannean, who is a Master Stylist which is like the Yoda of Hair Cuttery, or I go to the local Supercuts.

It has been a while since I have had my hair cut and it is getting bit unruly. The other day I received an email from the Supercuts people offering me a free haircut if I would tell the people who read here about their Hunt For Houston Promotion. If you go to Supercuts Facebook Page you can enter to for a chance to win a trip for 2 to Houston from April 1 – 5, 2011 for March Madness Basketball action. The package includes airfare, 4 nights’ hotel accommodations and $500 of spending money to help enjoy the on-court action. Follow the instructions on the Hunt For Houston promotion to enter a chance to win. Their contest ends on Saturday March 12th. I have nothing to do with how they will choose their winner for the free trip. I am merely passing along information.

A free haircut for me to post a couple of links is easier than riding my bike to the 7/11 for a pack of smokes.

Supercuts also offered me one prize pack (which includes $20. gift card to Supercuts, a $20. gift card to Sports Authority and a desktop basketball game) to give away to one of my readers. For a chance to win the prize pack just leave me a comment telling me what you consider is your best feature. I will pick one comment at random to win the gift card prize pack. I will take comments up until 11 PM Saturday March 12th. I will notify the winner via email so please leave a valid way to contact you.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Not a Clarinet

When Lauren and I first started dating Lauren told me a story about how she played the Clarinet when she was in grade school and that she wished she never gave it up. She said she was more interested in learning the piano or guitar now as an adult, but continuing the Clarinet would have given her a good musical foundation. I took a mental note with my mental pen and the following Christmas I bought Lauren a Clarinet. Lauren was appreciative of the gift but the Clarinet sat in a closet for years until we sold it at a garage sale. Somewhere between her first statement about the Clarinet and the second statement I ran out of mental ink. The Clarinet was one of the best/worst presents I have ever given Lauren.

A couple of months ago I asked Lauren what she wanted to do for her birthday, which is this week. Although her birthday is not a milestone birthday or anything I suggested we try to get away for a weekend. I am smart enough not to state her age, but a weekend without the kids would be a nice change of pace to celebrate the eighth anniversary of her 29th birthday. Lauren told me she would love to go shopping/antique-ing, go out to dinner at a nice place "nothing too fancy-schmancy", maybe a little bit of pampering, sleep in, and she would love to be able to go with me on a nice run through the country side or some other scenic place. I took some serious mental notes while she described her perfect weekend.

I checked with my mom to see if she could take the boys overnight one Saturday. She said yes. Checking that off my list made planning everything else easier, or so I thought.

I suggested we look into bed and breakfast places in Lambertville NJ or New Hope PA. Both places are quaint towns on the Delaware River, close to home, with plenty of shopping, restaurants and antique stores. For a few weeks I emailed several places looking for deals or discounts and to see if I could offer advertising space on the blog in exchange for a discounted stay. I learned two things; one, Bed and Breakfasts are expensive and two, my blog has no influence whatsoever. I told Lauren that staying overnight somewhere may be out due to budgetary restraints but since both places were close our house we could always just go back home. My mom would still have the kids and Lauren could sleep in.

This past Friday I used this thing called the Internet and did some searches for discounted B & Bs. There was a place called the Golden Plough Inn in Peddlers Village that was offering a serious discounted rate for one of their deluxe rooms, with a fireplace and Jacuzzi. Peddlers Village is a small village comprised of over 70 plus stores and restaurants adjacent to an small outlet store shopping center located in the heart of Bucks County PA farm country. Lauren and I have been to Peddler's Village dozens of times but we never stayed overnight.

We dropped the kids off at my mom's Saturday at noon and headed out for Lauren's birthday weekend. We walked in and out of antique stores without having to repeat over and over again "don't touch anything in the store." Lauren shopped in the outlet stores and actually tried on several outfits without having to park a stroller in the dressing room. We browsed an art gallery and had a conversation with the owner without once being interrupted by a screaming child. We ate a delicious dinner at a casual restaurant while drinking beer and not once did we have to scooch under the table to search for a missing blue crayon or dropped fork. We went to our room and sipped cheap champagne while sitting in a Jacuzzi.

Lauren relaxing in the Lobby of the Golden Plough Inn.

I reviewed my mental birthday notes. Shopping/Antiques- Check. Non Fancy Schmancy dinner-Check. Jacuzzi equals pampering -Check. Only two more requests to meet to give Lauren her perfect get away; go for a scenic run and sleep in.

Sunday morning we slept in until 6:30 AM. Most people would not consider that sleeping in but it was later than we normally wake up. Lauren looked out the window. It looked like it had rained earlier but now it was only a slight drizzle. We checked the weather channel. It was 53 degrees, perfect for running a nice, scenic, country side farm run together. We started our run at 7:00 AM

At 7:04 AM the skies opened up and we were drenched. Lauren decided that since we were already soaked we may as well continue running, after all it was her birthday wish to run with me. However, there was really no running with me. It was more like her running ahead of me.

We ran down nice country roads. In the pouring rain. I was nervous we would get hit by a car.

There is horse (no I do not mean Lauren) in this picture. In the pouring rain.

My favorite part about Peddler's Village is the names of the stores. I can't help but snicker like a 12 year old.

We ran past Knobs and Knockers (snicker). In the pouring rain.

We ran past the Cock and Bull (snicker). In the pouring rain.

We ran past the Nut Kettle (snicker). In the pouring rain. Do you know where the Nut Kettle is located in Peddler's Village? Just South of the Cock and Bull. I am not kidding.

We ran down some more farm roads. In the pouring rain. My clothes were soaked. I was hot and cold at the same time. I was tired. This was becoming the best/worst present ever.
Do you see how far ahead of me she is? We didn't really run together, it was more like me being nervous, panting, out of breath, just trying to keep up with her. Which after some thought, really sums up how I felt about her when we first met 13 years ago.

Happy Birthday Lauren.

Friday, March 04, 2011


Wyatt, like most middle child four year olds, starts most of his sentences with one of the same three phrases. The phrases are not really phrases at all but more like a an amalgam of words that have become a word in itself.

The words are Thatsbecausehe, Whatifits, and Thatsnofair. They come up in any and almost all conversations.

Let us start with Whatifits, which is used in conversations based around Wyatt trying to use Jedi Mind Tricks to get his way.

Eating dinner--Whatifits really gross? Can I still have dessert?

Going to the bathroom--Whatifits got germs in there? Do I have to go?

Going to bed-Whatifits really itchy in my bed? Can I sleep in your bed?

Discussing safety issues--Whatifits zombies attacking? Can I call 911? Whatifits a stranger wants to talk to me? Can I call 911? Whatifits a kid that is the stranger. Can I talk to them? Then can I call 911? (Wyatt is now fascinated with 911 partly due to lessons at preschool as well as the fact that Jackson accidentally dialed once and Wyatt was impressed that the police actually showed up.)

Playing games-Whatifits the Darth Maul level? Can we play longer?

Whatifits is used as much as Thatsbecausehe. However the word Thatsbecausehe is usually following a sentence or a cry from another person.

"Dad, Wyatt hit me."

"Thatsbecausehe wouldn't give me a turn with the Ninjago spinner."

"Dad, Wyatt pushed Jackson."

"Thatsbecausehe ate my cookie."

"Dad, Wyatt won't let me sit on the couch."

"Thatsbecausehe won't let me watch what I want to watch and thatsbecausehe wouldn't let me on the couch yesterday and thatsbecause he wouldn't give me a turn with the Ninjago spinner!"

Lauren and I are still trying to figure out where our kids have learned their sense of fairness, especially Wyatt. Thatsnofair is one of his favorite words.

Thatsnofair he gets to stay up later than I do.

Thatsnofair he gets to go to bed before I do.

Thatsnofair he likes his dinner so he gets dessert and I don't

Thatsnofair he always gets to watch his shows and I don't.

Thatsnofair you always go to work.

Thatsnofair he has his a Ninjago spinner and I don't.

Wyatt has recently added a new word to his vocabulary, the word canihave.

Canihave a banana? Canihave breakfast? Canihave a drink? Canihave a snack?

Pointing at the commercials on the TV -CanIhave that? Canihave that? Canihave that? Canihave that? Canihave my own Ninjago spinner?

We are working with him to be able to pronounce the word Canipleasehave.