Archive for the ‘my upbringing’ Category


A trip down memory lane

January 20, 2008

My parents are both medieval historians, which meant that growing up I spent a lot of time in Europe (to quote Eddie Izzard, “where the History is”).  As an adult, it sounds like an awesome childhood, spending every 3rd year in Oxford, travelling around to see castles & ruins, etc.  But I recently found some photographs from my youth that seem to tell a different story.

You can read the delight in my eyes.  I think this was castle # 7 of this one specific road trip.  We didn’t have a car when we lived in England, so we’d store up all our castlegoing into one fun filled week of rental car adventure.

I’d love to tell you that this is from the same road trip, but the truth is, I only had that one jacket.  But can you blame me?   When you find a jacket THAT attractive, who needs multiple options?  I subscribe to this same theory today, as anyone who knows me can attest.

My parents rented me to this man in exchange for a rare manuscript.  The worst part was when he teabagpiped my chin.

Looking back on all these photos, it’s hard to say which one best sums up my life in England.  But it’s pretty easy for me to say which one best sums up my life during the years we spent in the U.S.

YEEEHAW!!  Lighting shit on fire while naked in the gutter!  U.S.A! U.S.A.!!!


Fraternal Wisdom

December 25, 2007

My Brother: Have you seen the video of the fat kid falling off the diving board?

Me: No, I haven’t.

Brother: It’s hilarious – have you seen the video of the fat kid crossing the stream, and his friend kicks the plank out from under him?

Me: I haven’t seen that one either.

Brother: Oh man, you really should, it’s awesome.  [PAUSE] You know, just going to YouTube and typing in “fat kid” in the search box is like a recipe for instant comedy that never gets old.


Southern California TV Commercials from the 1970’s & 80’s

September 19, 2007

Santa’s Village 

Fred Rated 

Cal Worthington 

Colton Piano

Pete Ellis Dodge


What Not To Pour Up Your Nose

September 16, 2007

When I was in fifth grade, I had a cold & my sinuses were all stuffed up.  My parents had some nasal spray medicine & I got it & tried using it, but I think my nostrils were all blocked or whatever, and so it was not effective.  I decided that it would be better if I lay on my bed on my back & hung my head over the edge so that my nostrils were facing straight up, and then I inverted the medicine squeezy bottle & squeezed some of the medicine in one nostril.  It was enough.  Apparently the simple addition of gravity turns nasals sprays from “misters” into “streaming hoses of firewater.”  I am amazed I didn’t just start bleeding copiously from my nose.  The liquid jetted into my skull & mapped out my entire sinus cavity; for a moment it was like having a mental blueprint of the inside of my skull. 

So I can only imagine how much this video of Drew from Toothpaste For Dinner pouring whiskey into his nose via a Neti Pot (hippy!) must have hurt.  He starts with salinated water, which is the correct use of the product, and is frankly kooky enough, then progresses to coffee, and finally whiskey, which goes poorly.


Why Do You Need So Many Flamingos?

August 11, 2007

So, having a daughter I realize that sooner or later I may have to go to the zoo.  Unlike Disneyland, I’m not particularly stoked to take the Little Baby Cupcake to the Zoo.  But, since I was in the area today after lunch with a friend who lives on that side of town, I decided I should do a “dry run” of the Zoo, since I haven’t been there in 20+ years, and certainly the rest of Los Angeles has changed a lot in the intervening years.  I would hate to take Emerson there and find out that it’s a gang-banger hang out like Magic Mountain or that the Zoo randomly lets baby-eating animals out of their cages once a day or something equally crazy.

Like many of the non-zoo portions of Los Angeles, my gringo status relegated me to a very slim minority segment of the zoo populace (seriously, I believe flamingos outnumbered whitey at the Zoo, which also says a lot about how many fucking flamingos the L.A. Zoo has).  Undoubtedly I was the only solo white male in his thirties, which is an awesome way to be mistaken for a pedophile.  The racial mix wasn’t really an issue so much as the huge number of teenagers pushing their one & two year olds around in baby carriages.  That alone may be a good reason not to take Emerson here – I don’t want her thinking getting knocked up at fifteen is an acceptable norm.  But the best reason not to go was that the L.A. zoo is a festering pit of inadequate animal care.  The habitats are depressing, the animals look questionably cared for, and overall the place was just shabby seeming.  I think it’s Aquariums & wild animal parks for the LBC from now on.

The biggest plus of the Zoo was that the Mold-A-Rama machines are still in operation.  The one I really wanted was a statue of three chimpanzees doing the “hear no evil” bit, but unfortunately it had broken earlier in the day when the statue refused to leave the mold, so I settled for a Lion statue instead.  I gave it to Emma when I got home, but I realized that at 19 months old, she doesn’t really get the idea of “gifts,” yet.  Everything she sees in the world belongs to her. I’m going to have to start randomly withholding stuff from her so that she appreciates the plastic Lion statue more.


My apologies to Jonathan Rouse of Loughborough University

July 26, 2007

So, a little under a year ago I wrote this entry lamenting the fact that if you typed “Jonathan Rouse” into Google (with or without quotes) I was the second place result, behind some guy with my same named who worked for the aforementioned university. 

Well, thanks to the vast left wing conspiracy, since right around that time I’ve been the number one result on Google for searches for Jonathan Rouse, again with or without quotes.  More importantly, that specific entry with its argumentative headline (“Screw you!”) has been the number one result.  Which means anyone coming here via Google lands on that outdated & needlessly agressive entry first.  So, sorry about that, Jonathan Rouse of Loughborough University. I guess you’re not such a bad guy. 

In case, btw, you’re an old friend and you found this page by searching for Jonathan Rouse, and you want to know which Jonathan Rouse this is, it’s:

1) The one in his mid 30’s who works in marketing in the Los Angeles area

2) The one who used to live in Arlington in the mid 1990s

3) The one who spent some time in Oxford, UK in the late 1970s & early 1980s

4) The one who went to Paul Revere Junior High, University High School & UC Irvine

I write this because recently a college roommate I hadn’t spoken to in a decade found the blog and dropped me a note, and it was really cool.  Andre Torrez used to maintain a “people I’m looking for” page on his highly trafficked blog so that if they Googled their names they’d find his page and thus find him, but I’m not looking for anyone, I just think it’s neat when old acquaintances show up.


Lord Help Us

June 1, 2007

So, lately my fiery Latina wife has been talking about the tradition & beauty of Catholic services, even going so far as to attend a morning mass at her old school’s Church a few Sundays back.  As far as I can tell, she doesn’t really believe in the doctrines of the church, it’s more of a combination of nostalgia for her Catholic upbringing, a love of ritual & sacrament, and a strong desire to find inexpensive pre-school for the Little Baby Cupcake.  I mentioned to her that I believe the only reason religious day-care is inexpensive is because the churches are subsidizing the cost in exchange for the exclusive chance to gain a convert for life in the form of our impressionable (and let’s face it, easily duped) little 17 month old.  But she remains convinced there’s no agenda on the part of organized religion.*

The truth of the matter is, I think my wife may have caught a mild case of Jesus, and she’s not the only one.  Religion is a difficult enough issue for an individual to deal with on a personal level, all the more so for a couple, and exponentially more so when there is a child involved.  I’m deeply in favor of the trappings of Christianity (“do unto others” charitable works, etc), but I don’t particularly believe in the supernatural teachings behind them (miracles, heaven, the power of prayer, etc).  How will this impact the upbringing of the LBC?  Only time will tell. 

Until this matter is resolved, I will pray to Saint Fabiola (patron saint of divorces), for the strength to hold my tongue and the wisdom to avoid picking unecessary fights.

BTW, I’m really getting a lot of use out of this topically arranged list of Patron Saints.

*NOW who’s being naive?


Motherfucking Kindergarten

October 16, 2006

I swear a lot.  All the time; conversationally, in writing, hell, I probably swear in my sleep.  It’s like tourette’s.  I’m not sure if I could stop if I tried, which is going to make teaching my daughter to speak… interesting.  I’m pretty much resigned to her just learning a ton of bad words and telling them immediately to every three year old (and their parents) she meets.  Should make for some awesome conversations at the park, or day care, or while waiting in line at the supermarket, not to mention a series of weird “double standards” conversations between me & her later at home.  “Now Emerson, I know Timmy pulled on your pigtails, but that’s no reason to tell the whole class that you hope Timmy chokes on a bucket of cocks.”

Thinking about raising my daughter usually leads to me thinking about my own upbringing, but I can’t for the life of me remember learning swear words.  I remember learning about the birds & bees, and I remember hearing a couple dirty jokes that I didn’t get, but I don’t really remember learning a bad word.  When I was in first grade, I had dinner over at the next door neighbor’s house, and their daughter (a year older than me, and really sophisticated) warned me that they’d be serving Eggplant, which she claimed “tasted like shit”.  I knew at the time what the word meant, & I’ve hated eggplant ever since, but I’m not sure when I learned the word in the first place.   I knew it was a bad word, but I can’t remember ever having a “we don’t use that word in public” conversation with my folks.  Hey – maybe they never had that conversation with me, and that’s why I swear so often.

I’ll blame my parents when Emerson’s teacher calls me to pick her up from pre-school detention.


Touching the Dead

October 12, 2006

To get you in the mood for Halloween, here is the spookiest story I know; while I believe the story to be absolutely true, I must confess that this is my father’s story, and as such may have certain details completely made up, a hallmark of his tales if ever there was one. 

As a lifelong swimmer and member of the varsity swim team, it was only natural that my dad helped pay his way through college as a lifeguard.  This was in the mid 1950’s, in Iowa.  Now, they say it’s very common for competent people to fear failure of their competency more than the average person – like the pilot who fears engine trouble, or the race car driver who fears a collision.  In my father’s case, he’s had a lifelong fear of drowning, and despite swimming nearly every day of his life, very rarely went in the ocean, preferring pools, with no rip tides, and shallow lanes where he could stand securely on the floor.

One day, back in Iowa he got a call to come down to the lake, which served as the local swimming hole.  It was from the volunteer fire & rescue, looking to help search the lake for a missing swimmer.  I’ve only swum in a lake once, in Missouri, and the entire time I stared at the rocks that slightly overhung the shore, and I imagined the sharp toothed creatures that lived just under them, waiting to bite my soft belly when I tried to exit the lake.  Lakes may be good for boating, but in my opinion they are fucking creepy for swimming in.  The primary issue with the lake is that it’s murky, like the ocean, only you can’t touch the bottom, which you usually can when you’re playing among the waves.  Murky, and deep.  

So after quite a while of swimming in the lake, my father abruptly found the missing swimmer.  The paramedics later figured that he had accidentally wedged his foot between two rocks near the bottom of the water while diving too deep, and yet the water was just shallow enough that he could almost reach the feet of the people swimming above.  But down at his depth, it was pitch dark, only a little light from above as he drowned, watching the other kids playing above him, oblivious to his fate.  I don’t know quite what creeps me out more about this story, the thought of the poor kid drowning within (his) view of laughing, playing children, or the thought of my dad, the best swimmer I ever met, terrified of drowning, brushing up against a corpse in the pitch dark of the bottom of a lake, and only the touch of the lifeless body to tell him what he’d found.


The Wild, Wild West

September 2, 2006

Many TV shows have had great theme songs, and a few have featured great opening credit visuals, but no show in TV history had a better “theme song/opening credits” combo than the 1960’s Wild Wild West.  The credits unfolded like a cartoon, with each panel revealing a facet of the hero’s badass personality.  Hidden gun up his sleeve, quick on the draw, good with the ladies, etc. 

One thing I was interested to see: in one version of the credits, a woman makes out with the hero only as a ruse, so she can stab him to death while he’s distracted by her charms.  West figures this out and throws a right cross that knocks her cold.  In another version, every other detail of the credits is the same, down to the part with the female assassin, but this time she stops, during the makeout, and decides NOT to kill West.  Apparently his makeout skillz are so elite that she can’t bring herself to kill him. 

I knew of both versions as a kid, when I watched reruns of the show in syndication, but I always just figured the “non-violent” version came after the initial version, probably because advocates against violence towards women had complained.  Turns out I was wrong.  In the first season, the assassin decides of her own free will not to attack, but in all later seasons, West clocks her

By the way, if you’re a TV Show credits dork, this playlist is for you.