Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Baby Crack

We've been having the debate here, which changes constantly, about when/if to use the pacifier. You read stuff about how it shortens the length of time a child will breastfeed. You read about how you should really try to find out what the baby wants instead of just quieting the kid down. You read so many conflicting things that it's difficult to know if you're ruining your child when you shove the binky in.

It's an interesting effect that the pacifier has. It reminds me of bad movies where a thuggish guy sneaks up on the lady from behind and, with his leather-glove-clad hand, holds a rag soaked in ether over her face. You stick the pacifier in the baby's mouth and he struggles for a moment. He keeps his mouth wide open in defiance, shouting the whole time. Then, if you hold it in there like the thug and his glove, the kid gives in and starts working the binky in a carbon copy of Maggie Simpson.

And you have to wonder whether something that makes a parent's life so much easier (or at least less shriek-filled) can possibly be good for the kid.

In the end, we're deferring to our pediatrician, who dismissed cries of boob-doom and said that we should use the pacifier as needed. Just not all the goddamn time.

Monday, November 24, 2008


You Got Some Splainin' to Do

This morning at a little after four, my life turned briefly into an I Love Lucy scene.

I woke up to hear my son fussing in the co-sleeper. Figuring that I was being all gallant and giving my wife some extra sleep, I scooped him up before it turned into full-blown crying. I bounced and shushed him for a minute or so and, when that was utterly ineffective, I took him to the changing table.

The diaper beneath his pajamas had a small squirt of poop in it, but not enough to really make him uncomfortable. Not one to leave even a little bit of poop--I'm so responsible--I took the quasi-soiled diaper off and gave Spencer's bottom a quick going-over with the wipe.

As I did this, he crapped again. I wiped it off of the changing pad and folded the pad over to keep the poop off my child. Who pooped again. I cleaned that off. Then there was some slightly-wet farting. As fast as the stuff came out, I endeavored to wipe it off my son's ass. Finally, the butt eruptions ceased and I felt safe enough to move the new diaper into place.

At which point he let fly one more squirt. Scratch one clean diaper.

He's sleeping now. All that pooping must be exhausting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Remind You of Anyone?

Seriously, these guys put the "heart" in "heart-warming." They're truly caring, loving human beings, overflowing with the milk of human kindness and packed full of gooey, sticky altruism. "Hey, we'll give you an extra month before we boot you out on your ass."

Thanks for caring, Fannie Mae!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Don't Shiver Me Timbers

All I've got to say to this is: really? Pirates?

Aren't we in the 21st goddamn century? And we're still dealing with motherfucking pirates? Don't these yahoos realize what a stupid cliche the whole pirate thing is?

What's worse is, these Somali fucks aren't even doing it right. You seeing any parrots in all this news coverage? I'm not.

Fucking pirates.


Letter to My Son #4

Dear Kid,

So, today is your one-month birthday. Thirty-one days ago, little man, you were born. You are utterly delightful.

You're a little calmer. Or maybe you mom and I have gotten a little better at calming you down--mostly your mom. Nearly entirely your mom.

This was a big weekend for both of us. Three out of your four grandparents were in town. In fact, your Grandpa Wack met you for the first time. He was duly impressed. Your cousin, Riley, came, too, although your mom and I hardly recognized him, as he's grown a whole lot since April.

We went to MoMA, where you saw your first Miro. And where I used my first public changing table. What a good time we had there. I don't know how anyone could have more fun in a public restroom.

A little while later, the whole lot of us visited the only Starbuck's in the city that doesn't have a changing table in their restroom...and so another first: I changed you on a wooden chair as a crowd of people slurped frothy coffee drinks.

And now you've turned a month old. As my dear old grandfather used to say, "Holy goddamn shit!" Seeing your cousin really hammered home how quickly all this changes. First you'll start eating something other than your mom's milk. Then your poop will start to smell. Then you'll be off to college to earn a degree that won't get you a decent job.

It's gonna be one giant blur of outgrown clothes and music I don't like and it's going to pass by me in the blink of a goddamn eye. Lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof suddenly have meaning in my life. Ain't that a bitch?

Monday, November 17, 2008


The Future of Hairshirt?

Weird. Turns out, this whole baby thing can make other things seem like much less of a priority. Things like keeping current on comic books. Things like sleep. Things like blogging.

Also contributing to my silence the last couple of weeks is the strange sense of un-bitterness I've felt since the election. How am I supposed to help people with their misery when I'm feeling so fucking Mary Poppinsish?

I'm considering changing the name of the site from Hairshirt to Fluffy Terry Cloth Robe and writing about nothing but bunnies and pretty clouds from here on out.

Thank God my students still tell me to fuck off or I'd be an Osmond.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008



Can you feel it, America? It's coming, and soon. Change. You can just kind of tell that it's going to be different this time. This is not the same old status quo.

It's been a long time coming, too. It feels like we've been wondering lost forever. That's almost over, though. Our long national nightmare is, at last, coming to an end.

I don't know when I've been this excited, this optimistic. There's something beautiful on the horizon.

I can't tell you how much it means to me that Top Chef is set in New York this time. Y'know? I'm so grateful that it's back. It's going to restore our country's hope, I think. Don't you?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Totally Called It

Over four years ago, I posted the following:

Whither Cynicism?

There's a story with which I'm sure most of you are familiar. It's about how a young guitar player named Robert Johnson met the Devil at a crossroads. (Ralph Macchio may have been there, too. This is open for debate.) According to the story, Johnson sold his soul to the Devil and, in return, received the ability to play the guitar like nobody else on earth. From that day forward, audiences would sit spellbound as Johnson made music the likes of which had never been heard.

After the second night of the Democratic National Convention, I'm more convinced than ever that the story is true, and that a young politician named Barack Obama has made a similar deal.

How else to explain the extraordinary impact this man made with his first nationally televised speech before he's even been elected to a national office?

Maybe it has to do with the politicians who spoke before him.

First, there was Ted Kennedy, looking for all the world like Mr. Toad from Wind in the Willows, who gave a speech that made me wish he'd been drunker, because then he'd have at least been entertainingly pathetic instead of just long-winded.

Then we had Dick Gephardt, whose political career is now as faded and ethereal as his eyebrows. It took me halfway through his speech to remember that he even ran for president this year.

Following Gephardt, we had Tom Daschle, who shared the typical stories about how he loves to keep in touch with his South Dakota constituents. "I recall a conversation I had with a prostitute in Sioux Falls who took my dick out of her mouth long enough to ask, 'Senator, how am I going to afford health insurance if the Republicans take away my student loans?'"

After that came Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, who is apparently the butcher younger sister of Billie Jean King.

Next there was Howard Dean, desperately trying to solicit that last tiny bit of adulation from the crowd with applause lines from eight months ago. "The democratic wing of the party! Haha...You know, 'cause, 'cause I'm liberal? Is this thing on?" I'm thinking that, after he lost in the primaries, party officials made him remove his testicles and put them in mini-storage. Either that or they had him on some kind of Super-Valium.

Then came the keynote speech. And I was awed. Let me just say that I'd heard the hype beforehand and was prepared to dislike Obama on principle. But when he was speaking, I literally couldn't help but be impressed. He's a fantastic, Clintonian speaker. He actually earned each five second pause for applause. Except for the bits he was obliged to throw in shoving daisies up Kerry's ass, he truly sounded like he has convictions. Convictions! Remember those?

I found myself, totally and without regret, buying into the hype and thinking, "This guy is going to be president someday." And so did the wonks covering the convention, at least those on PBS, who could be heard talking about "the birth of a new political star." This guy is the Tiger Woods of government! And I love it.

The thing is, though, this is all based on one goddamn speech. I have no idea what this guy stands for. For all I know, he could be against stem cell research and for the Star Wars missile defense system. He might be in favor of legalizing public whippings and regulating the amount of syrup I can pour on my flapjacks. But here I am, automatically giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Which is how I know. I know that this guy has made some sort of deal with the Devil. Because my cynicism is powerful mojo. It would take a genuine, Real Deal politician to get past that. And they don't make those anymore. Do they?

Thank fucking god.


Please, Please, Please

I've lived here for a long while now. I live right across the street from the school where I vote and, walking my dogs past it this morning, I was delighted to see--for the first time since I've lived here--a long-ass line before the polls open.

Oh, mercy.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Lord, Hear Our Prayer

A quick election-eve prayer:

Please, Jesus, don't let Americans fuck this up again. Or I'll puke non-stop for a goddamn year or something. Seriously, I won't be able to stop vomiting at the knowledge that Sarah Palin is a weak-ass old heartbeat away from the Oval Office.


Sunday, November 02, 2008


Watch Your Mouth

So, yesterday, I made a giant mistake. When asked about how our son was doing at night, I actually said, "Well, he's been doing much better the last couple of nights." (nights...nights...nights)

Naturally, last night was our worst yet. Very cranky. Up frequently. Zero sleep.

If I didn't think my kid is the greatest goddamn thing ever, nights like that would piss me off.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


(Not) At the Movies

Bit of a revelation this week.

I come home from work yesterday and pick up our mail from the box. As it's Friday, the new Entertainment Weekly is in there and, wouldn't you know it, it's the Holiday Movie Preview. (Which is not nearly as cool as the Summer or Fall previews, but whatever.)

Anyway, I'm looking at Daniel Craig on the cover and trying to decide if I want to go see the new Bond movie when it all of a sudden hits me: It doesn't matter if I want to see it or not. We've got a new baby, so we're not going to get out to see a movie 'til fucking Memorial Day, man.

I mean, it's not like my wife and I have ever been on-the-town scenesters or anything, but we have been known to get our movie on. It's been a little while since there was anything out there I really wanted to see, but now we've got Zack & Miri Make a Porno coming out and then it's Oscar-bait season and we're going to see none of them. Hell, I may have to start buying pirated movies on the subway just to keep up.

Truly, this is the dark side of parenting.