Friday, April 8, 2011

Calling the game

If today’s post seems even more spastically disjointed than usual, I apologize in advance, but I also have a reasonable excuse, namely a whole lot of manic energy with nowhere good to channel it. Today has a very last-day-of-school feel to it since it’s not only my last day before going on paternity leave but also the day I need to finish packing up my desk because the agency’s office move will happen in my absence – but I’m the only person who is operating under those exact conditions so the vibe isn’t pervasive throughout the cubicle farm so much as in my own head. My wife and I are both hanging on to as much optimism as we can about a 100% unassisted labor naturally beginning this weekend, but at the same time my wife is pretty certain that today is not the day unless things really ramp up out of nowhere. So, huge changes on the horizon but not a lot I can do about them anyway. Let’s talk baseball.

For many years, before the advent of the YES network on cable, my dad would watch the Yankees games on tv with the sound muted. I always thought this was a little odd, all the moreso given that he grew up in the halcyon transistor-radio age of America’s pastime when there was sound but no pictures, and he had completely swapped sensory inputs. But his reasoning was simply that on the national broadcasts the commentators often showed slight favoritism to whoever-was-playing-against-New-York and took cheap shots at Steinbrenner’s organization whenever an easy opportunity presented itself. This may or may not have been true, and may or may not even have any inherent verifiability since the whole premise is layer upon layer of subjectivity, but in any case I came to respect my dad’s decision. Really what he ended up doing was creating a kind of home experience that was akin to being at the ballpark in person, where you can see the game but not hear any running commentary. And he only talked about why he watched the games audio-free when I asked him about it; in other words he wasn’t constantly grinding the axe about Joe Buck and Tim Carver’s pandering to the slight majority of baseball fans who are Yankees-haters, he just steered clear of it and enjoyed his fandom quietly, which is kind of refreshing.

So I respected what he did and why but never took up the practice myself, because I always felt like I had so much to learn from the announcers and commentators who could really analyze and break down what was happening on the field. Since I never played baseball in any organized way there were a lot of finer points of the game I was clueless about. Over the years I think I’ve caught up to the point where I can hold up my end of a reasonably intelligent conversation, and in that time I’ve gotten so used to the (real or imagined) tone of the broadcasts (a steady between-the-lines implication that goes something along the lines of reveling in every Yankees failure and belittling every accomplishment as nothing more than what you’d have to expect from the game’s most outrageously outsized payroll) that I’m simply habituated to them, and let the talking heads in the booth fill my living room with steady patter not because I need it but because it’s always been there.

BUT! I’m no longer entirely sure I can maintain my cultivated indifference any more. Because I am a few pages away from finishing Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, and while it has been an exhilarating tour through the institutionalized misconceptions and self-defeating conservatism of the modern MLB the one thing that sticks in my craw hardest right now is: Joe Morgan is a bloviating moron.

All right, I might forgive him if he grew back the sweet sideburns.
Joe Morgan calls baseball games on ESPN, of course, and for a long time I’ve thought he was kind of a kook, but Moneyball (at least the paperback edition I’m reading, which has an afterword that allows the author to comment on the reaction the book got in MLB circles when it was initially published) calls Morgan out for some foolishness that I really have a hard time suffering. Moneyball, I’ll say again, was written by Michael Lewis. It focuses a lot on the behind-the-scenes strategies of the Oakland A’s as engineered by their GM Billy Beane. Lewis portrays Beane as kind of a mad genius flouting conventional wisdom, and Lewis often looks at the rest of the baseball establishment and seems to ask “why don’t the rest of these guys wise up to what Beane has figured out?” Joe Morgan, in an interview after the book came out, referred to it as a book that Billy Beane wrote. He was, as far as can be determined, not being ironic. He was corrected and told Beane gave access to Lewis but Lewis wrote the book. In a later interview, after being corrected, Morgan again attributed (or more accurately, accused) Beane with authorship, not to mention egomania. Oh and did I mention Morgan was spouting off about all the things Billy Beane shouldn’t have said in the book he wrote, when Morgan himself had never even bothered to read the book? I assume by now y’all know that willful ignorance is quite high on my personal list of Things That Rankle. I mean, dang.

So yeah, Lewis’s account is going to make it hard to take Morgan seriously as a reputable broadcaster (and it was already somewhat difficult). Lewis himself, on the other hand, is all right in my book. I think he has officially made it to my other personal list, Folks I Would Gladly Buy A Beer For So We Could Hang Out And Talk, where he joins Dan Savage, Sarah Vowell, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman. Yes, they are all writers which I am sure comes as an utter and world-tilting shock.

Anyway, thankfully the possessors of the golden pipes who watch from the broadcast booth are not so important to baseball season as the baseball itself. And the season is only a week old but already shaping up to be a doozy. I’m happy that the Yankees are (over an admittedly small sample-size of games, but still) consistently winning 2 out of 3 per series, especially since they tend to start slowly in April. And I’m happy for the O’s who have jumped out to a 5 and 1 lead of the AL East, admittedly mainly because that makes my wife very happy. The television has of course become almost exclusively a baseball-delivery appliance and we’ve had very little reason to curse and scream at it thus far. We were on a collision course for that becoming half-inevitable, as the Yankees and the O’s are playing against each other next week but – surprise! The opening match of the series is the evening of induction day, so we’ll have other more important things on our minds than our respective teams’ middle relief. Still, it’s a long season, and here’s to it being a good and memorable one.

(Speaking of next week I may or may not post something shortish on Monday but will with almost complete certainty go dark for a while after that. Catch up when I can.)

(Oh and ha ha guess what? Looking for a picture of Joe Morgan online led me to the info that he isn’t calling ESPN baseball games this year after all. So I won’t need to actively avoid him. I can safely disdain him while listening to entirely different people’s self-aggrandizing quasi-commentary. Cool.)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sneak Attack

I’m sure it rarely comes across but I do sometimes try to plan ahead as far as what I’m going to blog about, either during any given week or any specifically-themed day, at least in broad terms. I spent so much time on Tuesday talking about the Chuck E. Cheesesperience that I didn’t have the opportunity to get into the Toys R Us excursion immediately prior to the birthday party. That struck me as worth holding onto, though, for the usual Thursday offspring-oriented post, because I could at least start with describing the toy train demo which happened to be going on when we showed up, and of course completely enthralled the little guy (to the point where later that evening he was asking “Where are my Chugging-times?” because of course he assumed the Chuggington engines and track set he had been playing with at the store were now and forevermore his to keep) before moving on to my own personal toy obsessions, like have you guys heard of these Ninjago sets?


My wife and I have an eternal debate about overdesigned Lego sets versus open-ended piles of generic bricks.  I REST MY CASE.

And maybe I could ruminate extensively on how sometimes I don’t completely trust myself to put my son’s actual needs ahead of my own wants. So far I feel like I’ve been winning the war-against-myself as, for example, despite how much I really want to be able to trade Star Wars quotes with the little guy (and he’d be up for it, he is a quote-spouting machine) I have yet to sit him down to watch Episode IV with me. But I wonder how much longer I can hold out. Ditto with things like LEGO FREAKING NINJAS which really are not age-appropriate until he’s like 8 or so. (And buying the toys now but hiding them away for the next five birthdays and Christmases is a slippery slope, I fear.) Plus the added complication that even if I somehow rationalized and convinced myself that the little guy is already ahead of the things-in-mouth curve and I wouldn’t have to explain tiny plastic shuriken shapes on the x-rays of his stomach to any concerned medical professionals, there’s another baby on the way and I’m not entirely sure we should have any choking hazard toys in the house for the little guy at all until the little girl is well and truly beyond the experimental plastic-tasting phase …

But then of course as if on cue, it is the little girl herself who is dominating my offspring-oriented thoughts this afternoon. My wife had separate appointments with both her OB and the midwife yesterday and on the one hand dang near everything about the baby and her present environs are still perfect, but on the other hand there’s a slight but hazardous to ignore rise in my wife’s blood pressure becoming apparent, and given a complicated interaction of various factors like past history and present circumstances and so on, the professional advice all around seems to be that the baby needs to make her debut sooner than later.

So we agreed to that in theory yesterday and there was a follow-up appointment today and not too long ago plans became duly finalized: we will be expected at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday. Of course Nature may yet choose to demonstrate that she’s running the show and send my wife into labor between now and then – and that would be fine, really! We made it well into April, as of today over a week longer than my wife’s pregnancy with the little guy lasted, and a surprise trip to L&D tonight would not put us out in the slightest. But if the process has not begun by Tuesday morning then it will be helped along.

Fortunately said help will take the most minimally intrusive forms possible – last time my wife was subjected to the whole arsenal of options all at once which was a mite harrowing, but this time it can go more along the lines of trying one little thing, waiting and seeing if it works, trying another incrementally larger thing, waiting and seeing, and so on. And it’s great to know that the midwife, especially, is approaching it that way and looking out for our comfort level with the process, not just how fast and efficient the whole enterprise can be. Plus there’s been a growing impatience in both me and my wife, at different times and to different extents, to get on with it and transition from pregnancy days to baby days, and now the countdown clock is quite readable.

But, in other ways, all things of course being relative – it’s a bummer. The whole pregnancy had been so (again, relatively) uneventful and positive-trending that we really thought my wife would simply go into labor the old fashioned way, which we didn’t get to experience the first go-round and were honestly looking forward to the second. And it’s not entirely about fetishizing some ideal of natural childbirth, either. The flipside is that medical intervention in jumpstarting the delivery of the baby is a little scary and nerve-wracking under the best of conditions. Which, for the record, we are pretty much under, so as is my constant refrain, it could be a lot worse. Also for the record, I don’t think that fact makes not liking the situation any less legit.

But this too shall pass. We’ll deal with it as we need to in the now, and get through our bad feelings about it, and in the end we’ll bring our daughter home and get on with the good stuff. At some point after that and before her first birthday I may even start blogging again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pulp based on gaming based on comics based on pulps (The Freedom Phalanx)

I totally admit that when I learned that The Freedom Phalanx existed I was immediately seized with morbid curiosity. I’m a huge fan of the City of Heroes MMORPG – haven’t played it in a while due to time constraints and computer issues, but it still ranks as one of the reasons I’d really like to get a beefy machine online in the house again – and in the past I sampled the tie-in comic books which were published when the game was first getting off the ground. Those comics were not terribly good. I’ve also been known now and then to pick up professional, published prose fiction based on well-established comicbook superheroes, from short story anthologies focused on Batman’s nemesis the Joker to original novels starring Daredevil. These have also been not terribly good; not terrible, really, but nothing to get too excited about. So by the literary/algebraic calculation of multiplicative not-terribly-goodness, I just kind of expected a novel based on an online video game to be wretched. Compellingly so, perhaps, but still a trainwreck.

But funny enough, it actually wasn’t a total disaster. I might even go so far as to say it was pretty good. Still not something to get excited about, of course, and despite the fact that several of my buddies are also (former) CoH players who also have various reasons to enjoy a little light genre reading, I’m not rushing to press my copy into any of their hands. But I was sufficiently entertained in the process of reading it, almost as much for the nuts-and-bolts mechanics of it as for the narrative experience itself.

Yeah the whole 'Go, Team!' pose really counts as a spoiler, doesn't it?
I thought the subject matter was handled reasonably smartly, for one thing. Given the fact that American superhero comics have been around for over seventy years, and the current playing field of the Big Two (Marvel and DC) was more or less formalized fifty years ago, anyone wanting to tell “original” superhero stories has two choices: create an entire world out of whole cloth which is as unique as any genre-bound modern invention can be, or use analogues and pastiche and so on to leverage the world-building done in the past half-century to your own creative advantage. The people who designed the CoH game went the latter route and I can’t really fault them for that. Their goal was to program a comicbook world in which players could create their own brand new superheroes to work their way up from rookie to legend,a nd they succeeded by just sketching in the milieu and then focusing on actual gameplay and whatnot. So does their world have any hero in it like Superman? Yes, he’s called the Statesman, and he’s your basic guy in a cape who flies and hits things really hard and so on. An Iron Man? He’s called Positron and his proprietary-tech armor is exactly what you’d expect. In a few cases they changed things around a bit to yield results with a bit more synthesis to them than simple name-and-color-scheme changes. Synapse is like the Flash with the addition of electrical powers. Manticore is a blending of Batman’s motives and methods with Hawkeye’s trick arrows. Sister Psyche falls into the token female role of a Wonder Woman, but instead of being a distaff Superman she has an array of mental powers from mind-reading to emotion-projection. (Those five heroes are the ones on the cover of the book above, and you should be able to match the descriptions up with the images without my help, which is one of the virtues of comics tropes that I do so love.)

Anyway, these transparent homages can be the best of both worlds in a decent writer’s hands, because the writer can utilize parts of the originals’ backstories and just make passing reference to them which the audience, familiar with the source material, will just get. (Manticore fights crime because his parents were murdered? No need to dwell on explaining that connection.) The primary benefit to this, to my mind, is that The Freedom Phalanx novel is not a collection of origin stories, because it doesn’t have to be. The author isn’t obligated to explain why someone who has abilities far beyond mortal men then proceeds to put on a garish costume and mete out vigilante justice; those are just the ground rules everyone already accepts. The novel can drop the audience into a world with decades of adventures having already happened, and it doesn’t feel disconcerting.

But at the same time they can deviate from the source whenever that serves the story. Statesman, for example, gets not only a daughter but a granddaughter. The Freedom Phalanx itself, from whence the title of the novel, is a heavy-hitter team of heroes, equivalent to the Justice League or the Avengers. Or rather, it was, but then disbanded long ago and may or may not ever reform. (Though the title kind of gives that away. But still.) The real comics could never afford to have their marquee all-star teams simply stop being published for decades, but in the hypothetical history of a video game superheroes world it works.

To me this is where it gets interesting. Comics have an economic incentive not too change too much, to preserve an eternal status quo wherein what you got in an X-Men comic a few years ago is what you’re going to get today and tomorrow, the better to hold onto lifelong fans who are willing, happy even, to buy the same mental comfort food over and over and over. City of Heroes has the same limitation, but amplified, because the main story they’re selling is the one someone creates by playing their own character in the gameworld; the trappings of the gameworld have to remain essentially constant. So a novel fleshing out the backstory of the gameworld should have zero suspense to it, because any reader familiar with comicbook tropes and/or the nature of the game (and the target audience no doubt is intimately familiar with both) will fully expect the status quo not to be challenged. None of the main characters can die and nothing earth-shattering can happen because all of those characters and their world persist in the game that people continue to subscribe to.

So of course the good guys are going to win and of course the Freedom Phalanx is going to end up re-established with the cast of the novel as its core roster. (Also, of course the main bad guy Lord Recluse is going to be defeated but inevitably escape total destruction because he’s the main man in the companion game City of Villains.) The entertainment value of the story and any momentum it might generate is going to come from the how-factor, the details of the victory and any little twists and turns that can be wrung out the premise. And the novel really worked for me on that level. There’s an overarching plot about numerous bad guys teaming up to take over the city, a threat which only the combined forces of good can withstand, but the heart of the book is about the personal crises the individual heroes face which prevent them from just banding together and smacking down the villains on page two. Statesman is functionally immortal but his wife isn’t, and her declining health drives him to distraction. Sister Psyche’s powerset makes her uniquely vulnerable to being overloaded and exploited, and she spends most of the book imprisoned and out of commission (though I give the author a huge amount of credit for having SP ultimately rescue herself rather than playing the damsel in distress). Synapse isn’t entirely convinced he even wants to be a superhero, despite his powers, and Positron desperately wants to be a superhero but is hobbled by his own inexperience and insecurities. None of these are particularly groundbreaking, I concede, not even in the sense of “yeah, a novel can really get into those interior conflicts way better than comics” because comics have been hitting beats like that for years. But even if it wasn’t breathtakingly daring storytelling I thought it was better than it could have been. I had expected a few hundred pages of the heroes behaving inexplicably like idiots spinning their gears before finally arbitrarily changing tactics and winning against the evil forces in a final showdown. Instead I got something at least halfway intelligent about characters with recognizably human flaws put through extreme circumstances and pushed to the brink before the final win against evil which, clearly, I both wanted and needed all along.

Plus, the novel had just enough Easter Eggs within it to make me happily geek out a little whenever I recognized a passing reference to something from the game, like recognizing the interior layout of a combination factory and warehouse because it was one of the maps a player must navigate in the early levels. At the same time it wasn’t like choking down an all-you-can-eat Easter Egg buffet with endless, gratuitous references to the CoH game. So both the winks and nods and their relative restraint got my approval.

Anyway, any day when I go trawling through what has every right to be the lamest peripheral cash-in dreck imaginable but end up finding something crafted with a modicum of thoughtful respect for the genre, the source material (and its proto-source material) and narrative in general is a pretty good day as I tally them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Of Mice and Munchkins

The most notable and surprising disappointment of our recent excursion to Chuck E. Cheese’s with the little guy was the complete absence of a ball pit. I had genuinely expected there to be one, in no small part because some of my buddies used to work at the House of the Rat back in high school and the ball pit figured in more than one of their stories, but no. (What a difference the almost twenty years since high school graduation makes, I suppose.) My mother-in-law had also admitted to seeing an enclosure of multihued plastic spheres in her mind’s-eye conjuring of the place and asked me to take a picture, which was already on my list of things to do, because come on: a smiling tow-headed cherub half-submerged in primary colored balls? That is a textbook Kodachrome moment right there. Alas, all it takes is one toddler coming up with a cigarette butt in her mouth left behind by the highschoolers who closed up the night before and the ball pit becomes more maintenance trouble than it’s worth and goes the way of … Kodachrome, I guess. (I hear textbooks are on the way out, too.)

But since the little guy had absolutely no expectations whatsoever, he had a grand old time. He’s still a bit too young for the video games and the tests of skill – though he played an 18-wheeler driving game with his mom and helped me swing my arm for a bit of Skee-Ball - but he’s plenty young enough for the kiddie rides, and in fact for big vehicle-shaped hunks of plastic which rock slightly back and forth to qualify in his mind as “rides” in the first place. In even more telling point of fact, for the first little while that we were there he was perfectly content to climb into one of the rides, spin the steering wheel a bit while making vroom-vroom noises, and then climb out. Then at some point we showed him what happened if we actually fed a token into the ride, and he was pretty well into that from then on. He also worked his way up to feeling brave enough to ride the tiny, three-pony carousel a couple times after initially being overly wary of it, but mostly he enjoyed rocking the school bus ride, the roadster ride, and the Scoop (the backhoe/bulldozer from Bob the Builder) ride. He also cracked us up by consistently referring to the tokens as “gold doubloons” – he’s been on quite a pirate kick lately.

Other than that, you know, I think given the sensory-overload nature of Chuck E. Cheese it was largely lost on the little guy that he was at a birthday party in the first place. I think he was just about the youngest child who attended the party and, at this stage, being even two years younger than the birthday boy means they’re not really peers at all. For all the little guy knew, his mother and I just took him to Chuck E. Cheese’s for fun, and at one point we forced him to sit down with a bunch of other older kids and eat pizza and chocolate cake (neither of which he finished, since he was much more interested in playing and generally running around).

Ah, those were the days.
Even the singing of Happy Birthday To You didn’t particularly make an impact, I imagine, since it was integrated into the hyperactive Chuck E. floorshow and commemorated about half a dozen birthday boys and girls at once. Speaking of the musical entertainment, another thing that struck me as times-a’changin was the fact that the animatronics seem to have been largely replaced by video screens, which I suppose is how the current generation of rugrats receives most of their information from birth onward anyway. Here’s the real downside, though: the videos for the sanitized covers of pop music that was marketed to tweens-and-younger to begin with star human actors in character costumes instead of plushie-bots. And I’m sure you can all think of disturbing things related to cybernetic plushies, but trust me, humans in costume are worse, especially when the get-up in question consists of fitted street clothes with animal hands and feet. Miley Cyrus is terrible and her quasi-song Party in the USA is pretty insipid, but a video in which Helen Henny dances around to said noise in an immobile chicken mask and shakes her jorts-clad booty to emphasize “moving my hips like yeah” – that will haunt me.

But where was I? Oh yeah, taking a two-and-a-half year old to Chuck E. Cheese’s. Honestly, I think every parent should take their child there at that age, and I’m completely serious, and here’s why: at one point the little guy was on course to get on the Scoop ride for about the seventeenth time that afternoon and a slightly larger, slightly faster and definitely oblivious-rather-than-malicious kid cut him off and climbed on first. The little guy of course responded to this in a very two-and-a-half year old way, by immediately throwing himself on the ground in utter, wailing despair. Which lasted for a little less than three seconds before he got right back up and looked for another ride; I reckon that three seconds is about the amount of time required for him to calculate the weight of all the running around and climbing on stuff he could be doing against any possible sympathy he might be incurring with a tantrum, and to decide that the tantrum was a waste of time. So with zero intercession by me, he self-corrected almost immediately, which was an object lesson (and one I admit I need reminding on now and then) in the fact that much of the time his tantrums are all for show. He’s extremely adept at making it seem like they come from a place of legitimate anguish, but they’re pretty superficial ploys for getting what he wants when all is said and done. And since I don’t really want to raise a child who sees tantrums as a good way to get what he wants, it’s important to remember that those tantrums only have as much power to make the little guy truly miserable as he gives them himself.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Outlook hazy

Things are good, I feel compelled to say whenever I lead off with an ambiguous post title or any kind of intimation that things are less than pleasant in my neck of the woods. Things are good. They’re just a bit off in terms of not being super-easy to predict.

Where it stops, nobody knows
Here we are with a mere twelve (!!!) days to go before my wife’s official due date, as official as these things get at any rate, as we all know that obstetrics is not an exact science. Be that as it may it definitely feels as though we are in she-could-go-into-labor-at-any-time territory. And there have even been a couple of faint but encouraging signs that things are heading in that direction, as of course they must. But as I half-joked to my wife last night, I really don’t want to go to work all five days this week if I don’t have to. (NB: this is true basically every week, I just happen to have a semi-plausible alternative at the moment.)

Thus I find myself hedging my bets somewhat. As I was picking out clothes this morning I determined that I have just enough clean shirts to get me through to BizCasFri, and I proceeded to wonder if I should go to the drycleaners to pick up the last batch I dropped off and drop off the latest load. If the baby comes this week, I’ll have plenty of time to sort all of that out, but if I have to come to work again a week from today, I’ll be glad to have already restocked my side of the closet, even if sidetripping to the drycleaners after work is kind of a drag.

Same token and no pun intended, my commuting plan for this week has to take into account the possibility that I may need to head westward at a moment’s notice at any time. Which means both the bus and the VRE, with their rigid and limitedly intermittent schedules, are out. My wife is actually on a much-reduced schedule this week and home today, which normally would mean I could have taken the bus. But I Metroed in because it’s the most flexible option, while still not being too onerous. If I’m still coming to work next week, assuming my wife’s doctor lets her go past the 39-week mark she’ll hit on Saturday, then I may very well start driving all the way in to give myself the ability to drive straight to the hospital as that scenario goes from possibility to probability to near-certainty. Which has a certain onerousness about it, but which would in turn be outweighed by sheer necessity and mental comfort level with the circumstances and so on.

And on top of all that, the office move is really taking shape. I had my computer equipment inventoried today! Boxes for packing up our stuff are supposed to arrive tomorrow! I’ve been shown my assignment on the new seating chart! And it’s all allegedly going to go down on April 21st (really starting April 20th because that’s when the IT department is going to start dismantling workstations) and at this point I honestly have very few reasons to doubt the dates. But there is always the possibility that some monkeywrench could foul the gears between now and then, but but but there’s an equal-to-greater chance that I won’t be around to see that if it happens.

At this point though the thought of the birth of my daughter is more or less all-consuming so I don’t have much feeling to spare for the office move one way or the other. I definitely won’t drag my feet about packing up my stuff since I don’t have much of it to begin with and I can’t count on being here much longer myself. I really should be thankful to miss the bumpy transition period associated with moving day itself because, despite my protestations about not wanting to miss getting paid to sit on my duff doing nothing, that’s really not terribly fun and I am better off missing it. Still, will I even make it in tomorrow to receive my official moving boxes? Will I come back from a few weeks paternity leave and find that the agency actually hasn’t started the relocation at all? I just don’t know, and I don’t really have any way of knowing.

P.S. Trying to get back on schedule here so I’m leading off with the usual work-and-commute-related stuff. Chuck E. Cheese’s was non-traumatic and actually pretty fun but I will get into that in more detail tomorrow.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Toddler Toggle

One of these years I’m probably going to get around to doing something very meta with the blog – who knows, it may even also be vaguely humorous – to commemorate April Fools Day. But this is not that year. So everything you are about to read is legit, for values corresponding with the usual levels you’ve come to expect from me.

No doubt these are the most adorable horns and fangs spawned from the abyss you are likely to see all day.
This Week In Raising A Two Year Old actually had quite the upswing in its second half. I didn’t want to jinx anything yesterday by mentioning that Wednesday evening’s bedtime routine was much more on-model than the previous two nights, but it was. And last night followed the same improved pattern, so once again I found myself imagining a large GOOD/EVIL switch inside my son’s brain, albeit flipped back to the preferred (hopefully default?) position. Tomorrow we’ll be taking the little guy on his first ever visit to Chuck E. Cheese’s – not as a reward for behaving reasonably well two nights in a row per se, but simply because one of the neighborhood kids invited him to a birthday party. (Yes, this is the same neighbor I blogged about last spring, jiminy crickets how time flies.)

Childrearing aside, the past 24 hours or so have been pretty geekerrific for me. Last night the Thursday sitcoms were all reruns so my wife and I briefly resumed The Buffy Project and are now deep enough into the endgame of Season Two that I kind of hope the re-runs continue a bit longer so that we can get all the way to the finale sooner than later. Then this morning I rode the VRE to work and watched yet another episode of Smallville on the portable DVD. And even though it was one of the bottom ten percent of episodes in terms of quality that I can recall out of the hundred-plus I’ve seen of that show, I’m still excited because I’m also getting progressively closer to finishing off that box set with the Season Five finale. (Not entirely sure yet what I’ll start watching on the VRE next, though I think finishing Season One of Supernatural is a good bet.) For the portion of the train ride not occupied by Smallville, I continued reading a paperback I picked up at the used bookstore, a novel which is a licensed tie-in to the MMORPG City of Heroes. So basically it is fanfic for a comicbook-inspired video game, which meant on a certain quantum-deterministic level there was no way for me NOT to acquire and consume it. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at how not terrible it is, though, so that’s a win-win.

Oh, and baseball season started and the Yankees won their opener! Pretty geeked about that, and to have made it through another week. I will try to get back to the regular structure of things round these parts next week, unless of course a baby comes along slightly ahead of schedule and forces me to take a little break.