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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Speech (shelved)

"When you disparage, demean, trivialize, mock, or patronize the parenting of fathers, whether from afar or in the very act of their parenting, you are resuscitating the stilling world of damaged gender role stereotyping that ought to vanish into history. Ma'am, respect male parents as parents, refrain from the cheap humour made available by our cultural immersion in sitcom fatherhood, or in exchange you must not only accept the diminished role you will see fathers take in the lives of their children, with all of the attendant costs associated with that absence, but you must also remain silent in the face of those workplace jokes about your "emotional" nature. Because that is the world you are endorsing. Is it worth it? Is it right?"


A lot of the world can be contained in, and expressed by, an inflection.

Erin climbed the jungle gym reserved for 5-12 year olds with her usual derring-do, and I followed close behind. She charged past the two emaciated adult forms at the top on her way to the 10-foot slide. If they weren't at a park at the top of a jungle gym I might have taken them for a starving homeless couple. But given our geography, the time of day, and the presence of three miniature versions of themselves I hastily concluded that they were yippies (hippies who owe their yuppie income to the organic food/alt. lifestyle pop culture movement rooted in the Bay Area).

Erin crouched and moved her legs into position to begin her ride down to her smiling mother's open, encouraging arms. A small ridge at the top of the slide impeded a smooth transition from a crouching position to a seated one, and Erin started moving forward with her feet slightly beneath her as her shoes caught this ridge. Her awkward pose quickly turned into a more elegant but less slide-appropriate kneeling position, which in turn transformed into a full belly-flop as she gained momentum traveling down the ten feet to the bottom. Her mother caught her in case her inertia would have carried her face-first off the end of the slide onto the wood chips carpeting the ground.

Unnerved by her unanticipated Olympic Skeleton qualifier and poked in the face a little while being rescued at high speed Erin expressed her discontent with some pathetic wails as her mother consoled her.

And from the yippie mom standing next to me at the top of the jungle gym came a startling "Da-ad." It was a mixture of disapproval and humour, both an assignment of blame and an attempt to soften the blow with a joke. I was supposed to be in on the "da-ad", and recognize my role as the bumbling, unaware male who was incautious and slightly incompetent; I was supposed to be an enlightened token of a ridiculous stereotype: a sitcom dad who was aware of the nature of the sitcom and who was invested in the success of the show.

I was embarrassed that I hadn't seen Erin catch her foot on the top of the slide in time to stop her from tumbling. I was embarrassed as a parent. But it wasn't until I heard "Da-ad" that I realized I was supposed to be embarrassed because I was a father. That is, it wasn't the fact that Erin had tumbled and I hadn't caught her that was of concern; nor was it the fact that as a parent I had given her the headway to take on her own challenges; it was the fact that I was a father and, per stereotype, the expectations for me were lower and I had met them. And having met them I could be boxed up and delivered back to my wife, her surrogate-in-momhood at the top of the slide having done her part.

I am more embarrassed at my response than I was at Erin's fall. I slipped all-too-easily into the role of a sitcom dad. Instead of letting myself show any distress at all that my daughter had just gone face first down a slide and might not feel that great about it I let the "Da-ad" admonition corral my genuine feelings and I offered up a sterilized model to the world. Or I let it goad me into being unfeeling so that it wouldn't look like I cared what the yippie had to say, so that I wouldn't let her win. I'm not sure which is the truth. But I let Emily do the comforting while I grinned a defeated rictus grin from the top of the slide and asked Erin if she wanted to go again while she sobbed on her mother's shoulder.

I seethed. I seethed at this woman's ignorant inflection. I seethed at my own response. I seethed at the playground equipment designer who had included a tripping ridge at the top of the slide. I seethed out of irrational embarrassment and out of righteous indignation. And while I seethed I wrote a speech in my head.

I never did deliver it. I decided that I was reading a lot into an inflection and that maybe with the benefit of the doubt "Da-ad" might have simply been the interjection of a friendly do-gooder park parent; maybe she would have offered an equally disapproving but humourous "Mo-om" if Emily had been the one at the top of the stairs. And while this might mean that she deserved some kind of reply I only had the one speech written. So I shelved it.

And Erin climbed the stairs and slid down the slide for 5-12 year olds over and over again while the yippie kids played around her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It was unexpectedly good

The four tween girls blocking the theater door, giggling, and dancing over the threshold in some weird game that only makes sense to tween girls should have been my omen: I had made the choice that was bound to make me the most uncomfortable.

Earlier in the day I had announced my boredom with Holocaust movies and asked which of Twilight or Bolt was less creepy to see by myself. Replies were mixed, but definitely skewed toward seeing Bolt.

I should have listened to this slight majority.

But no, instead I "excuse me'd" past the girls and walked up the stairs to the back row of the theater and settled in for the "clueless kid meets another kid, an "other", a foil, with unhealthily pale skin and messed up teeth and together they challenge the oppressive blond enemy and teach him a lesson" flick.



Surprisingly, I found their fantastical relationship really believable. I didn't expect to. There were a lot of ways the director and the actors could have failed, and they just didn't. Every detail, like the pale kid's obsession with his food, made everyone seem more human, not less. It worked. I bought it all. And I was really, really invested in their relationship, and affected by the stress their being together brought into not only their own lives but into the lives of those around them. As I said, it was the uncomfortable choice.



Holocaust movies always are.


P.S. As I was watching it I kept thinking "this is really a movie that ought to be watched in conjunction with Pan's Labyrinth." And there are a lot of reasons why that is the case, and I thought about writing this post as a compare/contrast/argument review of both movies. But this was more fun.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


This is the label from a package of bowls we just bought at Target.


They seem to be fine bowls. Nice picture of a kid there on the right.


There are many things written on the back of this label, among them:

  • "Fun design lets your child eat from a fish bowl."
  • "Great for mom to feed baby or child to use at mealtime."

I'll ignore the obvious problem of Munchkin amputating their market and offering a tacit insult to dads in general, involved dads a little less generally, and at-home dads in particular. Well, I'll ignore it starting now. No, now. Now? (#munchkindads)

I ignore it because I need to move on to that circle in the upper right corner of the label, just next to the "Munchkin" logo.


Yeah. That says "Munchkin's pet division."

So...I understand that the bowls haven't actually been used by pets before I bought them. And that just because they are designed with pets in mind has nothing to do with whether or not they are just as good at containing kid food as kitty food. And that Munchkin is definitely not suggesting that parents should or ought to treat their kids like animals (#munchkindads).

But come on. At least lie to me and tell me the bowls were made in the Happy Rainbow Children's Dinnerware Kingdom by magic elves or something. At least tell me that someone didn't see sales of dog dishes falling off and think "You know who would buy the hell out of these things? Parents."


Here kiddie kiddie.

Or puppy puppy.


"Grrrr, guys. Grr and woof woof."

The Slick Wrench

These are notes I've jotted down and meant to go back to but I have little intention of doing so. And in some cases I don't even remember why I was making the notes to begin with. This is what a writer's/writers' block purge looks like.



Green Fairy: adolescent, drunken-ness. Perpetual childhood (Tinkerbell, absinthe)

Blue Fairy: reality, growing up, responsibility (Pinocchio's angel, Glinda the Good witch)


Plato for Preschoolers

This is Plato. He looks like Santa.

Plato likes smart people.

Plato does not like the dark.

Plato thinks if  you know what is good you can't be bad.


And then, like a flash, he was gone....

Dawn dawned, as dawns tend to dawn, over Portland that dawn. As the city awoke its citizens pumped through the cosmopolitan arteries, little realizing that a hero was walking among them...

I have a Latin teacher who really deserves to written into a character in a novel, because he is just so unusual and confident at the same time. He likes to use examples of academic prowess and moments of revealed character to inspire his students to study and work hard to achieve something, but he has no modesty in his small frame so his examples all involve himself: He is the world's leading James Joyce scholar, he will say; he once killed a water moccasin that was sneaking up on Clarence Thomas; as he would walk down the cobbled streets in Oxford people would trail after him, fans of some quiz show he had appeared on.

He must be rubbing off on me a little because I've had this overwhelming urge to tell one story in particular over the last couple of days.


Six Quirky Things

iMommy tagged me to write six quirky things about myself.

(Editor's Note: FAIL)


Worst Marketing Campaign Ever

"Enter to win a FREE CREMATION!"


Tiger Tiger

When he was 17 he lied about his age and joined the army, to serve his country in Vietnam. Or so I'll suppose. Blah blah blah...what's up with the huge tattoo of a tiger's head on your engorged abdomen, dude? And why do you have to be lying on that particular grassy knoll with your pants undone, Flashing the Tiger while you doze?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parts of this poem are good

Ruminate on expectations, drudge cogitating snot.

Exsanguinate crimson corpuscles, suck chuck-muck.

Porous veil, lacy gently wafting; Gottado Watta.

Reveal the cellar door, abort the slick wrench.

Illuminate, intimate, procreate. Vomit, belching, bile.

Accomplished. Final.

Final, this Curate's Egg.


(This inexplicable post is a writer's/writers' block alleviation that owes itself to the #goodwordsbadwords challenge on Twitter from Her Bad Mother. Although I ignored her word choices because I was in the middle of writing this when I received her suggestions.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

McStepford: A lesson in Cool

One of Erin's baby friends, whose name I will change to Froggy for no nefarious purpose but merely because he was dressed as a frog for Halloween last year, moved into the neighbourhood across the street a few months ago.

It is an intimidating neighbourhood. That is, when Froggy's mom was greeted with welcome baskets of cookies and muffins and frankincense and myrrh she was also greeted with the ominous: "We go all out for Halloween here."

She wasn't quite sure what to make of this, but she heard it over and over again from neighbour after neighbour: "We go all out for Halloween." Veiled behind this description was an instruction: "You will go all out for Halloween here."

"All out" meant decorating and giving out candy on an enormous, four Costco bags scale; no matter that Froggy is too young to go trick-or-treating himself: "Don't disappoint the neighbours by failing to fully participate in Halloween." It meant that one family set up a haunted house, while another one was known as the "water station" for the parents, where "water" means "definitely not water." Playtime at the park with other families new to the area was filled with conversations beginning with "Have they come by to tell you about Halloween yet?"

As Halloween approached and the decorations and candy were purchased Froggy's parents grew bored with the idea of answering the door every 30 seconds to dish out a handful of candy to the kids who were coming from all over (some were dropped off in cabs. I'm not joking.) Halloween can be tedious if you let it be. The neighbourhood's reputation was built on opulence: impressive decorative displays and magnanimous distribution of candy. Froggy's parents had the candy but the decorations weren't keeping-up-with-the-Joneses. And they didn't care. They were going to insert themselves into the neighbourhood and stamp it with their idea of fun rather than let the community mold them into the perfect McStepford household.

A table was set up on the front porch. A hand-scrawled sign was made that read "American Idol Auditions", and a toy microphone and speaker set were brought outside. And then, with the help of some friends who came over for the evening, Froggy's parents played "American Idol" judges for hours and hours while forcing the kids in the neighbourhood to sing for their Costco candy. They stayed in character (Simon, Paula, and Randy) whenever there were kids around and the line to sing sometimes stretched down to the street.

You'd think the kids would have been shy. In fact, Froggy's parents figured no one would sing and this experiment in scrounged conceptualization and personal enthusiasm would be an epic fail. But the kids sang.

The adults sang. The grandparents sang. The preschoolers sang. Even, toward the end of the evening, the teenagers. The self-conscious, easily embarrassed teens stepped out of their cocoons of faux-coolness to sing songs of their own choosing in front of total strangers, risking that fate worse than death to a teen: mockery. But just as the teens were uncharacteristically brave, so too were their contemporaries uncharacteristically joyous and encouraging. There was no room for cynicism on the porch.

Once, as one crowd of singers and groupies dissipated three figures materialized out of the darkness, stepping forward into the porchlight.

Figure 1: "You have done the neighbourhood proud."

Figure 2: "Very proud."

Figure 3: "Too proud."

All Together: "Ha. Ha. Ha."

Figure 1: "You have set the bar high for next year."

Figure 2: "Very high."

Figure 3: "Too high."

All together: "Ha. Ha. Ha."

And with that the Wyrd Neighbours cloaked themselves in darkness once again and returned to the "water" house.

Coolness, the teens realized and Froggy's parents demonstrated, is what happens when you embrace even your meager resources with enthusiasm. It is giving a shit, completely, about what you give a shit about, not pretending that you don't. It is not keeping up. It is remaining yourself, and thrusting yourself into the world, not like it belongs to you, but like you don't belong to those around you.

Froggy's parents offered the best, most enduring Halloween experience for everyone who came by, and it wasn't because they spent the most on candy or decorations, but because they spent the most of themselves. And doing it because they thought it would be fun and hoping it would entertain the kids meant that even that cost was minimal: a little laryngitis the next day; a dead battery in the scrounged mic-and-speaker set.

Next year they're going to make the kids dance too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Speechless Wednesday

Baby #2 Ultrasound

May 15th, 2009

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hugs and Cuddles and Things That Make You Feel Sick

I don't quite remember when Erin started giving hugs voluntarily instead of out of self-defense as her mom or I tried to squeeze her joy into the world. And I don't remember when she started running up to us and hugging our legs just below the knees.

There was a gap, a long period in which she was no longer helpless (and so couldn't struggle away from us), but too excited about exploring the world to remember to return to us, her lifegivers, and reward us with some spontaneous affection.

She does offer up the occasional hug now. And she'll lean in with a kiss and a loud "mah!" When she hugs she says "awww" and pats my shoulder as if to reassure me: "You are doing a good job, guys." But she still isn't a stay-at-home-kid. She isn't one to sit in a lap and watch the world.

She owns the world, and she needs to explore her fiefdom as often as possible.

We know other toddlers who are much more willing to sit with mom or dad. Erin is wriggly. She learned the word "down" and she isn't afraid to use it. We wonder sometimes what the world is like for parents who have stay-close kids. Who, when they put their toddler down in the middle of a patch of grass she doesn't immediately run to the edge and try to leap into the street. Do they feel more rested? My legs get tired chasing that kid around.

Her daycare teachers described her as "busy" after her first day. I think that was polite code for "what are you feeding her?" or possibly "You will have to teach her to settle down and eat her snack or she will always come home with milk on her shirt."

As of this weekend though, proving that parents are rewarded for patience, we've figured out what slows Erin down and turns her into a cuddling homebody: a fever of 102.

She developed a fever over the weekend and she's been adorably, uncharacteristically needy. Emily wanted to keep her up late just to get in more hug time, because Erin has been laying out on our chests like she hasn't done since she was a squalling infant. She'll rest up a little, then get playful again, then get tired and crawl up into a lap. And today was the first time in months that she has fallen asleep in my arms.

I miss that, so much. I'm not sure I miss it "watch a fever of 102 for a couple of days and listen to the occasional miserable whimper" much. But a lot.

I love that kid. I don't want her to be sick. I want her to go off and own the world again. But those spans of time when she forgets to dish out some spontaneous affection had better abbreviate. I don't want to have to carry a vial of flu virus around with me when she's in high school just to make sure I get a hug before prom.

(Editor's Note: I figured that I kind of owed a daddy blogger post. Especially since this site was inexplicably included in Sweetney's 10 Favorite Dad Blogs and On Teens Today's Top 50 Dad Blogs list. Sweetney's list I understand because I can and will quote from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog at the drop of a hat and that makes me objectively awesome. But the On Teen's Today list was a real surprise. Teens care what dads think? I hope that stays true for at least 18 more years.)

Circumlocuting Thanks

This is the most awkwardly expressed post I can remember writing. I know that because I've trashed four versions of it. It's important that I say what I'm saying, but I just don't know how to do it properly, so I end up writing incoherent, babbling, sentences that are barely related to each other. Ever happen to you? Also, it's all wrapped up in this "I just want girls to like me" meme that has been reproducing itself and directing my actions since high school, and it's hard to look that right in the face, but I have to if I'm going to understand all of the reasons this needs to be written.


I don't think I voted in the state election immediately prior to this last one. It was utter laziness. When we moved to the Bay Area I never updated my voter registration. It took someone literally shoving a clipboard into my hands at WonderCon this year for me to finally register. And even then I might not have done it if the line I was standing in hadn't been so long.

Before this year I was a fairly apathetic voter. I've had periods of high interest and low interest, but mostly I just didn't care. I could talk about politics as much as any other suburbanite driving an hour to get to work in the morning and listening to talk radio could do. But I didn't really care. Not enough to update my voter registration when I changed my address.

Maybe it took having a daughter who was growing up in a world affected by public policy for me to really start caring. Enough to fill out a piece of paper while standing in line to do other things, at least.

But I can't credit Erin with all of the interest I've had in this most recent, most historic election. And I don't think it has much to do with me.

It's them; not the big red ants; but the big red (and blue) bloghers, who have generated and maintained my interest in politics and who have inspired me to participate and think about what is going on around me instead of remaining at a cynical distance. Their earnestness and effort shamed me into activity. And the bullshit they have to put up with for not only writing about politics, but presuming to do so in an environment that mantles itself in misogyny when arguments fail, spurred me to be better than the anachronistic reactionaries permeating the political ether.

It isn't that there aren't male bloggers out there who could have inspired this same kind of attention in me; but for whatever the reason (*cough* I want girls to like me *cough*) I just don't read them. And if I did I can't be sure that they would have had the same effect on my political psyche. I did listen to male talk radio hosts for years without ever experiencing the same kind of excitement about politics. Of course most of them were insane blowhards, because that's who gets to host radio shows. But still, I've never cared as much as I do now.

So, Erin, Liz, Julie, Dana, Stefania, Jill, Joanne, Debbie, the Momocrats and BlogHers who have not sat idly by while other people decide what kind of world my daughter will inherit:


you know.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


This is why we never buy toys.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proposition 8: A Glimmer, A Glimpse, of Hope

Acting with a swiftness that suggests, to the ironically-minded, a Boy Scout's preparedness, the ACLU very quickly filed a petition with the court today that provides a small ray of hope to the thousands of same-sex couples in California who face having their right to marry stripped from them by a ballot proposition amending the California Constitution.

The issue? Proposition 8 was an inappropriate vehicle for eliminating the right to marry. Instead of an amendment, approved by a majority of the voting population, the ACLU alleges that what is required to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry is a revision.

What the hell is the difference between an amendment and a revision and why does it matter?

The ACLU petition asserts that Proposition 8 "would work a dramatic, substantive change to our Constitution's "underlying principles" of individual equality...[prohibiting] California courts from exercising their core, traditional, constitutional role of protecting the established equality rights of a minority defined by a suspect classification...[effecting] a far reaching change in the nature of our basic governmental plan.""

This, the ACLU thinks, is enough to call what Prop 8 does to the Constitution a "revision" rather than a mere amendment. That is, it does more than insert a line of text that only affects the laws of the state: the insertion of that text changes the relationship of core components of the makeup of the state, in particular the courts' ability to apply the principle of equal protection to an identifiable minority group. To make this change is a revision, not an amendment.

A revision, according to Article 18 of the California Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature just to call for approval of a convention of electors (voters) to decide the fate of the revision. An amendment, according to the same article, may be enacted by the electors themselves by simple initiative (like Proposition 8). That is, while an amendment only takes one act of decision-making, a revision requires three (legislature, voters, convention).

If the argument is successful then Prop 8 is dead because it was never the right vehicle for the elimination of the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Ironically, had Prop 8 been proposed years ago, instead of the overturned Prop 22 (which was a simple law and not an amendment) then this challenge to the Proposition might not even exist. It is because marriage is recognized by the courts as a fundamental right, and because it was recently ruled to apply to same-sex couples as well as heterosexual couples, that the bold argument that what Prop 8 attempts to do is revise the Constitution can even be made. Before the courts' overturned Prop 22 it was not nearly as evident that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was denying them a fundamental right. It is that judicial history now that leaves the door open for the challenge from the ACLU.

Backpacking Dad is not an attorney but he sure has seen a lot of Law and Order episodes.

Monday, November 3, 2008


"Sing a song for me," the boy demanded of Coyote.

"You will have to catch me first," replied Coyote.

And the boy chased Coyote around and around, through furrows and sorrows and marrows. And when he thought he could run no longer the boy saw Coyote look back over his shoulder, and saw Coyote's tail slow its recession. With one finger the boy touched Coyote, and Coyote sang a song for him.

"That's a good song," the boy said to Coyote.

"It is a song, like other songs," replied Coyote. "But with that one ringing your ears your mind is sifted. Now hear this song. It is a special song."

And the song chased the boy around and around, through furrows and sorrows and marrows. And when it sang that it was coming to an end it caught up the boy's mind. With one note the song touched the boy, and the boy spoke a word for it.

"That's a good word," Coyote said to the boy.

"It's a word, like other words," replied the boy.

"No," said Coyote, "it is a special word. It is a story word."

"What does a story word say that other words do not?" asked the boy of Coyote.

"There are three: the argument word, the poem word, and the story word. You have said the story word. The story word says what is."

"How have I said this story word when before I said only words like other words?" asked the boy of Coyote.

"The song," replied Coyote. "When your mind is prepared through sifting, when it hears this song it surrenders the story word."

"What is the name of this song?" asked the boy of Coyote.

"It is the World Song," replied Coyote. "But now that you know you must say the story word and be forgotten."

And the boy said his story word and was forgotten.

And Coyote laughed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I've been a terrible citizen lately, and I've been called on it. I have been taking, and doing a lot of shouting, but doing very little conversing and interacting. The strength of a society lies in the coordination of its members; the coordination of interests, the accommodation of radically different interests; the identification of incompatible interests. And that coordination takes interaction, communication.

And I haven't been doing my share.

But, hell. Maybe it only seems like I haven't been doing my share lately because I was so over-participatory before. You could hardly go anywhere without seeing a little bit of graffiti that I'd left behind, declaring my favour or disfavour toward something somebody said in the society. Maybe I've cut back to normal levels for a member of society.

Or maybe I am just inconsiderate.

In any case I don't see being any better about it in the near future. I can't participate at the level that I used to, and I can't bring myself to tailor my participation to the needs of the individual members of the community.

I can and will only operate whimsically and opportunistically, not strategically.

In case I'm being too cryptic I'm talking about blogs, blogging, commenting, etc....I haven't even been as good about replying to comments on my own blog as I used to be, and I've been much, much worse about commenting on the blogs I have on my blogroll, and I've been much, much, much worse about commenting on blogs written by people who stop by here. I participate as time and fancy co-ordinate.

So. I'm a bad blog citizen right now. I don't know what else to tell you.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

BBQ Sauce

On the way home from Baby Loves Disco tonight it was requested of me by my lovely wife that I stop at the market to get some baked beans and some barbecue sauce to make some chicken breasts that tasted like barbecue sauce.

I was inclined to acquiesce to her request.

My grill is out for the count, so I did a quick broil job on the chicken. I made a rub, rubbed my meat, and then broiled the chicken for ten minutes. Then I mopped it with some sauce: Stubb's Barbecue Sauce. I let the chicken go for another couple of minutes, turned it over and mopped the other side and broiled it for another couple of minutes to finish it off.

The chicken breasts that tasted like barbecue sauce were a hit. Erin loved it. Emily almost made me swear never to make anything else ever again. And I thought they turned out to be pretty tasty.

As we were eating we flipped over to Back to the Future because Emily has requested that we institute a new "no shows that are too severe" rule in the house as Erin has grown older and seems to understand more of what is going on. CSI was right out.

We intercepted the BttF broadcast just as the "Enchantment Under the Sea Dance" was starting. We watched the incestuous make-out session between Marty and his mom. We watched the attempted date-rape of Marty's mom by Biff. We watched the gang-violence assault on Marty by Biff's cronies. And we watched those same cronies call one of the Marvin Berry band a "spook" and then refer to them all as "reefer addicts." And we watched George slug Biff so hard that the 200 lbs bully was spun right around and knocked unconscious.

Our other option was The Wedding Singer, but we had tuned in just as one of the kids was calling Sandler's ex-fiancee a bitch.

I'm not wagging an ironic finger at Emily. It only occurs to me, now, just how mature the scenes in BttF are. Well, I'm not wagging an ironic finger at her yet.

Back to the past: As dinner was cooking I was flipping through the channel guide and I saw the details of a show or mini-series or something called "Legend of the Seeker", and when I saw that it was a television adaptation of Terry Goodkind's fantasy novels I exclaimed, quite uncontrollably and disgustedly, "Oh shit!" Because Goodkind has menaced geeky fantasy readers with badly argued Libertarian political philosophy for years. Heinlein at least did it well, and passionately. Goodkind abuses his readers. He also wrote himself into a horrible corner and had to turn his hero into a god in the last twenty pages of a series that ran in the thousands of pages. And yes, I own all of the books. I am large.

Anyway, I exclaimed, quite loudly, "Oh, shit!" And Emily, understandably, said "Watch your language!" and indicated Erin, who looked just as disgusted as I was about Goodkind's show.

Back to the future: we settled on Back to the Future, and started in on our chicken breasts that tasted like barbecue sauce. And Emily exclaimed, quite uncontrollably and disgustedly, "Oh fuck!" because she had just spilled some of Stubb's barbecue sauce onto her shirt.

I turned to Erin and asked "Did you catch that?" Wag, wag, wag.

Future to the future: As George wound up for his gigantic punch to Biff's head a thought occurred to me. And like so many of the thoughts that occur to me, I believed in my heart that Emily needed to know this right now.

"You know, this story isn't a fantasy about a kid traveling back to the 50's and changing his future by changing what happens in his parents' high school. This story is a fantasy about an adult changing what happens to him in high school, and his future. This is George McFly's story. Marty is just a tool of time travel. He is like a human DeLorean."

And Emily exclaimed, quite uncontrollably and disgustedly, "Did you use the Philosophical Barbecue Sauce? Because mine hasn't kicked in yet."

So it goes.