Tag Archives: fun

No News Isn’t News At All (With Lunch At Jupiter)

My faith in the universe is usually always tested right before everything works out. Either that, or I’m really good at making lemonade from lemons, but only at the last possible instant. I’d been hoping to hear back from a couple of people by now, regarding the gainful employment of yours truly. I mean, it’s not that I’m not proud of what I’ve accomplished with The Vaults of Uncle Walt since it began early December, but no one has come up to me with wads of cash, demanding that I must be paid, either. I suppose I could have ads, but I hate sites with ads, especially if those sites are blogs. I feel that the advertisements demean the flow of thought and distract from the enjoyment of the author’s written word. That being said, it is a source of income that does not necessitate my leaving my apartment. Something is going to happen within a couple of days; I can feel it. Just like the aches and pains flare up in my knees before there is a storm, I can usually sense something coming which will challenge a status quo, and in this case, that almost certainly means a source of income. Have I set myself a challenge? Sure. Is it impossible? Don’t know until I’ve tried. Any regrets? The damnable speed at which I operate, perhaps.

Even now, as I’m calming writing out these words to all of you, my mind is racing, coming alive with possibilities. I find it better not to interrupt myself when I’m travelling at top speed, so I’m going to keep focusing on the task at hand: distracting myself while I try to work out some solution. Tomorrow looks like it will be a busy day for me, with lots of walking and supplication. If I’m lucky, I can find something to pass my waking hours within walking distance of my home. If I’m luckier, it will pay me enough to actually do more that just keep my head above water. The longer I’ve waited to jump back into the fray, the worse my anxiety has gotten. In addition to not knowing which mindless task I might hate the least, I now have to deal with the prospect of acquainting myself with not only new coworkers, but new customers as well. There’s a pizzeria nearby that could seriously use some help. They’re not advertising it, but I’ve tasted what they have to offer. They need someone to overhaul their dough, and their sauce could use some work as well. Maybe I worked my last job for more than just the opportunity to find my future son-in-law.

In other news: Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. I decided that it had been awhile since the Minkey and I had done anything fun outside the house, so we got up at a reasonable hour, got dressed, and headed out to Berkeley to see what free stuff we could wrangle. I’d called up a friend of mine a couple of days before, and made plans to meet up with him as well. I hadn’t seen him since Wildflower and I attended his wedding, and had been unable to actually figure out a time to go hang out with him the entire month of April, so I figured that we could, at least, decimate the local population of birds in just one go. Nick was coming from The City, and didn’t want to wait around in line for hours, and I wanted to be cheap and take two buses instead of shelling out for BART (not to mention that I still wanted at least a little bit of sleep), so figured we would see what the line looked like when managed to get to Berkeley, and go from there. I’m glad we didn’t get there any sooner.

David and I got there a little over half an hour before Nick. At first, the line didn’t look that bad. And then, as we walked toward what we assumed to be its terminus, our hearts began to drop: the line was stretched around the building, and down almost the entire block. It we had come out sooner, we would still probably have had to wait in line. There were people in costumes looking weary, like they’d been there for quite some time. David would never have made it. But it actually worked out. We didn’t have all that long to wait before Nick joined up with us, and once he’d joined our party, time moved a little faster. David, of course, began complaining he was hungry. We finally got inside, grabbed our free stuff, and shuffled out with the little one to go find something to fill his little belly. Of course, being Berkeley on a Saturday, the places which we wanted to patronize weren’t quite open yet. So we bummed around to kill some time until Jupiter finally opened. We bought something to drink, and smoked a cigarette, and tried to leave David wedged inside of Modern Art.

He escaped.
He escaped.

It was then time to go have lunch. I won’t go into too great of detail, except to mention that if you’re in Berkeley, and like good beer and pizza (and the most amazing garlic bread I’ve ever tasted), then make sure you stop in at Jupiter before you leave. That wasn’t a paid advertisement, until the fine folks at Jupiter would like to make it one.

Oh, and the Minkey picked up a new nickname: Derpdevil, The Boy Without Sense. My friend, Fed, has said that my son is either a genius, or its polar opposite, and most everyone else agrees. He’ll spout something so profound that you literally have to stop and process what he’s just said, and then he spazzes out and hits the people sitting behind him with branches which he’s scavenged from the street. And whereas Daredevil has heightened senses to compensate for the one he’s lost, David has all of his intact, and they seem to be having the reverse effect, making him less aware of what’s going on around him.

We paid the bill, and Nick said he was heading back to get a comic signed by Gail Simone. I had wanted her to autograph my Kindle Fire, but I saw the line and just knew it wasn’t worth it. So we said goodbye to Nick, and his friend Oliver (who had joined us at Jupiter for lunch), grabbed a shot with a TIE fighter pilot and Stormtrooper, and then headed home.

The high point of his day.
The high point of his day, despite that look on his face.

We could have taken two buses to get back, but David was bouncing around with an overabundance of energy, so I decided to have us walk almost two and a half miles to burn a little bit of that exuberance away. As any parent reading this will guess, that was a mistake.

He made it almost halfway before deciding that what he’d really like to do would be to stop somewhere and use the facilities. And of course we’d been zig-zagging through the residential zone, so there weren’t any shops around (or decent vegetative cover). With about a mile to go, we finally found a little cafe. The waiter was far nicer than he might have been, and allowed David to run inside to use the restroom, despite the foreknowledge that we would not be paying customers. I’m going to end the story here, because what happened next isn’t for the faint of heart. Suffice it to say, however, I’m seriously considering taking him to some sort of specialist…

Memories of Minkey

He wanted to do this show... Solo!
He wanted to do this show… Solo!


I was going through some of my recordings as I transferred them to my external hard drive, and I came upon this one. I’d completely forgotten that I’d made it. It amazes me to hear him then, and just how little he sounded. To hear him now, you’d think he was practically grown up. We all sounded so happy then. I think I was still working in the Berkeley store, and this would have been right toward the beginning of Flor’s move to working overnight. Time has flown so quickly, and I don’t know where it’s gone. Memories are like that, I suppose…

Included are his observations about Kindergarten, and our attempt to do a decent rendition of “Mortal Kombat.”

This has given me the idea to do a weekly show with the Minkey. It might be kind of fun, and a way to keep up on the page during the weekends, although we should probably look for an endorsement deal from LEGO, as he will most likely only want to talk about whichever LEGO video game he’s currently playing.

I’ll do a test run and we’ll see how it goes. Depending on the results, we might do one Friday night or Sunday afternoon.


Me: So, David, how old are you?

David: Uh…. 5!

Me: And what do you do during the day?

David: Uhhhhh…… play with my LEGOs.

Me: Do you go anywhere?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: Where do you go?

David: Uh, to Grandma’s house.

Me: You go to Grandma’s house? But Grandma lives in Washington.

David: Uh, yeah…

Me: Do you go to school?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What grade are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off)

Me: What class are you in?

David: Uhhhhh………………. (trails off) I don’t know.

Flor: Kindergarten, come on man!

Me: Are you in Kindergarten?

David: Uh, yeah!

Me: What do you learn there?

David: Uh…. I learn Morning Stretches, uh… Calendar, aaaand Workshop, aaand ABC’s, and Recess, and….. E.L.D….

Me: What’s E.L.D.?

David: Uhh… It’s E and L and D.

Me: Yeah, but what does that mean?

David: E! L! D!

Me: Thanks for that-

Flor: (garbled) ABCD…

Me: Thanks- Thanks for that gripping explanation, David. Can you sing the ABC song?

David: ABCD / EFG / HIJK /  LMN / OPQ / RST / UVW / XYZ / Now I never will forget / how to sing the alphabet.

Me: Very good.

(assorted sniffings and groanings)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing about school?

David: Uh… well… (sniffs) well… well… d- well, I think that my class did, was playing with cl- playing with Play-Doh, ’cause that’s what we did today.

Me: Today? But today was Sunday…

David: (sniff, snort) Yeah. I played with it. And I made a statue of Batman.

Me: You made a statue of Batman?

David: Yeah. (squirty booger sound). Like this Batman. Yep. He’s totally dead.

Me: Mmmm….

David: Hey will you stop burning me?!!

Me: How much do you love Mommy?

David: Uhhh….

Flor: Little!

David: This much and this much and one hundredy ninety nine! (snorts, sniffs)

Me: (laughs) Are you- Are you King Mocoso?

David: Uh, yeah. (sniffs) I have a stuffy nose.

Me: Oh… what did you stuff it with?

David: Mocos.

Me: (laughs)

David: (assorted mucous noises, laughter) Oh, that’s a (makes sound again) sound in my nose (continues making noise)

Me: Can you do the Mortal Kombat thing?

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat!

Me: Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

David: Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Finish him!

Me: That was close. Just, you should let me do the Finish him.

David: Okay. Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! Mortal Kombat! (voice cracks)

Me: (laughing so hard I can’t follow). Fi- (laughs) Finish him!

Both: (laugh)

Me: So what’s your favorite thing to do?

David: Uh, my favorite thing is playing with Play-Doh.

Me: In general?

David: Yeah. At school.

Me: But what’s your favorite thing to do at home?

David: Well, playing with LEGOs. Playing with LEGOs and Play-Doh sounds fun. Yeah.

Me: Do you- Can you read some stories?

David: Yeah. One day, there was a little boy, out with his father. And they head for a walk.

Me: Then what happened?

David: And then… the little boy named David saw a big footprint!

Me: (gasps)

David: And it was Monster David!

Me: Oh no. What did they do?

David: Well… the monster caught Mommy. And then, there was a knight in shining armor. And then, I gave the dragon a pepperoni pizza!

Me: (laughs)

David: Yeah, ’cause the dragon think Mommy was food!

Me: (gasps)

David: And then, I gave him the pizza. And then he ate it all up and made some big crumbs. And then, David just saved Mommy and then the Knight David catched Mommy. The end!

Me: That was quite a fascinating story.

David: Thank you!

Me: (laughs) Well, is it time to go beddy-bye?

David: Uhhh… not yet. I still have more stuff. (sniffs) So… Um, Daddy?

Me: Yes?

David: Will you do the title?

Me: What?

David: Will you… ta-

Me: What?

David: Uh… would you do the thing?

Me: What thing?

David: That you tell me to do…

Me: What thing?

David: Aww, Daddy!

Me: (laughs)

David: You’re… You’re supposed… David what’d you do today?

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. You want to try it again?

David: (whispers) Yeah.

Me: Okay. David, what did you do today?

David: Well… there were some… dinosaurs at school, a clock at school, even a toy clock at school. Turn the… the hand around, the gears started spinning! And when I turn it really fast, it goes really fast! And then, I slowed it down, and then… it’s slower, and slooower, and slooower, (sniffs) and slooower, and slooower and slooower. And, the end!

Me: Oh- Say goodnight….

David: Goodbye, night!

A Three Hour Tour

I woke up Friday morning in time to take my son and his friend to school, and got back in a hurry to wait for my nephew to arrive. We’d made a quick trip the night before to the nearest MetroPCS store to pick up a SIM card so he could have a working phone while he was here, but we’d arrived twelve minutes too late. The plan for the day was to head out there when it was open, get him set up, and then head off to San Francisco to see all the sights. It turns out he’s gotten here before we’d left, but saw the door the closed (and detected no signs of life), so he went ahead and took care of the phone issue himself. When he got back to the apartment, it was almost nine, and I was just finishing up the post for the day, as I didn’t know when I’d get another chance to write, and didn’t want to take off that many days. He waited patiently in the living room for the next twenty minutes, watching whatever channel the kids had left it on before we went to school, while I tried to finish up. And then my Comcast service went out. I’d written a bunch since the last time that I’d saved, so I couldn’t even post my blog from the app on my phone. I told him what the situation was, and he’d said that he’d sort of figured something was up when the television screen went dark. I caught a break when service was restored just a couple of minutes later, allowing me to publish what I’d written and turn the laptop off. I’m glad that I’d been mostly done, as within a couple of minutes of having posted it, everything went out once more. I viewed this as a sign that it was time to go, and packed up my backpack with my camera and tour supplies, and we headed out the door, beginning a journey that would take around six miles (9.66 km) to complete.

We braved the AC Transit once again, surviving a half-full bus ride until we got back to El Cerrito del Norte BART. We checked our tickets, and then entered the station and took the escalator up to wait for the next San Francisco train. Fortunately, it was only a few minutes. We filed into the front car, and found our seats, relieved to be off our feet for this part of the journey. Less than an hour later, we made it to the Powell St. station, my old home away from home. We were both a little hungry, so we dropped in on my old coworkers at Blondie’s Pizza to grab something quick to eat. I would have liked to spend more time catching up with everyone, but they were understaffed, and the lunch crowd was beginning to trickle in. I said my goodbyes, and my nephew and I began in earnest our tour of the city. We walked up to Union Square, where I pointed out the painted hearts and all the photographs and paintings on display. Then we hung out in the shade beneath a palm tree to smoke a cigarette and figure out the game plan for the rest of our tourist-type day.

Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.
Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.

At that point, he realized that his phone was acting up, so we decided to kill a couple of birds, and walked to the Westfield San Francisco Centre. On the way, I got a shot of him with a cable car, just before we scrapped entirely the idea of getting out to Pier 39 that way (the line was far longer than my patience).

Not pictured: The line from Hell.
Not pictured: The line from Hell.

Once inside the mall, we meandered up and down the half-dozen or so stories, glancing in at stores and appreciating the architecture. Well, was doing that. Unai was on the phone with MetroPCS, asking why his telephone suddenly had exactly none of the unlimited data which he had bought that morning. Up and down we walked, soaking in the ambiance and fending off customer service. We got to the street level when the service rep finally figured out what was going on. Just a quick reset, and power off for a little bit, and everything should be back to working order. In the meantime, we hit a couple of stores which he wanted to check out, but came away empty-handed when we discovered that the things which he had wanted weren’t all that popular in San Francisco. Shopping done, we started walking down Market toward Embarcadero. My nephew wanted me to show him all the sights, and I knew just where to go for an introductory experience: Fisherman’s Wharf. We had to make a couple of stops, but we finally arrived at the Embarcadero.

Anyone have the time?
Anyone have the time?

It was getting warmer out, and I didn’t want to spook him with how long a walk still lay in front of us, so I just told him to focus on the numbering of the piers, and that when we hit number 39, we’d be where we were going. Of course, what tourist excursion is complete without some photographs? It also helped us to take a pause and find some shade, so stone some birds we did.

I told him this wasn't the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.
I told him this wasn’t the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.

We walked a little more, when I caught sight of something which I’d wanted to point out to him. As we walked around the side of an all-too-familiar building, I pointed out where his aunt and I had spent our third anniversary:

It's that boat in the back.
It’s that boat in the back.

We were getting closer, and started to look for somewhere to duck in from the afternoon heat, and get something to drink, and maybe sit awhile. Although we passed a handful of serviceable cantinas, we decided to keep going until we hit Pier 39. It took longer than I’d remembered, but the numbers kept on climbing, and soon our destination was in sight. We navigated through the throng of people with nothing better to do than spend a Friday afternoon inside a tourist trap, and made our way back to a place I remembered having gone to with Flor and all the kids: Players. We sat down at the bar, thrilled to finally be off our feet, and ordered the most delicious beer which we could think of. A few minutes later, two of these arrived:

Delicious AND Nutritious!

We also ordered basket of garlic fries and some hot wings, and just spent an hour talking about nothing, and enjoying our time together. After we had eaten and settled the tab, we stepped back out into the afternoon to find that there was now a breeze. Our legs were tired, but the walk back wasn’t nearly as bad the one we’d had coming out. I briefly considered taking us back up to Union Square, but one look at the time told me that would be an ill-advised adventure. It was coming up on Commuter Hour, and if we weren’t careful, we’d wind up as sardines in the Rush Hour crowd back home. We entered the Embarcadero BART station, and made our way to the back part of the platform. Looking at my cell phone, I decided that now was as good a time as any to show Unai another survival tip.

We boarded the Dublin train, which was packed to the point of moderate discomfort, and then exited at Lake Merritt to catch a Richmond train in which we might actually find a seat. With that, my training of my nephew was complete, and he told me that he now felt confident to make his way on his own the next time he came to visit. Having finally cooled off from the morning tour, of course car we entered was the one without air conditioning. We broke another sweat, but at least we sat in comfort, our legs no longer required for anything more taxing than a rest upon the edge of the seat. We talked again about how he was liking his visit here, and what he thought of San Francisco. All time leading up to his visit, I had worried that I would be stuck with someone who just didn’t get me, but in my newly met nephew I had not only found a decent man, but someone who I could call a friend. The train pulled into the del Norte station, and we gave thanks to the breeze which flowed over us upon our exit from the sauna car.

This time, when the bus pulled up, Unai knew just what to do, and despite being close to Pope/Volkswagen hour for the buses, we managed to score a couple of seats on this ride as well. We got off at the bus stop, and walked the half mile home, where my wife was waiting for us with dinner and an Advil. All in all, we walked around six miles that day, and though I felt some pain that evening, it was nothing compared to the agony of the following morning.

I’ve decided that I will miss my nephew when he goes, and I cannot wait until the next time, when I get to meet his son.


I just want everyone to realize that this is the first time since January that I have written something on the first day of the month. If you don’t believe me, you can check it out for yourselves. I didn’t really want to break the streak I’d had going since February 1st, but I felt that I should probably write something in honor of April Fool’s Day. I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m getting a divorce, or that my wife is pregnant again, or some combination of the two. Nor am I going to think up all the strange, yet strangely believable nonsense with which I might otherwise have fooled you. So no, I haven’t finished a book, and it hasn’t gotten picked up by a publisher. I haven’t settled on where I want to work in the real world yet, but soon I will have to choose. This week, probably. Sadly, the thing about the man boobs from the other day is still factually correct. No, instead of trying to think up funny tricks to play upon you, I’m going to take some time and actually share what has me kind of pumped.

Next week, one week from today, Flor and I will be going out to celebrate our sixth anniversary. It’s a little late, but there’s finally something happening that I convinced her she might like to do. And what is that thing? We’re going to catch Apocalyptica at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. Wait, I can hear you asking, isn’t your wife a Mexican woman in her late forties? Why would you take her to see Finnish Cello Metal? And those are both questions, though neither one of them is all that good. The answer, however, is that we caught Apocalyptica when they came here on their 7th Symphony tour back… How long ago was that? It feels like it was… maybe four years ago? Five? Anyway, I convinced her to come with me for a night out on the town, and we went to a show together, and wound up with matching hoodies. I just looked it up, by the way. It’s been four and a half years. And the last time we actually did something fun for an anniversary was when we got tickets to the Whiskies Of The World Expo for out third anniversary. Sorry, got off track.

The fact is that I have been trying to figure out how to convince her to go out with me (just like high school- will it never end?!) for quite some time, and when I saw that tickets were still available, I cashed in my points from my Amex card, and snagged us an evening of diversion. Now, the last time that we went to see them, we were both a little younger, and didn’t mind getting back on the last bus of the evening. But this time, Apocalyptica is just a Special Guest, and not the headlining act (Sixx:A.M.), which I really have no desire to stick around to see. That means that we can go out, catch some tunes, and get back in time for bed. I know that’s not really all that metal, but I’m in my mid-thirties now, and I get a little cranky if I don’t get any sleep. That, and my wife will most likely have to start work around, coincidentally enough, 6 o’clock the following morning. None of that matters, though! We’re actually going to go out and have a good time! We’ll have the opportunity to reconnect, and maybe feel the butterflies again. I know that we both became a little weak in the knees when they were holding their cellos above their heads with one hand and bowing stuff of Kill ‘Em All with the other. I mean, I’m not into dudes, but that was kind of sexy. Just sayin’.

Actually, the only thing that has me a little bummed is that they have a full-time singer now, and it’s not the dude they had with them on their last tour: Tipe Johnson, former singer of the Leningrad Cowboys. That Robert Plant-looking dude could really wail, and I just hope that their new guy can handle all the styles of their previous guest vocalists with as much ease as Mr. Johnson. Actually, I hope that they play mostly instrumentals, but that’s just me. Actually, I hope they play a handful of their hits, and then they just throw down Metallica covers for the rest of the show. I would kill to hear what they would do with Orion. They’ve never done a studio cover of it, and I think if anyone could do it justice, it would be those guys.

All this means, of course, that I will be listening to their discography all week, immersing myself the best of their stuff, and trying to will away the aches and pains so that I might be ready for a mosh pit, should one suddenly appear around me. I doubt it will, though. Last time the vibe was more of a show I remember being put on at my middle school, when the administration was constantly admonishing that there was to be “no moshing” and “no headbanging.” Come to think about it, I think that was the first night that I ever checked out the Teen Center. Weird. Somehow I’ve managed to tie up all the themes I ran with in March over the course of a couple of paragraphs. And just to be clear, Apocalyptica did not play at the Old Commode. And there was decent audience reaction when the Finns took the stage. But after a particularly awful set by Dir En Grey (who should have immediately fired their sound guy for gross negligence, and then hauled him away to face multiple criminal charges of assault by way of godawful mixing- I mean, it was like we were getting stabbed in the ear by rabid, shrieking monkeys), we were all still trying to recover. But I still managed to make a Metal Face. And what a face it was.

That's my Metal Face!
That’s my Metal Face!

Anyway, I’m stoked that we are going, and next Thursday, I’ll have a write-up of the show!

Enjoy your April!