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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bah Chumbug!

Is it possible that I’m the only J-blogger who hasn’t written a post about Channuka? That’s hard to believe. Why haven’t I written something about it? There must be some good reasons.

4. I’m too busy. That’s a good reason. Although I’m busy all the time. I’m not too busy to write this, right?

3. I have nothing interesting to say. That may be true, but it’s never stopped me before. It might be more accurate to say that I have nothing to add to what’s already been said out there.

2. I’m sick of the “War on Christmas.” Well, yeah, there is that. It’s everywhere. No need to for me weigh in on this one. Although I have no problem with the Christmas issue. I understand the point. I wouldn’t want someone telling me I have to call my Menorah a “Holiday Candelabra.” I mean, why would you call it a “Holiday Tree?” What other holiday is it for? Arbor Day? And in my practice, I end up saying “Merry Christmas” a heck of a lot more often than “Happy Channuka.” No I don’t feel threatened by Christmas (despite last year’s tirade). As a practicing Orthodox Jew, I’m very secure in my Judaism. Personally, I don’t think of Channuka as something tacked on to Christmas. Channuka came first. If anything, I think the Christians tacked their holiday on to Channuka. If I’m upset about anything related to the “WOC”, it’s that Channuka is being equated to Kwanzaa.

1. So, the real reason I didn’t write about Channuka this year: I hate repeating myself. I realize that blogs are supposed to be timely. We write about things that go on as time goes by, and people check in to see “what’s new,” so there’s an expectation that we are going to write about things that occur during the Calendar. Like Toikey Day or Yom Kippur. So all the bloggers are writing about Christmas or Channuka or Kwanzaa or Boxing Day. But I HATE TO REPEAT MYSELF. I’m on my second annual blogging cycle right now, and that means that I’m on my second cycle of writing about all the holidays I wrote about last year. And it’s pretty clear to me now that I have NOTHING NEW OR OF ANY VALUE TO SAY ON THESE SUBJECTS.

So I think I’ll stop typing right about…..now

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Cro Magnon Movie Review

King Kong

Cro Magnon Man drag female by hair last night to see Peter Jackson version “King Kong.”

Cro Magnon need to set record straight: Cro Magnon LIKE De Lorentiis ’76 version with Jessica Lange. Jessica Lange…grrrrrl grrrroowwwwlllllll……. Cro Magnon think that version right for times. So what King Kong only Homo Sapien in suit? Look good on big screen. And Cro Magnon feel nostalgia for World Trade Center. Snif.

But now have new version from Oscar-Winning Director Jackson, so must see. Female not want to go. She want play X-Men on Playstation 2. Hah! How that for turning tables! Now it Cro Magnon turn to give FEMALE guilt trip! “Female only want to play video games. Never go out with Cro Magnon! Female care more about Wolverine than Cro Magnon!” So, Female come to Multiplex.

Arrrrr!!!!! How they charge $8.50 for movie ticket?! No time to rant. Need get to seat so not miss Coming Attractions. Female already upset we there too early. Female HATE coming attractions! Why need to rush Female to get to movie on time, when have to sit through 20 minutes commercials?! Bah!!

Cro Magnon pay no heed. Cro Magnon LIKE Coming Attractions. Usually much better than movie! Cro Magnon look for good seats. Ha! There good seat in first row! What?? Female not want sit there? Move up to MIDDLE???!!! ROOOAAAARRRRRR!!!!! What point of THAT???? Cro Magnon can watch small picture in own CAVE!! Not go to movies to sit in BACK!!

FINE!! Cro Magnon not stranger to compromise. Understand Male/Female relationship about give and take. Also understand it important Female think she take more than give. Cro Magnon reluctantly move to middle. At least not have neck ache.

Ahhhhhh….finally movie start! Movie LOOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG….. What deal with every movie more than 3 hour now? What director think DVD for? Cro Magnon want tell Peter Jackson he need do better job EDITING. Even Cro Magnon know that. Cro Magnon think many scenes better for ‘deleted scenes gallery’ or ‘extended director’s cut’ version. Not needed in Theatrical Version. Cro Magnon not have attention span issues, but Cro Magnon have MAJOR BLADDER issues and at end of movie feel he will explode. Cro Magnon think whole subplot with “Heart of Darkness” not add to film. Also think a few battles on Skull Island not necessary. Female agree she live long and happy life without seeing giant bug battle. Cro Magnon happy to watch that in cave on DVD with cave children.

Cro Magnon think cast wonderful. Cro Magnon big fan of Jack Black. Cannot say enough about Jack Black. But Cro Magnon not able to take Jack Black seriously. Even when have serious or terrified expression on face, Cro Magnon still think Jack Black making big joke. Or about to start song. Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody add touch of class to film and Cro Magnon and Female enjoy watching them.

Which bring to Kong. Kong very well made. Look natural. Not suffer from rubbery or overfluid movement of typical digital character (wave at Jar Jar). Kong remind Cro Magnon of fellow co-worker in rock quarry. Also have thing for skinny blondes.

Cro Magnon enjoy sets depicting old New York. Empire State Building look spectacular. Especially appreciate homage to original film in scene with final bi-plane battle. Many shots copied. MMMM….feel good to see again. But Cro Magnon disappointed that much of Skull Island look fake. Big overhead view of Islander city remind Cro Magnon too much of Lord of Rings city flyovers. Expect to see Orcs on walls. Not look bad, but look much like model with CGI characters painted in. Take Cro Magnon out of illusion of reality. Cro Magnon think ’76 film do Skull Island better. Also, early dinosaurs not look so good. Apatosauri look rubbery and fake, particularly when puny Homo Sapiens running between feet. Take it from Cro Magnon, he know what it like to run from Dinosaur! But T-Rex battles done well.

So overall, Cro Magnon and Female like movie, but feel too long and over reliance on digital characters take away from immersion.

Final score: 3 grunts.

Merry Anniversary

"Don't go to Chicago."

Four words.

Four words my father said to me. Four words that could have changed my life, had I listened to them. But of course, I did not. Why not? Because when you're 19 and someone offers to fly your band across country to play for a youth convention, you ignore your Old Man's advice and you go.

His reasoning had absolutely nothing to do with the outcome of the trip. He told me not to go because it was cold in Chicago. No arguing with that. It was -17 degrees when I got off the plane at O'Hare. -17? I had never experienced cold like that. We musicians were dressed for New York cold, not Chicago cold. We shivered in the overstuffed cars all the way to Lake Geneva.

So he was right about the cold. But I went to the Midwest to play music. What neither he nor I expected was that I would come back with a wife.

Well, maybe it wasn't quite that dramatic. The convoy of cars drove from Chicago's O'Hare Airport for a little over an hour in the freezing dark of night until we pulled up in front of the Americana Club in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. We shlepped our bags, amps and instruments into the convention center. I looked at my bass speaker. It was demolished. It looked as if one of the baggage handlers had taken a real dislike to it. And maybe he and a few of his friends had jumped up and down on the speaker. A few. Dozen. Times. This was bad. Because I had talked some very reluctant YU guy into lending it to me for the trip.

I think I had a very pathetic look on my face when the director of event introduced me to my...crew. Actually, I'm not sure what I was supposed to call them. I never had a crew before. But it was a pair of young women who were supposed to be responsible for the band. Get us tea. Keep us from kvetching. Make sure we showed up to play. I don't want to cast aspersions any prior musicians, but apparently, the previous band had required quite a bit of TLC.

Back to sad little me trying to figure out how I was a) going to play without a bass speaker and b) explain to the guy back home that I ruined his cabinet. I was pretty sad-looking when they introduced me to this thin little waif of a girl with the biggest bluest eyes I had ever seen and told me she was responsible for keeping me happy. That took me by surprise. None of the band knew how to react. Normal people would have probably introduced themselves and thanked them for their offer of help.

We instead decided to pretend we were from England. Well, if they were going to go to the trouble of treating us like rock stars, we might as well act like rock stars! We put on our best Spinal Tap accents and promptly began acting like a bunch of immature putzes. At some point during the weekend, our accents ran out. Despite this, our 'crew' continued to do their jobs and pay attention to us.

I wasn't sure what to make of the blue-eyed one. She seemed refined and somewhat delicate. But as soon as she opened her mouth, you could tell who was in charge. She was telling everyone what to do. The regional director. The head adviser. The technical director. My guitar player. But that wasn't the surprising part. The surprising part was that everyone listened! I don't think that convention could have run without her.

So we musicians did our jobs too. I plugged my bass into the keyboard amp and it worked. And the band roomed together and we made comments about each other's hygeine. And we talked to the kids and told them how cool it was to be in an Orthodox Jewish Rock Band.

And I still had time to hang out with Blue-eyes. We talked about almost everything. We shot some pool. She brought us tea. But to be honest, as a musician, I was used to attention from girls. Strap a guitar to the dorkiest guy and he still becomes a chick magnet. There was something else about this one. I was impressed by her competence. And her sincerity. And her sense of humor. And the blue eyes. But I think there was one other thing that sealed the deal for me, and this is the first time I'm putting it together.
It was a long, five day event. We were staying up playing and having sessions and singing until the early hours of the morning. And one of the staff got sick. No big deal. She was just puking all over the place and stuck in bed. I think this was the night of the big banquet, and everyone was dressed up all fancy. Most people were content to send her to her room and leave her there. But Blue-eyes went to her room and took care of her. Brought her water, cool compresses, held her hand. I can't tell you how impressed I was. When the band was back on the plane headed to New York, I turned to one of my mates and said, "I'm going to marry that girl."

I'll never forget the date I first saw her. December 25, 1985.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Psychotoddler and Bean part 15: The Pictures

Parts 1-14 are organized nicely here by Doctor Bean.

The PT is not too happy to see us leaving at 6am.

The Frozen tarmack at Mitchell Field.

Dining with bloggers: L-R:
Mrs. Balabusta, Ball-and-Chain, Sophia, Anne of Inland Empress, Baby Lael (under the table), Brett of Dadtalk, Neil of Citizen of the Month, Doctor Bean. Not pictured: Psychotoddler (taking the picture)

You know how much I love sushi. But what you don't know is that I have no idea how to eat sushi. Especially with chopsticks.

The "after" picture.

Just keep swimming just keep swimming swimming swimming what do we do we swim....I tried 3 times to get a good picture of this Dori fish. My camera sucks.

The obligatory picture of the out-of-towner traveling down Doheny Drive. Crap! A bus!

Me and Russell Crowe run into Homestar Runner. Hilarity ensues.

Doctor Bean and Ball-in-Chain run into King Kong. Hilarity ensues.

It was a rough flight over...

Is it really that simple?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Looking for Mr. Goodstein

It is an age-old question with which doctors have wrestled for generations. Perhaps as old as the practice of Medicine itself:

What to do if the patient you are visiting is not in his room? Does Muhammad go to the Mountain? Or does Muhammad wait for the Mountain to get wheeled back up from radiology?

Such was the dilemma that Doctor Bean and I faced when he somehow talked me into making rounds with him at General Hospital on Sunday.

Doctor Bean was a disciple of the school of thought that said, "Oh well. We'll come back later."

But me? I learned from the school of hard knocks. Knock hard on the door. No answer? Knock harder. We didn't 'come back later' in The South Bronx. No sir. Coming back later could get you killed! Would you cross town through a volley of gunfire just because a patient was off somewhere getting a barium enema? Of course not. So I was determined to show him how we did things where I came from.

"No, seriously PT, we'll come back later."

"What are you, a sissy, Doctor?"


"We're gonna find that patient, and we're gonna examine him, and then by golly we're gonna bill him! Is that clear?"

"It's really no big deal--"


"--I live 5 minutes from here..."

"Get to the nursing station and find out where that AWOL patient is!!"

We soon found out that Mr. Goodstein, 87 years old with a bad hip and a badder ticker, was down in XRAY getting his pelvis irradiated.

"OK Bean. Let's ride."

"But I don't know where Radiology is. I've never even been down there."

"You call yourself an Attending Physician? You're the sorriest excuse for a doctor I've ever seen. Now get to that stairwell and give me 20..steps!"

"Actually, it would be better if we took the elevator."

And so we did. As we rode down that metal chariot to the unknown hell that lay beneath us, Doctor Bean took those last few moments of sanctuary to go over information about the patient. Information, that might prove vital to the very survival of our missing man.

We exited the elevator and soon approached the gateway to the unknown.

"I really don't know where this goes."

"No time for cowardice now, Bean. There's no turning back."

"Why not? We can still come back lat--"

"NO GUTS NO GLORY, BEANHEAD!! Now get through those doors or I'll fill you with gastrograffin!"

Reluctantly, Doctor Bean pushed forwards. And then to the right. And then to the right again. And twice to the left. A door was open. We peered inside.

Nothing. Nothing but the empty shell of a once vital and operating CT scanner.

"I don't know what kind of Armageddon happened down here, Bean, but WE'LL FIND YOUR MAN!"

"Really, I don't know where they do the hip XRAYs."

"We'll search this labyrinth room by room if necessary!"

"But that could take hours!"

"Then we'd better get started."

"But our wives, they're waiting for us and they'll get mad if we're late!"


"Uhh...yeah....um...right. Good thinking.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I like-a to say, "Holy Cr-p!"

Sweet Smokin' Jes--!

Somebody nominated me for a JIB award for best humor blog!

Git yer butts over there and vote!

Psychotoddler and Bean, PT 1

Hmm...Sounds like the name of a shlocky '70s detective show set in Los Angeles. Oddly appropriate.

Mrs. Balabusta was kind enough to start the chronicle for me. All I have to add to that is that it is very clear to me that Gd Himself chased us out of Milwaukee. A snow storm! Single-digit temperatures for a week! ANOTHER snow storm! It wasn't quite the Amityville Horror "GEETTT OUUUTTTTT" but it was pretty darn close.

After we touched down in LA, we made our way towards the baggage claim area. As we walked, I made up with my wife that she would do a funny accent, since Doctor Bean had spoken to me on the phone (once!), but had never heard her speak. So she tried on her Milwaukee accent:

"Ohhh yaaaa, it's kinda warm here, doncha know!"

"That's a little thick I think. You sound Jamaican. Try more subtle."

"How's dis, ehna?"

"Nope. Now it's gone. Forget it."

So we gave up on that plan and just used our regular voices. Dr. Bean was easy to spot since he does bear more than a passing resemblance to that picture of Rowan Atkinson that he uses (but he's much better looking). Not that Rowan Atkinson is a slouch. He's attractive in that I'm an odd-looking Englishman sort of way. But I'm way off topic now).

I had thought of course that it would be incredibly awkward meeting him for the first time. We'd been chatting and exchanging emails and comments for months. So, he wasn't exactly a stranger. We actually knew quite a bit about each other. But, I mean, we were meeting for the first time!


But it wasn't weird. It felt more like I was seeing an old college buddy for the first time in years, but unlike my actual college buddies, this was one that I was keeping in touch with regularly.

I don't know how else to describe it. We instantly fell into the same quips and traded one-liners that regular readers of this blog have become accustomed to. It was as if we had been friends for years.

After a few completely unintelligible loudspeaker comments (which were bizarrely coming from a woman not 5 feet away but which still sounded like someone announcing stops on the 6 train), we had our luggage and were off to the Beanmobile.

Doctor Bean was busy showing us the sites of first, LAX ("Hey Bean, is there some reason why they surrounded the airport with sculptures that look like smoke stacks?"),

then Hollywood.

Despite giving up on our plan to do fake accents, it wasn't long before Bean asked Mrs B. where her charming accent came from.

Eventually we made our way to the Bean Estate. I won't describe it too much, so as not to give away too many clues towards the Beans' secret identities, but the place is gorgeous. Meticulously clean, perfectly decorated. I'm having serious thoughts about retracting my invitation to him and Ball-and-Chain to visit the PT hovel in Milwaukee.

In fact as soon as we entered their state-of-the-art kitchen, Mrs. Balabusta started hitting me over the head with her purse.


I of course took some pictures, but in the interest of sparing any other underachieving male spouses out there a similar beating, I will refrain from publishing them.

Now, it goes without saying that the credit for the perfectly arranged house, which seems lifted directly from the pages of Fancy Shmancy Interior Designs that will Never Look as Good in Your House Magazine, goes not to Doctor Bean, but to the lovely Ball-and-Chain, who is every bit as beautiful and welcoming as Doctor Bean always says she is. Once again, here was a woman whom we were literally seeing for the first time, but felt totally at ease with.

We felt like we had come home.

Except to a really really reeaaalllyy nice and clean home.

How could four small children possibly be living here? It turns out that they were, for we were soon introduced to them. We quickly spotted similarities to our own horde. There's one that sounds a lot like Iguana and one that is destined to become the next Psychotoddler. The dynamics between the kids are slightly different than with our own, only because the Beans started a little later and did a better job with...uh, spacing. Like I said, we felt very much at home.

Ball-and-Chain and Dr. Bean share a quiet moment reading together shortly after our arrival

Soon it was time to prepare for Shabbos. I mean, Shabbat.

Monday, December 12, 2005

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover...

"...but there are only 8 ways to exit this aircraft," said the flight attendant. Yes, in Hollywood, even the stewardesses are in Show Business. Which means that I'm officially back in the land of the ice and snow.

Stories and pictures to follow.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Greetings, Earthlings

Just a quick update from LALA land:

I don't have time to do our visit justice; expect a more detailed blow-by-blow in the weeks to come. I just want to say that so far the trip is wonderful. The blogger dinner last night exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I'm generally an introverted wallflower in group settings. Last night I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I could have talked to these people all night long.

The Beans have been magnificent hosts. The kids are adorable, the food delicious, the house is meticul--


Stop that!

Why are you doing that?

Don't be ridiculous!

No, nobody is going to decend on you like locusts!

That's nuts! Nobody knows where you live!

Oh, fine.

Uh, folks, uh...scratch those last few lines. The Beans have been feeding us dog food and making us sleep in a damp garage.

Anyway, just wanted to put down a quick thought before it eludes me. It was great meeting all the bloggers yesterday. But I have discovered one thing about the blogosphere. It's not the same as real life. Virtual friends have different properties than actual friends. For example, if a bunch of people talk to each other daily, and all seem to congregate in the same place, you assume a certain common network of relationships exists. You know all the same people.

It often seems that way on the internet, but in fact it's not true. So just because Brett, and Inland Empress, and Citizen of the Month (and Sophia), and Doctor Bean, and Ball-and-Chain, and Mrs. Balabusta all interact in some way or another with regularity at Chez Psychotoddler, we are not, in fact, a virtual rat pack moving from blog to blog and reading the same things at the same time.

So it was a little disconcerting to bring up say, DovBear, or Luke Ford, or Treppenwitz, or Ezzie, or Toronto Pearl, and assume that these guys and gals knew these people and blogs as well as myself, only to find that they didn't know to whom or what I was referring. Yes, they all know me, and yes, the blogosphere is a web of links and references and commenters, but no, we're not all moving around as a group.

Except for Jack. I'm pretty sure he's following me.

See y'all next week.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Goodbye Milwaukee...

My New Best Friend

It is ffffffreeeeezzzzing out here in the Midwest. And it's so cold and dry outside that my fingers are starting to split open by the nails. And it's worse because I am washing my hands all day long and they are getting dish-panned. So I have these incredibly painful, paper-cut like splits on the tips of my fingers, y'know, where all the nerve endings are.

But all is not lost, because I discovered the best way to treat this crippling affliction: Krazy Glue. Bonds in seconds with amazing strength without clamps, mixing or mess. If it can suspend a fat guy by his hat from a steel girder hundreds of feet above the ground, surely it can seal my wittle fingers back together.

I just put a little drop into the groove where the split is, and smoosh it together for a few seconds. Kids, don't try this at home. I'm a trained professional. Ahhhh....that's better. Back to typing!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What's on Your iPod...

...Nothing. I don't own an iPod. Now hold on, I have nothing against you young'uns and your 'newfangled' technology. Psychotoddler was once quite the 'early adopter.' But I just don't have the need for one. I know what you're saying:

"How the heck does he know what we're saying?"

"Quiet, that's not what he was going to say we were saying!"

"Well I bet he didn't know we were going to say

"Don't mind him, PT, go on and tell us what we were saying."

Er...well what I thought you would be saying is, "Come on, PT, you're a musician! How can you not have the latest, hottest music technology?"

Because personally, I think MP3s, while very convenient, are a step in the wrong direction as far as music goes. And I'm not talking about piracy. I'm talking about fidelity. MP3s just don't sound as good as CDs. They are getting better, to be sure, but if you listen to a WAV file of a song, and then go and listen to the MP3, you can hear an enormous difference. The MP3 is thin, distorted, full of drop-outs, and shallow. (No jokes about LA please). To me it's like a bad cassette dupe of a great vinyl album. And if you put all that effort, as a musician, into crafting a great sounding song, it's as shame to hear it squished down into an acoustic sardine can.

Which is not to say that I don't listen to MP3s anyway. I was ripping songs to MP3s from the very beginning. Mostly my own, of course. I found it to be the easiest way to post my band's music on the net. And over the years I've re-ripped songs as better compression engines have come out.

But I have no need for a personal MP3 player for one reason: I don't walk around listening to music on headphones. I listen almost exclusively in my car. And I don't have a radio in my car that can accept an auxiliary jack from an MP3 player. And even if I did, I don't think I want to carry one around with me, and I definitely don't want to leave it in my car.

So I'ma wait until a cheap radio with a built-in hard drive comes out, so I can just load my favorite songs into the car and leave them there. Maybe with 'wireless technology.' That would be cool. Y'know, to like, load my music from my home network to my car from the warmth of my own dungeon. Mmm...warm dungeon....

Well, until then, I'll settle with what I've got. Which is a car CD player that can play MP3 cds. I can fit about 200 songs on each disk, between 10-15 albums. I have one with the entire Led Zeppelin collection. Mmmm....Led Zeppelin... They have like, a jillion songs, and no two are alike. Not even the blues!

So, anyway, Ezzie, the fine product of Yeshiva Higher Education that he is, tagged me to the iPod meme. And I reminded him that I already did the "what's in my car CD" thing before people were tagging other people for memes. But those CDs all got stolen when my car was broken into. Hence the MP3 CD player. So here's a sampling of what I'm listening to now:

Franz Ferdinand: All for you Sophia
The Sparklifters
Matisyahu: Live at Stubb's
Pey Dalid
Rush: La Villa Strangiata
Steely Dan: Hey 19
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Universally Speaking,Parallel Universe
Foreigner: Dirty White Boy
The Cure: Lovecats
Piamenta Live: Od Yishama (awesome song)
Skier Songs: I made a disk with all my Kabblah, Tohu Vavohu, and Moshe Skier Band stuff, live stuff, studio, rehearsals, etc.
Squeeze: Cool for Cats
Garbage: Breaking up the Girl
Yes: Starship Trooper
Blondie: Heart of Glass
Wings: Uncle Albert
Elvis Costello: The Angels want to wear my Red Shoes
Pink Floyd: Money
Supertramp: The Logical Song

I'm Reclaiming that Quote

It's interesting that despite having a fairly open-ended blog, I often end up getting into long personal back-and-forth email sessions with other bloggers about the subjects of posts or comments I leave.

And is often the case, these interesting emails lead to a crystalization of the idea that I may have crudely described in my original post. So too is a recent correspondence between myself and Toronto Pearl regarding my California trip. It's only fair that she be involved in this mess, because I now think that it was her trip to LA earlier this year that planted the seed for my upcoming adventure.

So my reasoning led me here.

Beware the Thought Police

Marquette suspends dental student for blog comments

Take home message: Don't blog about work or school.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Snow Sorry

I'd like to apologize to the people who showed up at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Melaveh Malka last night for the non-appearance of 2/3 of my band. (I should also apologize to the 1/3 of my band who packed up his stuff, drove down to Chicago, unpacked and set up his drums before I could contact him to let him know I wouldn't make it).

In all the hundreds of gigs I've played, I can't think of more than one or two that I had to cancel. And one was due to an assassination, definitely not under my control. Anyway, I am bummed that I couldn't get to Chi-town for this gig. But it wasn't for lack of trying.

I learned something about myself last night. I don't deal well with change. If I make a plan, I stick with it, regardless of how facts on the ground (or in the air) may change. Very rigid thinker, I am. And I don't take hints well.

It started off well enough yesterday. When I came home from shul in the morning, the weather was clear. By the time I went down for my Shabbos afternoon shluffy, a few flakes were falling. When I woke up for mincha, the ground was covered with snow, and it was still coming down heavily. And by havdalah time, there were a few inches on the ground.

After Shabbos, I went upstairs to print off a set list. My wife asked if I had checked with the National Weather Service. I said no, I could tell it was snowing. She said I should cancel the gig. It looked too dangerous on the roads. I said, this is Wisconsin. We don't cancel gigs for snow.

Then I called my guitarist, Mendel, to see if he was ready to be picked up. His wife also had reservations, and his father had apparently called and advised us to stay home. Nonsense, I said. Snow shmow. I'm a good driver (said Speed Racer). Besides, the streets may look bad, but the highways are usually OK. And I had already called someone in Chicago, who said the roads were fine there.

I should have seen it as a sign that, between the time I pulled up to Mendel's house and the time I actually drove off, I had to take out my snow brush and clear off the windows a few times. We pulled out and headed towards the highway. The streets were sloppy, but drivable.

Highway 41 was a sheet of white. No lanes. Not many cars either, which was OK, since I didn't feel comfortable going more than 25 MPH. Unfortunately, there were some SUVs who felt perfectly fine going 50, and they were scaring the cwap out of me. The merge onto 94 was another story. It was bumper to bumper all the way downtown. I was OK with that, because it meant nobody would be roaring past me.

As we inched our way towards the Marquette Interchange, I noticed that my car, driving as it was through the thick treads left by the SUV in front of me, wasn't always moving in the direction I wanted. Sometimes it was veering towards the median. I moved to a middle lane.

We eventually made it past the interchange and onto the main highway going South to Chicago. I should tell non-Midwesterners that it is typically a 70-80 minute drive from Milwaukee to Chicago. Give or take for traffic. We were already close to an hour into the drive, and had not left the city limits yet. Eventually, I passed a car which had done a 180 and smashed into the median. This, I mused, was the source of the traffic. And sure enough, after this car, the traffic became much lighter.

That was not a good development. Because at that point, cars, trucks and SUVs started moving a lot faster. And I still had very poor traction on my Geo. I started to wonder when it was that I had last replaced my tires. Or rotated them. Well, scratch that, I never rotate my tires. As long as the car is going straight, and not stopping suddenly, I have some control over it, I thought. Meanwhile, the highway ahead was still pure white, with no visible lanes, and snow was coming down heavily, but not heavily enough that it kept my windshield wipers from making that awful scraping sound every few wipes.

"You know," I said to Mendel, "It's at times like this when I'm inching along on a snow-covered highway during a blizzard, in a car filled with expensive guitars and no traction, that I really wished I'd listened to what my mother had told me when I was younger."

"What did she tell you?"

"I don't know. I didn't listen!"

Anyway, I thought, OK, I'll just keep going straight to Chicago. It's got to be better down there. That thought comforted me for about 5 minutes. That's when I noticed, in the lane to the right of mine, about 3 cars up, a pickup truck. The truck started to fishtail wildly, swerving from side to side in ever-increasing radii until it finally lost control, turned a full 90 degrees to the left, and drove straight across my lane, impacting with median. Then a car in front of me hit the truck.

I let out a brief, but calm, obscenity, and, with my video game-enhanced reflexes, veered the car to the right and narrowly avoided becoming part of the pile-up.

For a brief moment, after this, I looked at the highway ahead, which was completely clear of cars at this point, and though, "What the heck, how much worse can it get?"

That's when Mendel snapped me out of it. "This is nuts. We have kids. We need to turn around." And he was right, of course. So we got off the highway and made a slow journey back home.

I feel terrible about standing up all the great people who came out on a cold Saturday night to hear us play. But at least we lived to play another day.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Out of Context Lines I Heard Tonight

Iguana: You can afford to be a little smarter...


Fudge: I'll tell you all a secret: When you clap your hands, Weed appears!

BTW if you missed Fudge's Radio show, it sounded an awful lot like this.

California Here I Come

Today I reminded my partner that he had promised to cover me next week while I am away in California.

"Oh yeah, right. Why are you going to California again? Do you have some family there?"

And it was at that point where I remembered that I had forgotten to come up with a good reason for the trip. Because the real reason probably wouldn't sound too good.

"Oh, I met this guy on the internet..."


"And, um, so my wife and I are going out there to meet him and his family."

"I see. So you're meeting guys on the internet now?"

"Well it's not quite like that." NO WAY am I going to start telling him about the blog.

"What's his name?"

"Oh, his name? Er...Doctor Bean..."

"Did you say Doctor BEAN?!?"

"Well no, that's not his real name..."

"Do you mean to tell me that you're flying 2000 miles to see some strange guy you met on the internet and YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HIS REAL NAME??"

Boy this was getting harder and harder to explain..."Well, sure I know his name. I mean, we chat almost every day..." That's it, tell him that you talk to this guy more than people you actually know.

"So you're chatting with a strange guy named 'Doctor Bean', and now you're going to meet him in California."

"Well, when you put it that way, it does sound a little creepy."

"Hey dude, whatever floats your goat."

I was really scrambling here. How do I explain to a non-blogger what the blogosphere is like? Do I even want to? Can I explain that, through the magic of the J-Blogging community, I found a guy that I enjoy talking to on a daily basis about Judaism, Medicine, family, and Battlestar Galactica?

"OK, you got me. Actually I'm going out to Los Angeles because I'm thinking about relocating my practice there."

Maniacal laughter.

"Good one. I liked your first story better."


Y'know, it's a little odd. I got into blogging because there were things that I couldn't discuss with the people around me, but that I could discuss in the blogosphere. And now it seems, now that blogging itself has become something important to me, I find that I have one more thing that I can't discuss with those around me. And so I do crave the company of other bloggers, if for no other reason than just to relax and discuss our wonderful new community.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cro Magnon Man


Cro Magnon Man tired. Not get good sleep. Maybe need more rocks in pillow. Oh well. Time get dressed.


Where all Cro Magnon's undershirts?! Only one left, with holes! Cro Magnon think teenage sons took shirts! What boys do with Cro Magnon underwear? Make tent?


Sometimes, Cro Magnon think Dinosaur neighbor have right idea. Eat them when still young. And why Cro Magnon have only one sock? Cro Magnon walk erect on two feet! Send two socks down laundry chute. Why only one come back??

Growwwwllll.....Time to drag knuckles down stairs and make sandwich for lunch.


What happen to tuna salad Cro Magnon make last night??? Young cave kids eating all Cro Magnon food!! Now Cro Magnon have to take club and smash open can of tuna and mix with mayonaisse...

But then Cro Magnon get vegetable oil all over fingers. Hard to wash off. Then have "fishy" smell all day.

Maybe Cro Magnon eat Kit Kat for lunch.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Music Stuff

The next gig for the band is at the Young Israel of West Rogers Park Melaveh Malkah, this coming Saturday Night.

If for some reason you can't be there, please enjoy the videos of the last Shlock Rock show, now posted here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What Happens in the Blogosphere Stays in the Blogosphere

I'm going to apologize in advance to the 99.9% of my readers who will have absolutely no idea what I am writing about.

Almost a year ago, I wrote this post. The need to write it came from a few episodes where people I knew found my blog, or a post or two, and took something I wrote out of context, and got in a huff about it. I'm sure all of you know this, but things that are written on blogs tend to get very high search engine rankings. That's because blogs are updated frequently. So it's not uncommon for someone to google the name of their 3rd grade teacher and suddenly find the one time that you mentioned her name in the 400 posts that you wrote. The time that you wrote that she was boring and wore a funny-looking wig.

Now, the point of your blog is obviously not to make fun of this teacher. You didn't create an entire internet site and post on a daily basis and read and respond to comments for a year for the sole purpose of insulting Mrs. Fishface. In fact, your blog is mostly about something completely different, like your digestive problems and the humorous situations you find yourself in when you pass gas and try to pretend your co-worker did it. But it just so happened that one morning in early 2005 you woke up after a truly bizarre dream in which Mrs. Fishface was trying turn you into a strawberry blancmange by reading to you from her Russian-language version of War and Peace. And in a sudden burst of inspiration, you decided to type the whole thing up as an incredibly amusing blog post, to the accolades of the 8 or so people who were reading it at the time.

And you didn't give it a second thought until you got that nasty email from Mrs. Fishface's grandson, who had your post forwarded to him by the compulsive googler, and who thinks on the whole you are a repugnant turd for making fun of his (now deceased) beloved grandmother. And that threw you so completely that in a fit of misplaced remorse you deleted the entire blog (which by the way is still stored in Google's cache) and unplugged the computer.

So I'm here to tell you that it's not your fault. You didn't plan to write something bad about an old lady with a cheap wig and then send it to her grandson for laughs. You planned to write something funny about an old lady with a cheap wig and tell it to 7 or 8 total strangers of your closest virtual friends for laughs. Because you think your blog is your personal little site. And that only your friends would bother to read it. And that the chances of anyone in this huge world who knows either you or anyone you mention on your little blog actually stumbling randomly across this site and finding what you wrote are so remote that you feel totally free to be at ease and write whatever you want.

OK so it's a little your fault. Because you were naive about the nature of the internet and Google. So this has been a little lesson for you. And now you know that people are eavesdropping on your little non-private chats with your virtual friends. And you're starting to wonder who else is out there reading you. And what they are telling people about you. And maybe you're thinking that you will restart your blog, but you'll be totally anonymous this time. And you won't talk about real people or real situations. Or real issues. And that would be a shame. Because your blog is about to become extremely boring. And if that's the case, don't bother restarting.

I think you should take a good look at that lurker who nabbed your funny post and had the poor judgment to send it to that grief-stricken grandson. Because when you wrote your post, you just wanted to share a funny story with some friends. But I wonder what his purpose was?

Happy Thanksgiving

I wrote about Toikey Day last year. My opinion hasn't changed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Righteous Gentile

I received an email from my cousin in Israel today. She was glad to inform me that Mrs. Stanislawa Cicha, the Polish woman who had saved both our mothers' lives, will be recognized as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

It's unbelievable how much courage this woman had. In a world where even the accusation of hiding Jews could be a death sentence, she went out and found food for over a dozen people on a daily basis for over a year. I wonder how many of us would do that?

If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be here.

In related news, apparently the Museum in Jaworzno, Poland, has an exhibit about the Jews of Jaworzno (they were wiped out during the Holocaust), and there is a picture of my Great-Grandfather's store on display:

I am attempting to contact the museum for more information. Another view of the building is here.


I have finally acheived the mythical Trifecta:

I now have a wife who:

1. Can cook up a storm

2. Is an aerobics instructor

3. Is hooked on Playstation 2

Don't hate me, all you other jealous slacker husbands; I've been working on this woman for twenty years.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yo Yo Yo

It's nice to be important, but it's important to be a mench. More on that later...

You may recall that I played a Shlock Rock concert last night. Well, you're in luck, because my nine-year-old daughter Iguana videotaped most of it for me! The camera work is a little shaky and there's a lot of fast zooming in an out. So it looks about on par with your average network reality show. But more importantly, the bass came out nice and clear. The Moshe Skier Band provided backup, and the show was tight.

Here's the first clip (don't worry, I'm not uploading the entire show). This is a rap song called Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke, from an album called Lenny and the Shlockers. 1990 I think. It's being performed here by Etan G. Etan joined the band after I left. I've performed with him over the years, but I can't say that I've ever had a chance to get to know him. He's one of those guys who seems to have an excess of personality. He's always on. He isn't someone who is like all "Yo wass up my homies, y'all are sooo fly!" on stage, and then all "I say, do you have any Evian water? That loquacious dialect has dehydrated my oral apparatus." Nope. It's all Etan, all the time.

Some people can groove wit dat, and some get put off by it. I think I was probably in the latter group for a while (yes, Etan, I'm an uptight White guy). But I need to give some props to my man Etan. He is a mench. If you've read Psychotoddler for a while, you know that is my highest form of praise. Why do I say that he is a mench? I'm sure people who know him better can come up with many reasons. I just know what I see. And what I see is beneath all the jive from the 'hood is a guy who cares. He cares about his family, he cares about his people, he cares about Jewish kids, and yes, he even cares about Lenny Solomon.

I don't know if he cares about me. But I do know that I've played with many, many musicians over the years, and he is one of the only people who has ever lifted a finger to help me with the most important part of the gig: The Shlepping. G-d how I HATE shlepping. Lifting and hoisting and carrying. Up the stairs. Through the house. Out to the van. Into the van. Out of the van. Into the building. Up to the stage. Then break it down again afterwards. Speakers and guitars and amps and poles and cords and junction boxes and music stands...listen, after a long gig, the last thing I want to be doing is carrying all that stuff down into the basement at 1 am. But usually I do it anyway. Sometimes with my kids. But often alone.

But Etan was there for me. After hopping his little butt around the stage for an hour and a half, he started winding up the cords, pulling down the speakers, and yes, he shlepped it all downstairs with me. Etan, you are a mench.

OK, back to Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke. I'm posting this one for two reasons.

1. Etan has a (rather lengthy) story in the middle that oddly enough echoes a sentiment that I've expressed here several times. When you wear the Yarmulke, you represent the Jewish people, and that puts a special obligation on you to behave.

2. Did I mention the band was tight. Ouch!

Yo Yo Yo Yarmulke - Shlock Rock with The Moshe Skier Band

In the Land of the One-Syllable Names...

In the land of the one-syllable names, the two-syllable name is king. The land I came from, Queens, is a two-syllable land. Steven. David. Michael. Bar-bra (or Bah-bruh). Rachel. Heck, I have a one-syllable name, and my mother lengthened it to Markie. There are even a few three-syllable names like Jonathan. And let’s not talk about the old girlfriend who called me Markipoo.

Now I live in the Midwest, where a two-syllable name just seems like a lot of work. So everything is shortened. Pat. Deb. Mike. Jeff. Sue. Al. Some of these names seem to stop so suddenly that I almost feel like I’m tripping over them. Barb.

Unfortunately, now that I’m in a global “blogging” community, I’m coming in contact with people with ostensibly two- or more syllable names, and I’m not sure what to call them. Al or Alfred? Susan or Sue? Deb or Debbie? Glenn or Glenda?

Some of you two-syllable people get mighty offended if your names are contracted without your permission. I’m looking at you, David. And you as well, Mike. Or should I say “Michael”. Quit snickering, Steven! Er, Stephen.

So, if it won’t blow your cover, pipe in and tell me how you prefer to be addressed.

Friday, November 11, 2005

You Reap What You Sow

From the AP (emphasis mine):

Palestinians mourn: In the Palestinian village of Silet Al-Thaher in the West Bank, the Akhras clan mourned 17 relatives killed by one of the suicide bombers in Jordan - the first time Palestinians have been a target in a suicide attack.

"Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?" asked a weeping Najah Akhras, 35, who lost two nieces.

Similar thoughts were heard over and over in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Palestinians expressed outrage over attacks aimed at civilians.

It's about friggen time.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Don't Eat That Microphone!

Photos by Gregory Titievsky

I'm trying to come up with a funnier caption for this poster:

Say it lode: I'm Black and I'm prode!

I'm radioactive!


Come see the band in Madison on November 19th!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fudge Live on the Radio!

Don't forget to tune in to Fudge's first live radio broadcast at WYUR!

This Thursday, November 10th, at 7pm EDT (6pm in Milwaukee/Chicago, 4pm on the Left Coast)!

The show is called The Isle of Manhattan, and you can stream it on your computer.

The Story of Boba

Attention travelers on Midwest Airline flight number 1 to New York: We are experiencing weather-related delays. Departure has been pushed back 90 minutes. We apologize for the inconveniece.

I'd better call Mom. She'll be worried.


Meanwhile, back in "Little Poland"...



Did you look outside?


You didn't look outside?

Why should I look outside?

You didn't even go out on the porch?

Why should I go out on the porch?

What's wrong with you??

I never go out on the porch!

Your son is flying in from Milwaukee, and you don't even go out on the porch?? What kind of mother are you?

He's still in Milwaukee. Why should I go out on the porch now?

Don't you see the weather?

I saw the news. It's nice today.

Are you CRAZY?? You don't go out on the porch?? Go out there RIGHT NOW!!

Footsteps. Open door. Close door. Footsteps.

Did you go out on the porch?

Yes. There is fog.

FOG!! Don't you want to know that? There is fog and your son is flying in from Milwaukee.


So? SO? So they'll NEVER let him land in New York. Your son is on his way to Philadelphia, and you didn't even go out on the porch!

He's going to Philadelphia? Why would he go to Philadelphia?

He's going to Philadelphia because they will divert the plane. They will NEVER let him land in New York!!

He would call me if he was going to Philadelphia. Why hasn't he called me?

Some time later...

Mom? I've been trying to call you but your line has been busy. My flight was delayed, but we're leaving in ten minutes.

Thank G-d! Do you know what Boba did to me? (see above, tells the whole story)

OK I'll see you in a few hours.

Later, on the porch...


Hi Mom (smoooooch)

Come inside, I just have to put on makeup. That Boba is making me crazy. Do you know what she did to me?

Yes, you just told me.

No, not that. The other thing. She called me up last week to tell me she has an appointment with the wrist doctor, but she's afraid to drive there by herself--

You have wrist doctors in New York?

--so I of course volunteered to drive her myself.

Of course.

But then, she made a little mistake. She told me that she also has an appointment with the foot doctor and she is driving herself there.


You see? So if she can drive herself to the foot doctor, why can't she drive herself to the wrist doctor?

It's one of the great mysteries of life.

Do you know what the lesson is?

Don't offer to drive Boba anywhere?

If you're going to be a liar, you'd better have a good memory.

I'll never remember that.

I survived Hitler, because I remembered which lies I was telling, in the convent and with the Gestapo...

I would be dead for sure.

Later, at the hospital...

Lester, look who's here, your son. Mark.

Heddo Mawk...

Do you know what Boba did to me? You won't believe it (see above)

About an hour later...

Look, Markie, your sister is here with her kids.

Oh, that's who they are!

Kids give your uncle Mark a kiss. Do you know what Boba did to me today? (see above)

Another hour later...

Look, Markie, your other sister is here. Kids make room! Rachiele, do you know what your Aunt Boba did to me today? I think she's a little crazy (see above)

Many hours later, at a posh Upper West Side Pan-Asian Kosher restaurant...

Perele, it's so nice to see you! Your hair looks beautiful. Beautiful. Did I tell you about what Aunt Boba did to me today...

Abba, I think this would make a good blog. Can you remember the whole thing?

Maybe if I hear it a few more times...

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm Back Alive!

(Take the title any way you prefer.)

The trip to New York was grueling. And it hasn't been much better since I got back to Wisconsin, but hopefully things will slow down a little over the next few days.

I guess it's been a while since I last flew. Although there is still within me the six year old boy, excited about flying through the air on a big airplane, face plastered up against the window staring down as the buildings and cars and farms and lakes get smaller and smaller, the industry has been working hard to take that joy away from me. At about the time that I was standing in yet another line, my ticket and driver's license in my teeth, my wallet and PDA in one hand, my cell phone in another, my beeper in another, taking off my belt and simultaneously holding up my pants with another hand, and holding both shoes with my last hand (I counted six hands there), I decided that flying was no longer much fun.

Of course I went to see my Dad. Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I got pissed off. I can't blame any one person. The whole system stinks. The hospital is sorely understaffed and many people seem to suffer from the "it's not my problem" syndrome. There were a few people I came across who were exceptions, like the physicians assistant who, although she was just covering, took time out to go through the chart with me and write some much needed orders (like for my father to be taken out of bed for the first time in ten days), but even they were in over their heads and readily acknowledged that they would like to be helping more, but they can't be in ten places at once.

Once again, I'm glad I don't have to practice medicine there. Anyway, after that I got in my rented Dodge Neon (a sweet little car) and took my Mom into Manhattan to pick up Fudge. Only I didn't realize it was the day of the New York Marathon. Various streets were closed or diverted, and no dose of Benicar was able to keep my blood pressure in check. The restaurant was good and deserves a post of its own. Although my mom found some curious similarities between the hospital and the restaurant that made her laugh out loud. Several times. Well, it's good she can laugh about it.

Anyway, I'm glad I went. Seeing the situation really helped. My Dad's main problem is that although his mind works well, it is disconnected from the world around him by failing vision, poor hearing, and a body that doesn't work too well. No wonder he's depressed.

I think I was angry with him before this trip. Why doesn't he try more? Why is he just sitting there? Why doesn't he look at his grandkids and talk to them? Why won't he stay awake? Sitting with him in the hospital, I began to ask myself what I would do in his situation. I'm developing more of an empathy with him. I think my anger with him was partially a fear for my own future. I don't want to see myself in that bed in 40 years. What can I do, now, to get myself off that path? And is it too late to turn him around?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Shlock Rock in Milwaukee

Me and Moe in Chicago, 1992

I'm working on putting together a Shlock Rock concert in Milwaukee on Monday, November 14th. The Moshe Skier Band will be backing up Lenny Solomon. I hope any of you who are within travelling distance can make the show. The money raised will benefit one of our local schools.

I'll update this as more information becomes available.

UPDATE: The show is on! Details about where and when and what time and how much are on my website. I hope that those of you in the Milwaukee/Chicago/Madison area can attend. It will be fun.

Also, I found this at Lenny's website.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I’m heading off to New York on Sunday to visit my Dad. He’s been deteriorating and I have felt powerless to do much about it until just before the Holidays. My mother got him into a Nursing Home Subacute Rehab Facility at my insistence and he started to eat better and they were getting him out of bed and doing therapy with him. So naturally he hates it there. But he hasn’t spent much time there because he’s been hospitalized twice since he was admitted. I don’t think this is any reflection on the care he received at the Subacute. Rather, I think he probably needed to be hospitalized all along but either my Mom or his former physician didn’t realize this.

I’ve been meaning to write about the value of THE BEST™. It seems New Yorkers, or maybe just New York Jews are obsessed with THE BEST™ (TB). “Who is the doctor? Is he THE BEST?” “He’s in THAT hospital?? That’s not THE BEST!! You have to transfer him!” I’m still trying to figure out how someone gets labeled as TB. I recall a visit to NY a few years back where my sister dragged me along with her son to the pediatrician so that I could meet him. “He’s THE BEST™,” she gushed as we waited, for a while, in the closet-sized examining room. When he did come in, he never made eye contact me, never gave my sister an opportunity to introduce her BROTHER, THE DOCTOR™, and grunted a few things at my nephew and handed her a prescription. On his way out the door, she blurted out a brief introduction, and he looked at me and blinked, I think, then exited the room.

When I told my sister I wasn’t too impressed, she was dumbstruck. “But he’s THE BEST™!” If he’s the best you got, I could make a killing there. Same story with my Dad. My mother and sisters had insisted his docs were TB, but again, I was not impressed. After multiple long distance discussions with them concerning doctors, Nursing Homes, Medicare HMOs (oy), Geriatricians, and HOW I DO THINGS™, we got him into the NH where things are starting to sort themselves out. But I guess the doctors there aren’t TB.

Well, I’ve had an opportunity to appraise the care he’s gotten from TB and Not TB, because of the two different hospitals and the two sets of doctors. And I have to say that I’m more impressed with the NTBs than the TBs. The NTBs call me back, in fact even gave me their cell phone numbers, discuss his care at length with me and also my Mom (G-d bless them, that can’t be easy), and see him frequently. The TB never responded to phone calls or a fairly succinct typed letter that I faxed to his office prior to the hospitalization where I explained my concern that, I don’t know, I THINK MY DAD NEEDS TO BE HOSPITALIZED. I got a call from a “nurse” two days later with a very half-hearted plan to address this. So I have not been too upset that his care transferred to the NTB when he went to the NH.

However, despite all of the above, I have to say that I still think he would be getting much better care if he were here in Wisconsin with me. And it’s not just because of HOW I DO THINGS™. I think that the doctors I work with provide better all-around care. Maybe we’re not as overworked as the New Yorkers. Maybe we have more time to sit and look at a patient and recognize things that are obvious and maybe not so obvious. Whatever. It matters not, because they won’t even consider relocating here.

So yes, it’s been frustrating to me as the family doctor to be running the show from 900 miles away, dealing with TB doctors who won’t give me the courtesy of a return call, playing the heavy to my sisters who insist on transferring him to TB hospital (where they don’t allow visitors before 2pm and apparently don’t feed my Dad or get him out of bed), and trying to reassure my Mom that she’s doing the right thing by putting him in the NH. That’s why I’m going out there Sunday to eyeball the situation and spend time with my Dad.

Afterwards, I plan to take my Mom and drive to Manhattan to pick up Fudge and go out to eat at a nice restaurant. And then hop a flight back to Civilization. Maybe we’re not THE BEST™ out here. But we get the job done.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Even More Conversations With the Criminally Insane

The PT: Abba, look at the trees! The leaves are all yellow!

Abba: That's right, because what season is it?

The PT: I don't know.

The PT: Just Kidding!

Abba: ...so what season is it?

The PT: I forgot.


Haircut Lady: You have a lot of brothers and sisters! It must be very busy at your house.

The PT: Yeah...

Haircut Lady: So do you help out and do any chores?

The PT: No! I just watch TV all day.


The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I'm hungry again.

Mrs. B: How 'bout a banana.

The PT: How 'bout Pringles.

Mrs. B: How 'bout a banana.


The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I finished the banana.

Mrs. B: You only ate half.

The PT: But I'm full of it. I'm going to frow it out.

Abba: Why don't you put it on the table, for when you get hungry again.

The PT: BUT I'M FULL!! I'm putting it in the garbage.


The PT: Mommy.

Mrs. B: What.

The PT: I'm hungry again.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Miss Melodrama

Miss Melodrama went to the doctor.
Miss Melodrama had her blood drawn.
Miss Melodrama cradled her "injured" arm for the rest of the evening.
Miss Melodrama "needed" to sit on her blue chair and watch Jimmy Neutron.
Miss Melodrama couldn't use either hand to hold her cup of water, so her father had to hold it up to her mouth so she could drink with a straw.
Miss Melodrama somehow finagled her mother into putting pretzels, one by one, into her mouth.
Miss Melodrama took ten minutes to get undressed for her bath because she wouldn't let me pull her sleeve over her arm.
Miss Melodrama attempted to take a bath without getting her arm wet, but ultimately failed.
Miss Melodrama insisted I blow her a kiss from across the room so that her arm wouldn't be touched.
Miss Melodrama got a big fat smoochy kiss on the cheek instead.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Definition of Insanity

You'd think I would have learned.

When the lunch from the Jewish Home came today, the dessert looked a little familiar. It had that "not so fresh" look. And it smelled a little...stale. Like maybe it had been in a closet for a week. Or more. Or possibly sitting on a counter.

Funny, but it looked very similar about a week before, when its sister slice arrived at my office with a different lunch. At that time it also had that "shoebox" smell to it. Didn't taste too good, either. But I ate the whole thing.

These thoughts ran through my mind as I went back and forth over whether I should try the current slice of apple pie. In the end, the Y chromosome took over for better judgement and I took a bite. Yup, same pie as as last week. You can tell when you're eating something rancid because at the same time that you're putting it in your mouth, you can feel fumes come out through your nose.

Would you believe I actually took a second bite? I thought to myself, "Man, that was baaaad. Maybe I didn't taste it right. It doesn't look as bad as it tasted. Let me try again."

Don't worry. I didn't eat anymore. I'm not crazy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Holiday Gift-Giving

The PT is sick. She has 102 degree fever. She has been lethargic and miserable for the past 2 days. She missed all of Simchas Torah and Mrs. Balabusta had to stay home with her.

It seems she has a tendency to get sick during the Holidays. Why? I can't be certain, but it seems to coincide with the deluge of visitors from New York and elsewhere, all coming for the Holidays, and all bringing their sniffling preschoolers to the synagogue for the Holiday services. And leaving them in the playroom with my daughter.

While I appreciate the enthusiasm for exposing the little ones to the festivities at the Shul, and the fact that many of our guests have traveled here at great expense, I wish some would show a little better judgement when it comes to bringing sick kids to Shul. I would love for my daughter to meet new kids and share her toys with them, but I really would prefer they didn't share their germs with her.

That is All.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Base Guitar

Over the Holiday, The PT decided to start playing guitar. She picked up a plastic baseball bat and started playing it while singing songs that she learned in K4 or on Noggin. I wish I had a picture to show you, but apparently, in the past 24 hours, she has "outgrown" it.

She'd pick up the bat, hold it down by her hips (slung low), and then get a very serious expression on her face. Then, with her right hand, she'd start moving her fingers up and down. And then she'd sing something like, "It's just MEEEEEE, It's just MEEEEE." Or something like that.

I got the distinct impression that she was trying to play bass. It wasn't the strumming movement that most air guitar players mimic. It was a definite plucking motion. Which I find interesting because I play bass with a pick. So where she got it from, I don't know.

Moe told her she played real well. He said maybe one day Fudge will give her real guitar lessons.

"Ooh, that would be great," she said. "It would be a lot easier than playing this bat."

Friday, October 21, 2005

Except for this

My hands were so cold last night that by the time I got to the end of the last set, I could only play half the notes I wanted to play.

I wanted to play

DUM diggiDUM diggiDUM diggiDUM diggiDUM

but all I could get out was


It was too cold for the diggis.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I told you I wouldn't blog about it

So I won't.

The End is Near

This social worker walked into the elevator with me this morning.

"Only two days left," she said ominously.

"...until WHAT?" I asked, fearing the worst. World War III? The aliens invade?

"Until the weekend."

This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I need a few days off in October...

How many of you reading this have had to say those words this year?

The Jewish Holidays couldn't have come out any worse. Two days the first week. One the next. And two more for each of the next two weeks. All smack in the middle of the week. From a productivity standpoint, the entire month is shot.

I happen to have a job where I don't have to ask permission for time off. If I need the time, I take it. And I'm fortunate enough to have a partner who's willing to cover me without making a fuss. But each day that I'm gone, while I'm in shul, the work is literally piling up on my desk, waiting for me when I get back. And all the patients that I can't see while I'm off are somehow being crammed into the days when I am there. So that those days are now incredibly hectic. Just thinking about it now is making me nuts.

There are also issues going on with my family in New York, and I'd like to try to find time to get back there, but I just can't now. The truth is that I feel trapped by the Holidays this year, and I can't relax enough to enjoy them in any way. It shouldn't have to be like this.

I'm sure it's worse for many of you, who have to try to get your bosses to understand and give you the time off. I wonder how many Jews are losing their jobs this month?

Well, I'm back in the office tomorrow. Can't wait till they ask me how my "vacation" was.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weeee've been working on the Suuuukkah...

The PT, Curly, Larry, and Moe attempt to recreate the famous Iwo Jima pose.

Back to work!

BTW, all six kids helped with the Sukkah, but Fudge and Iguana weren't around when I snapped the pictures.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I've been tagged by Ezzie for the "7" meme. I suppose I deserve it for the all the misery I put people through with my Goatface club.

Oh well, here goes nothing:

7 things I can do:

  1. Play bass (and guitar--I thought about cheating and just listing the instruments that I play but I'll play along)
  2. Beat 13 year old kids at race car games on the XBOX
  3. Build a computer
  4. Build a sukkah (in fact I should really be doing that now)
  5. Diagnose and treat bizarre illnesses
  6. Make a wicked Cholent
  7. Read the Torah and Haftorah

7 things I can't do:

  1. Aerobics
  2. Clean a chicken
  3. Get that cwap out from inside the drain of the sink (there are some things that are too gross, even for a doctor)
  4. Drive a stick shift
  5. Any type of auto repair
  6. Any type of home repair
  7. Get people to give me things for free

7 things I hope to do in my life:

  1. Learn to drive a stick shift
  2. Fly an airplane
  3. Walk on the Moon (Mars will do too)
  4. Meet Doctor Bean and his family
  5. Tour the world and elsewhere
  6. Make Aliyah
  7. Dance at my grandchildren's weddings

7 things I say often:

  1. Cwap
  2. Who took my undershirts?
  3. Hello, this is Dr. S., did you page me?
  4. No, I'm calling you because I have nothing better to do at 3 am.
  5. Bubs! (to The PT)

This time I'm just going to pass this on to people who are related to me:

Fudge, Mrs. Balabusta, Laya

Monday, October 10, 2005

Saving Private Skier

PT: What are you playing?

Iguana: Call of Duty.

PT: Uh-huh.

Iguana: I have to regroup with my Seargent.

PT: Does your Seargent know that he's playing with a nine year-old girl?

Iguana: Uhhh....Nope! And he probably never will, because I look like this Soviet person.

PT: Uh-huh.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

We're losing the PR war

About this time last year I blogged about my discomfort with Jewish content in the secular media. At the time I felt that discussion of Jewish Holidays really didn't belong in the non-Jewish media, and since they couldn't do the subject right anyway, I'd just as soon they left it out.

So I guess I was a little unprepared for my feeling of disappointment when the local rag decided to completely ignore Rosh Hashana this year. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe some mention. Something like, "Tonight starts the two day holiday of Rawsh Hashawnana, so you won't be able to get in to see your doctor/dentist/lawyer until Thursday." You know, like a little "heads up."

But not a peep in this week's paper. What tipped me off was when a patient came in to see me on Thursday asking if I was "celebrating" Ramadan. I looked at her in total disbelief. Surely she knew I was Jewish. Well, maybe she doesn't know that Ramadan is a Muslim holiday. Or she doesn't know the difference between Muslim and Jewish customs.

Or maybe it had to do with the fact that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel decided to run a huge glowing article about Ramadan on the first day of Rosh Hashana.

OK, so maybe Rosh Hashana and the start of Ramadan fell out on the same day this year, so why should I expect coverage of one to take preference over the other? Still, I can't help but wonder why it is that, while Jews have brought so many breakthroughs in science, medicine, and arts to the world, and Islam has given us terrorism, oppression and death, they still manage to get better press than us.

I guess I should be careful what I wish for.

Cheat Commandos

Long-time readers of this blog are probably perplexed by my semi-regular references to Homestar Runner. I think that brothers Matt and Mike Chapman are such comic geniuses that the link to their site was the third that I included when I started Psychotoddler. But the appeal is similar to that of Monty Python. Which is to say (paraphrasing John Scalzi) that "a certain segment of humanity will find it unaccountably amusing and will quote it whenever possible while the rest of humanity stares and wonders what the heck the geeks are going on about now."

Regardless of what you think of the site, the cartoons linked to below will give more than a chuckle to any kid raised during the 80's watching cartoons like "GI Joe", which was really a 30 minute commercial for their playsets and toys masquerading as a children's show. With a dose of heavy-handed moralizing tacked on at the end for "educational value."

Cheat Commandos Commercial

Cheat Commandos...O's...Breakfast Cereal Commercial!

Episode: Shopping for Danger

Commandos in the Classroom!

The genesis of the Cheat Commandos was, as usual, a Strong Bad email.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

My Favorite Machzor

The search is finally over. I’ve found the perfect Machzor. A Machzor is a prayer book that is used on the High Holidays. The services on these days being as incredibly long as they are, it becomes very important to find a Machzor that is comfortable and convenient to use. For hours. And hours. And hours. I’m not kidding.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to limit the discussion to ArtScroll Machzors. Everyone knows ArtScroll has had the market for Jewish Prayer books wrapped up since the 80’s. There’s no sense in arguing about it. An ArtScroll prayer book brings with it all of the innovations that the company has brought to the Twentieth Century, or in Jewish years, the Fifty-Seventh Century. Like punctuation. And readable type. And ArtScroll has a consistent policy of including all the relevant prayers. So, while my wife seems to prefer prayer books that were last typeset in 1909, are usually missing pages or whole services, and often leave out individual prayers (instead leaving little place markers, like “kaddish” or “ledovid”, forcing you to start turning pages to try to figure out where these prayers are), the rest of the civilized world has moved on to ArtScroll. Boy, I bet I’m going to get a lot of ArtScroll Google hits now. ArtScroll ArtScroll. They should send me money. Or a free set of Haggadahs.

So let’s discuss the contenders:

Exhibit A: The Zichron Moshe Machzor

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This is the standard hardcover English/Hebrew edition used since the 1980’s. Yes, I know it’s Nusach Sfard. There are no Nusach Ashkenaz minyanim on the Milwaukee West Side. Deal with it.

Exhibit B: The Shirat Moshe Machzor

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This is the book I just bought, and to which I am composing this blog. I love you. Mmmmah! (that was a kiss sound)

Exhibit C: The mini Zicron Moshe Machzor

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This is the small, softcover edition of the Exhibit A that my son Curly was forced to use over the holidays.

OK, Exhibit B wins.

What, you want reasons?

Alright. First of all, Exhibit B has proportions that are thinner and wider than the other two. The advantage of that will be more clear in a moment, but suffice it to say that it is also more comfortable to hold as a result. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this.

Second, while Exhibits A and C have an English translation on every other page, Exhibit B is all Hebrew, which means that it has half the number of pages as the other two editions, and is therefore lighter. Well, not exactly half. The layout is different, because

Third, Exhibit B has NICE BIG LETTERS which makes it easy to read if you lay it on a table or shtender. Exhibit A has smaller, but still legible letters, which is fine, but if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, and let’s face it, you all do, you’re going to need to hold this baby up to your face to read it. Exhibit C is a miniature version of Exhibit A, which means that anyone over 40 should not even consider considering it.

Fourth, and this is something that is very important to me, since I have a shtender (book stand). At least this time I did. That’s another blog. Anyway, there’s a real difference in the quality of these books which is related to the weight, proportions, and paper quality. It becomes apparent when you lay the book down on a table or shtender. Why would you want to do that? Well, the service can last six or seven hours. Believe me, you’re going to want to put the book down.

So if you put Exhibit A down, and open the page to, let’s say, Ashrei

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It looks OK as long as you’re holding the page open. But if you take your hand away…

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…the pages start turning…

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…all by themselves. So that you can’t leave the book alone for a minute. NOT ONE MINUTE! This can be both physically and mentally taxing.

Now let’s observe what happens when you open Exhibit B:

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…and leave it alone for a while:

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See? It stays put! So you can open your TorahGram or Gemorah or whatever reading material you brought along to the service and the book will be open to the exact page where you left it ten minutes ago, no doubt where the Chazzan is still kvetching away.

Now, just for completeness, if you were foolish enough to leave Exhibit C alone on a table, this is what you get:

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Exactly. Never put it down (sorry Curly).

And that brings me to my fifth point. There are a lot of extra piyutim (poems, or extra prayers) in place in Exhibit B. Normally I would consider this a detriment. Why not just exclude the extra prayers that nobody ever says? But in this case, for the High Holy Days, I consider it a plus. Why?

Let’s say you are stuck in shul staring at the same page for about 20 minutes while the Chazzan drones on, and on….and on…and ON…AND ONNNN…GOOD GRAVY GET ME A GUUUUNNNNN!!!! Huh? Where was I? Oh yeah, the Chazzan is kvetching arain for a good 20 minutes on the same page, and you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Then suddenly, you see some unfamiliar small type on the next page:

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And you realize that it’s something that your shul (or any other that you’ve ever been in) never says. You start turning page…

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…after page…

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..after page! Suddenly, you feel like you’re making progress! The feeling of elation you get from rapidly turning pages after you’ve been stuck on the same one for half an hour cannot be described! You have to experience it!

So for this and many other reasons that I can’t remember, I highly recommend Exhibit B. And although Rosh Hashana is over, Yom Kippur is right around the corner. Now go out there and buy one!