Archive for September, 2010

From point A…

“Excuse me,” I said to the casino worker, “How do I get to the Capital Grille from here?”  She’d clearly been asked that before because her reply sounded almost scripted: “Just follow this walkway all the way to the end, go through the doors on your right, then cross Las Vegas Boulevard and it’ll be right in front of you on the second floor of the mall.”  I thanked her and started down the path, thinking that even I could handle directions that only had three real steps.  I’m horrendous when it comes to these things, you see, and even worse when it’s a place like a casino that wants it to be confusing.  I felt confident about this short trip though.

When I got to the end of the walkway, there were indeed doors to my right.  “So far so good,” I thought.  I exited, hoping to see The Strip right in front of me, but instead saw a huge semi-circle driveway filled with cabs and limos.  I took the sidewalk around the giant drop-off area and got to the street.  In a small sea of people, I crossed the street confidently and saw a building in front of me that looked like it had some shops in it.  “Aha, said mall,” I thought.  Once again, there was a huge and crowded driveway between me and my destination, so I took a long arc of a sidewalk around it until I got to some entrance doors.  I stepped in and stopped with what must have been an awesomely confused look on my face.  “The ceiling looks the same as the place I just came from,” my inner voice said.  My confusion got a break when someone called my name.  I looked up and saw a man with whom I’d soon be dining.  “You gonna head over?” he asked.  “I was…just trying to,” I said, “But I think I ended where I started.”  “What?”  More talking to myself than him, I said, “But I crossed a street!  How am I back here?  It was a real street too, with a flashing red hand and everything.”  He laughed and said, “Well I’m gonna walk over there now if you want to come with me.  It’s just across the street.”  I said that would probably be best.  About three minutes later, we were there.  “Wow, that was a lot easier blindly following someone,” I said.  

I’m still not exactly sure what happened, but it’s safe to say that I don’t exaggerate how incredibly shitty I am at getting from one place to another.  And seeing as how my lack of direction didn’t stay in Vegas, I’m sure this won’t be the last time something like this occurs.   I can’t wait.

Tags: ,

Music for small ears, Part III

It took me a while, but I’m back to talk about the third section: Cool Kid Songs.  In case you couldn’t tell by this category’s name, it’s also my favorite of the groups.

I have to have a quick aside first, if you don’t mind.  One of our kids’ music cds has a version of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).”  I’ve heard that song more times than I can say over the course of my life, and yet I just really listened to it for the first time last week.  I know it might sound stupid, but I turned to my lovely wife and asked, “So they’re picking bananas at night?”  “What?”  “They go home when daylight arrives,” I said.  “I guess so then,” she replied while nodding.  I always thought of it at a happy “sing in the sun” type of song celebrating the day (o).  Instead, I guess it’s more of a “I’m tired of picking these fucking bananas all night so hurry up and tally me banana so I can get some rest” song.  Tally me banana, indeed.

Ok, back to the Cool Kid Songs.  A few years before we had children, a guy I worked with made me a copy of a cd called “For The Kids.”  Even being childless at the time, we listened to the cd and really liked a lot of it.  It had artists we dug, including Cake, Guster, and Barenaked Ladies, not to mention songs by Sarah McLachlan, Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish, Sixpence None the Richer, and the lead singer of Five For Fighting (with an incredibly catchy song called “The Hoppity Song”).  The songs were a mix of known kid songs, Muppet songs, and ones I didn’t know.  In short, it was great.

As a dad, I appreciated these songs much more.  Instead of hearing kids (or fake kids) telling me that they’re happy and they know it for a tenth time, I could choose to rock out to groups I like with songs they’d like.  The same is true with the “Curious George” soundtrack by Jack Johnson.  If you like Jack Johnson’s music, it’s just like getting a new cd of his with the added benefit of your kids probably liking it too. 

When we found out that the Barenaked Ladies had an entire album of kid songs called “Snacktime!,” we got it the very next day.  It’s awesome.  They sing about food, frogs, pirates, likes and dislikes, trees, allergies, and erasers.  Some of the songs could’ve easily been put on their non-kid albums and I wouldn’t have thought twice about them.  And just in case it wasn’t already completely up my alley, they have a song at the end called “Crazy ABCs” in which “a is for aisle,” “g is for gnarly,” “t is for tsunami,” etc.  My favorite is after saying “q is for qat,” Ed tells us that it’s a perfect Scrabble word because it’s a Q word that doesn’t require a U after it.  I laughed especially hard at that since my friend Lisa and I had just been playing “qat” against each other in our Scrabble-type game and enjoying its U-lessness.  “Aren’t your kids a little young for that?” you might wonder.  Well, yeah, but that’s not the point.  The songs are entertaining, and since they make me sing along and dance around for them, they’re exponentially more entertaining to them too. Win-win, baby, win-win.

One more thing to add before I wrap up this month-long series: lullabies.  How can lullabies be cool?  How about if they’re lullaby versions of Beatles songs?  What about U2 songs?  What if I told you that there are lullaby versions of Green Day and Metallica songs?  Pretty damn cool, no? 

So while we still listen to all three categories of songs in a given day, this one is obviously my favorite.  In fact, I think I’d devote a whole chapter to it in the book I’ll probably never write.  It would be about how to maintain your spousal relationship and the primary aspects of your personality after you have kids.  I was thinking of calling it, “How to Have Sex with Children,” but something tells me that might not go over well.  I guess not all wordplay is automatically good wordplay.  Shucks.  I guess I’ll have to give that some more thought.

Tags: , ,

Music for small ears, Part II

Hello again.  Since ending my last post mid-train-of-thought, I’ve had an unsettled feeling, akin to how you might feel if you heard the “Shave and a haircut” tune without the “two bits.”  So I’m back and ready to re-dive into the world of children’s music.  I think I mostly covered the section on classic kid songs, so I’m going to move forward now (knowing full well that I’ll probably be jumping back and forth between sections).

I called the second category, “Songs That Might Be Classics But I Didn’t Know.”   On our double cd of kid songs, there’s a good handful of these.  I didn’t know the “Mr. Golden Sun” song on there (though my lovely wife did), for example.  Another new-to-me song is “My Little Red Wagon.”  It’s catchy enough, but part of the song bugs the shit out of me every time.  It’s not the song’s fault either – it’s whoever produced these cds.  (Strap in, here comes a long ass tangent.)

Thanks to these cds, I’ve realized that there’s another thing in this world of which I’m not so fond: adults singing in kids’ voices.  In “About a Boy,” Hugh Grant’s character hates it when people sing with their eyes closed; stand-up comedian and actor Bryan Callen hates carolers because he can’t stand when people smile at him while they’re singing.  For me, it’s picturing grown women in a recording studio talking, singing, and laughing in their best pre-pubescent voices.  That said, these cds already had an uphill battle. 

Back to the “Wagon” song now: the part that bothers me is after the first chorus when the “kids” have a little “impromptu” chat.  “Hey Michael,” says one, “Have you ever thought of painting your wagon green?”  “NO!!” he answers, “It’s a RED wagon!”  Then together: “Yeah!  Hahahahaha!”  Are you fucking kidding me?  That’s what passes for dialogue in this genre of music?  Wow.  When I was three, I made up a joke: “Why don’t you put mustard on a hamburger?  Because you put ketchup on a hamburger!”  I think those are on the same level, though it’s worth noting that I was an actual kid when I came up with that and not a 50 year-old woman pretending to be a kid way older than three.

Crap, now I’m fixated on that cd.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re catchy songs and I’ll continue to sing along and dance to them as long as that makes my kids smile.  That doesn’t mean I have to like all of their artistic choices though.  Speaking of which, they erred on the side of being overly safe and politically correct in ways that no one would’ve thought twice about.  For example, they sing a version of “We Are Family.”  “I got all my sisters with me,” they sing.  Then – where there’s no room and it’s nowhere near in rhythm with the song – a voice adds, “And brothers!”  Heaven forbid we single out the females in a song.  Similarly, they have the “Baby Bumblebee” song that I learned at camp a long time ago.  My version had the speaker get stung, then smash the bee in retaliation, lick it up, and then vomit all over the place.   This one…doesn’t.  I can’t even remember what they do instead, but after getting stung by the bee, of course one of the “kids” throws in, “It didn’t hurt though!”  I think that’s a much worse direction to go in.  Why would we try to teach kids that getting stung by bumblebees doesn’t hurt?  I realize that they don’t follow up with, “Let’s go play with that beehive!  Yeah! Hahahaha!” but it’s still irresponsible if you ask me.  (And yes, I realize that nobody asked me.)

To be perfectly fair, I really like one choice that they made on this collection of songs.  You know “Bingo” (sorry, “B-I-N-G-O”), right?  Well I was standing over my kids’ playmat and being a silly dad for them when some pretty funky disco music came on.  “Aw yeah!” I said, as I wondered what song it might be.  Then the lyrics came: “There was a farmer who had a dog, and Disco was his name-o.”  Nice touch, fake children. 

Ok, I’m stopping here.  I plan on posting something sometime soon about the third category, but since I just said something nice about the music, it’s probably a good place to stop before I think of another part that bugs me.  Have a nice Saturday.  (And Sunday! Hahahaha!)

Tags: , ,