Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jack Johnson is a jackass

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

On Thanksgiving day, I received this missive:

Dear papabradstein,

Video Disabled

A copyright owner has claimed it owns some or all of the audio content in your video 3B Plays with a Friend. The audio content identified in your video is We're Going To Be Friends by Jack Johnson. We regret to inform you that your video has been blocked from playback due to a music rights issue.

Replace Your Audio with AudioSwap

Don't worry, we have plenty of music available for your use. Please visit our AudioSwap library to learn how you can easily replace the audio in your video with any track from our growing library of fully licensed songs.

Other Options

If you think there's been a mistake, or you have other questions, please visit the Copyright Notice page in your account.

The YouTube Content Identification Team

I'm sure the timing was determined by some bucket of bits and bolts, not by the jackass himself, but receiving this on a day when people come together to give thanks and enjoy each other's company was icing.

Let's set the record straight on a few issues here
  • I'm all about artists making money, making lots of it, if they can.

  • I had a choice when I acquired that song, and I chose to buy it because...well, see my first point.

  • As I'm sure you know, jackass, you had a choice--hell, you could have even made money off my video, which is what you're all about it seems.
There are other artists who have automatically granted permission for the use of their songs in videos of mine. Of course, there are others who have refused, as you did, to grant permission. If it's true that a man is known by the company he keeps, then I'm sure that you're happy to keep company with the greatest self-absorbed, cornrowed, plastic surgery victim of our time, who also refused permission.

What is it with you artists who think that by blocking your fans from using and sharing your work you can make more money? Are you really that stupid?

Let's be honest here, jackass, this comes down to money, and my use of your song didn't cost you a dime. In fact, I bought your album so I could use that song, so you made out pretty well on this deal. And you're not playing on street corners, hoping for enough spare change so you can buy a bottle of Boone's to keep you warm while you bunk under some overpass. I'm doing all right too, but certainly none of what I have comes courtesy of you. I'm not making any money off of you, jackass. What I have done is akin to borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor.

I know that this whole sharing idea isn't a foreign concept to you, jackass, but perhaps you should point your army of suits to your own words before you set them loose on nice, if foulmouthed, fathers.

Johnson has stated in several interviews that a big part of his success involved his friends recording "bootlegs" of his tracks and distributing them at surf competitions. Johnson has also stated that he supports the sharing of live recordings and bootlegs of his music, many of which can be found here.

"It's pretty crazy. There's stuff I would find online that I'd only given to one friend, so I know how it got there," Johnson says. "It's been a spider-web effect. That's the whole reason all this [success] started. I'm sure there's lots of people who hate [downloading], but I really dig it."
Speaking of your own words, I don't suppose that you have to mean every word that you sing, so I wonder...can you tell me which of these you didn't mean when you sold them to us like a box of used lightbulbs?
If you have two
Give one to your friend
If you have three
Give one to your friend and me
It's always more fun
To share with everyone
I also wonder what it's like. As Ani sang,
I wonder if you miss your old friends
Once you've proven what you're worth?
Yeah I wonder
When you're a big star
Will you miss the earth?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cold comfort

I was in the lobby of our building, getting punched in the face by 3B, who I was putting into time out for punching me in the face during the elevator ride down from our condo, hearing Barky whine and feeling him winding his leash around my legs in an attempt to get out to pee after a full day in his crate as I held 3B's head between my hands, trying to get him to focus on what I was saying, realizing that he was too young for this technique to work when a neighbor came in and asked me, "What do you think about the management company petition?"

It took all of what little restraint I had left to not deliver the Socratic reply that leapt to the tip of my tongue: Are you fucking kidding me?

Instead, I said, "I've been a little busy," and thought that I'll have to wait until next year for that Father of the Year award.

And so it went last week, while Mama was in Ghana and I attempted to do for one week what she does every week of the year: work full time and raise 3B. The week was by turns wonderful--watching 3B playing with his classmates on the playground and watching him light up as we videoSkyped with Mama--and grueling--the gasping sobbing when I dropped him off at school and watching him melt down and run away from the computer as one of our videoSkypes had a technical breakdown precipitating a small meltdown in me.

That meltdown was the nadir of the week and a reminder of the blessing and curse of my impatience. I'm constantly looking for the faster, and hopefully easier, way to do things. During the week, I needed all the faster and easier methods I could devise for everything I needed to get done, but there are some things that can't go faster--like transitions with a two-year-old.

I was ready for the whole day as soon as 3B woke up, with his snacks and lunch packed, his clothes laid out, and my work day planned around 3B's schedule. But getting 3B into that stroller as soon as he woke up so we could take Barky for a walk in the 20 degree weather was not something that I could prepare, lay out or plan for. Fortunately, 3B will do anything for his gummy vitamins, so I was able to bribe him for a few mornings.

But then he got wise to me.

And so it went last week. At some times, we needed to do things that 3B didn't want to do at that time, or ever. And honestly, they were some things that I didn't want to do either, which didn't make it easier to convince 3B to come along with me. I mean, really? Stroll around in subfreezing temperatures just so I could pick up my dog's steaming poop? Hey, I'd rather stay in too.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with Mom once about doing the dishes. She was telling me that she had to wash them all while I was out for the evening, and I responded that I was going to wash them when I got home, there was no hurry. Mom replied that sometimes things have to be done when they have to be done. That's the truth, which was bad news for my neighbors seeking my signature, because that's just not something that had to get done last week.

As I stayed up late, packing snacks, making lunch, and working, Mom's words kept coming back to me. Now, however, they weren't grating at all. They were a comforting reminder that despite the punching, the meltdowns and the arctic weather, I wasn't alone in this endeavor; I always had Mom with me.

Not that the comfort kept me from asking, "Are you fucking kidding?" when I walked into those icy mornings.

And so it went last week.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Literacy Vandals

Because my other post about grammar vandals was such a hit with y'all, I thought that you'd appreciate this photo, not only for the graffiti, but for the knowledge that I listen to a grammar podcast. Yeah, that's how this geek rolls.

Literacy Vandals, originally uploaded by GrammarGirl.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Royale with Bert

I was looking around for a primer on Amsterdam for Sister #2, based on her comment on my previous post. Specifically, I was looking for the primer on Amsterdam coffee houses, but before I could find that, I found this primer on Europe from Sesame Street, which might be helpful to our new Secretary of State as she tries to repair relations with our European allies.

(And yes, both are from Pulp Fiction, so yes, they use the full depth and breadth of the English language.)

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Drug czar goes to pot

I know that it's the last days of the administration, when you can get away with anything, but you'd think that they would lay off the wacky weed until January 21, especially in the drug czar's office.

Apparently, however, no Dorito is safe in the Office of National Drug Control Policy, because who else but someone who just burned through a bag of chronic would post a Google map showing all the locations where you can buy weed in San Francisco?

You can tell that whoever did this really had the good stuff, since they got 27 locations wrong and accidentally posted the locations of every Starbucks as well. Starbucks? Hey, I don't want no fru fru latte making me all uptight when I'm chilled like this. C'mon man, where's the 7-11? You're not holding out on me, are you bro?

I'm not terribly surprised by this latest product from the same Spicolis who, as the article points out, produced illegal covert propaganda using your tax dollars.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Falling and laughing

Mama's still in Ghana, so I'm doing all the running around with 3B that she usually does. This includes dropping 3B off at school and picking him up. The drop offs are pretty traumatic for 3B, with lots of sobbing, even though he says he wants to go to school, wants to see Mrs. I, his teacher, and wants to go to movement class or music class.

By the afternoon, when I pick him up, all of that is forgotten and he's running around the playground with his peeps, having a blast. We talk about his day as we walk out to the car and drive home.

Papa: Where were you when I came to pick you up today?
3B: In the playground schoolhouse.
Papa: What were you doing?
3B: Having a meeting.
Papa: What else did you do on the playground?
3B: I was jumping off two steps.
Papa: What happened when you jumped off two steps?
3B: I fell.
Papa: Oh. Then what happened?
3B: I laughed.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What goes down must blow up

This must be fall because everything's falling: the Dow Jones, our sense of reality, and snow.

To be fair, half of this snow was traveling upward in the eddying winds just off of our balcony, but I'd rather call this season Fall than Blow Up.

Fall...the season when snow falls

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mama leaves

Every time 3B heard our neighbors arrive or leave tonight he would announce, "Mommy is home!" He would also announce that every time the breadmaker would make a sound, or there would be a click, clack, clank or clunk that he could hear.

It all makes sense once you know that we had just walked Mama down to a taxi that took her to her flight to Ghana, where she'll be all week. No, it wasn't a big yellow taxi, but the effect was the same.

And then there were the crying jags. Two or three. But again, it's understandable, and all I can do is hold 3B until he calms down and pray he holds me too.

There are upsides to having a chatty toddler--you know what he did at school, you know what he doesn't want to eat for lunch (or "dunch"), and it's heartwarming to hear him say, "I love you."

Of course, there are downsides, like his remarkable ability to keep himself awake well into the night as he consolidates his memories of the day into his long-term memory neurons. I just spent 45 minutes listening to a fascinating soliloquy through the video monitor. It ranged from the maudlin...a final chorus or 12 of Leave Her Johnny, to the pragmatic..."after you go to the potty, you have to wash your hands in the sink," to the heartbreaking..."You need some comfort. Want Mommy to come in and comfort you."

On any given night, those words cause an ache in my chest. Mama and I always consider going in, and sometimes we do, depending on the circumstances. But even when we do, we remind him that we're here, that we'll always be here, rub him on the back, sing him a soft song, and walk out. What we really want to do is scoop 3B up, tuck him in bed with us, and snuggle all night long.

Of course, if we did that, our bed would become center stage, a trampoline, and an endless Jump Around concert.

Tonight is no different, especially because I know what 3B is going through. More than that, I feel what 3B is going through. And we'll be feeling it together for the rest of this week. If the past is a guide, the first few days will seem long and chaotic, and then we'll get into our new rhythm and time will seem to pass more quickly.

Until the neighbors open their door again.

How much do you think it would cost to send them to Florida for a week? Or should I just change the locks on their door?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Child psychology, according to a two-year-old

As we were driving home from getting 3B's picture taken with Santa...yeah, a Santa picture--we did it because Shutterfly had an offer that made the picture free and because nothing says Hanukkah like a Santa picture and because we need a new photo of 3B to send out with all the Christmakwanzukkah cards we didn't send last year, so people don't think 3B didn't grow at all over the last year.

Where was I? Right--we were driving home.

And we were talking with 3B about what we had just done:

"Did you have fun driving the train?" [Santa was ensconced in a Polar Express exhibit.]
"Did Santa give you stickers?"
"Do you want to play with them?"
"Yeah, sure. Thanks."
"What does Santa say?"
"Does he say, 'Ho ho ho'?"
"Santa says, 'Ho ho ho and a bottle of rum!'"
Now, that's my kind of Santa.

Mama made cupcakes one night this week. The next morning, 3B spied them sitting up on the counter as I was trying to convince him to eat his Life and blueberries with milk. He was fine with the blueberries, in fact, he picked them all out and gobbled them up in a few minutes, but he was having none of the cereal.

So, having learned everything I need to know about parenting from Bill Cosby, I said, "Sure, let me get you a cupcake."

3B ran over, had me pick him up and said, "I can't wait to have one of those cupcakes."

For a sentence like that, sure, whatever you want, kid--just eat it before Mama comes back. And wipe those crumbs off your face.

The other day, one of the first freezing days of winter here, Mama decided to take the boys on the dog park, playground, coffee shop circuit. Even though she figured that there wouldn't be any kids at the playground, Mama wanted to get 3B out and running around for at least a short while before frostbite sets in, plus he gets busy at the coffee shop, which has a play area overflowing with toys.

So Mama was happily surprised when they arrived at the playground and saw that a girl and her mother were there. The girl was just about 3B's age, and they started playing as Mama and the other mother fell into conversation. They talked about, of course, the kids' ages and sizes--the girl was a head taller than 3B, which is remarkable, since he tracks in the 90th percentile for height for boys. That's one tall little girl.

As the kids moved from one activity to another, the moms' conversation meandered along. While the other mom explained that she was finishing up her residency, 3B and the girl started drumming on one of the stools. Mama asked what the other Mom's residency was in and the other mother replied "child psychology" just as 3B slapped his hands flat on the stool and declared, "The drumming stopped," reciting from one of his favorite books.

Suddenly, as Mama realized what 3B was going to say next, time slowed down and all she could hear was the echo of the other mom's last words in her mind: child psychology.

Then, 3B recited the next line of the story, slowly and clearly, "The executioner raised his great axe."

Really? Child psychology, you say?

Full disclaimer: Mama didn't care one whit about the cupcake for breakfast. In fact, she sent two of them with him to Mrs. K's that day, so I'm in the clear.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Little things I should have said and done

I'm quite sure that this weekend was a typical one, primarily because I can't remember much of it. When I was younger, that might have implied one kind of activity or another, but at my age, that implies too many activities, which overwhelmed my shrinking number of neurons and so which got flushed from the bathroom of my brain.

Wait, did I just imply that my weekend was full of crappy activities?

OK, that's not the true, it's just a crappy metaphor that made it seem so.

On Saturday morning, we decided to motivate to a museum, and Natural History seemed a good choice, with exhibits about dirt, Korea, Rastafari, and butterflies, plus the permanent exhibits--elephants, dinosaurs, and so on. While I was checking them out on the WaPo site, I saw that folks had spontaneously set up message boards for Barack at the Lincoln Memorial.

We took 3B there for a civics lesson and because it's one of my favorite monuments. Lincoln's words that are carved into the interior walls choke me up. Of course, being there with a two-year-old, there was no way I could pause long enough to read a single word. Nevertheless, it was a powerful experience to be there, with message boards to our first African American president laid out before the carved figure of our president who liberated the slaves.

Walking there through the Vietnam Memorial was a reminder of the seriousness of the task facing each president--my son on my shoulders, both of us looking at the pictures laid out of young men sitting in helicopter doorways and standing at attention before our flag, memorials of patches and poems, and the reflections of our own faces in the stoic wall, laced through with the names carved into the stone.

At one point, 3B reached out to the wall and said, "Want to touch that." When I leaned forward and let him feel the names on the wall, he started to pluck at them. 3B said, "They're stuck in there."

Yes...yes they are.

After that, we headed to the museum. Correction--we drove around DC looking for parking for 45 minutes before I finally dropped Mama and 3B off and continued circling.

I'd like five minutes with the genius who built so many massive museums in this city and not one decent garage near any of them. And then five minutes with the genius who put in only one Metro stop in the National Mall, which is over two miles long. But he might have to wait in line behind the city planner wunderkind who determined that there should be no parking in front of the doorway of any business in DC, which only reduces the parking stock by about 75 percent.

So, after having banged our front bumper and hitch-mounted bike rack off a couple of cars as I shoehorned my way into a parking spot, I was off to the museum for lunch with Mama and 3B. I found Mama who was sitting at a tray with the remnants of a chocolate cupcake, a bucket of fries, a dish of macaroni and cheese, an apple and a very happy boy.

Turns out the museum cafe was unable to take credit cards, which was not what Mama wanted to hear as she tried to wrangle a hungry, nap-deprived, excited 3B while balancing a tray full of food. The man in back of her in line sized up the situation and offered to pay for her food just as Mama was able to dig a $10 bill out of her purse.

My love for Mama is so strong that at times, like this morning, it brings me to tears, but it can never surpass my respect for Mama's ability to do the impossible. Well, what's impossible for me, that is. Had that been me in line, I would have taken that man's money, asked if I could borrow his stroller and if he could pull our car around when we were ready to leave the museum. And then I might have had a small breakdown.

As it was, I found Mama and 3B somehow, despite the lack of cell reception in the building, and we ended up enjoying the elephant a little bit, the dinosaurs a bit more, the crawl-through model termite mound quite a bit and the roundabout Eamesesque seats in the mammal skeleton room most of all. Then it was suddenly time to go see if I could butter up the front bumper and slide the car out of the parking spot that I'd wedged it into.

As we flew into the lobby--3B was on my shoulder for a helicopter ride to the car--we came upon a singing group, and as we got closer, I heard a familiar song, a song that I hadn't known well until two years ago when we selected it to play at Mom's memorial service. Since then, it's been a source of some comfort, reminding me of Mom and everything that she was to me. Of her humor and her laugh, of her memories of sitting alone atop a hill in San Francisco watching the fog roll in and feeling the wind blow against her, of her unconditional love for me, in which I often took shelter from the storm.

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
For the voyage is done an' the winds don't blow,
An' it's time for us to leave her!
I sat right down on the floor with 3B, who was engrossed by the music. We kept listening as they followed that up with A Rovin', and then headed upstairs to continue the concert as we distracted 3B from his fascination with their squeeze box and big drum and flew out the door.
A-rovin', a-rovin',
Since rovin's bin my ru-i-in,
We'll go no more a-rovin'
As soon as we were outside, Mama got an email letting her know that the woman who had gotten her into her current job, the woman who we had dinner with in Belgium, the woman who Mama was trying to get to come along on her upcoming trip to Ghana, and who Mama always turned to for advice and encouragement had passed away. [Update: Alternative memoriam site if first link isn't working.]

Mama kept trying to digest the news as we got in the car and drove home, playing the sea shanties from Mom's service for 3B the whole way. None of the versions we had were right, however, because none had a squeeze box in them. In our lobby, waiting for the elevator, 3B declared that he wanted to hear more "squeeze shanties," making us all laugh.

I know of one woman who looks down on 3B everywhere he goes with humor and unconditional love who might have chuckled over that as we did. And although I didn't know her well enough to speak for her, I'm pretty sure that there's another woman looking down on Mama now, a steel magnolia who is surely proud of how graceful and powerful Mama's work is, and who, in her final words to Mama, reminded her to be confident in her own abilities and that whatever this is, this too shall pass.

And then the door opened and it was time to ride up home and lay our weary bodies down.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What's the word for this?

Yesterday, a friend called looking for some information about a job search they've been forced to undertake. When I picked up, she nicely asked if it was a good time.

I looked away from the swivel aerator I was installing on our new kitchen faucet to peer down the hall to the contractors who were debating removing our toilet to paint behind it as well as pondering the whereabouts of the missing tiles.

I was about to tell them that they were talking too loud on their cell phones and they might wake 3B, who was napping in the next room when our designer walked in, startling Mama, who I hadn't told about her visit.

The designer started peppering Mama with questions about the bathroom, the kitchen, our trip, and so forth as I explained to my friend that I wasn't planning on working from home, but that I had to because 3B couldn't go to school, due to his draining nose, which has caused him to scratch his upper lip until it became one giant sore, and because I had to vote, which took two hours, and because Mama had a conference call, during which I had to be on daddy duty, and because that was followed immediately by a conference call I had to be on, during which Mama was on mommy duty.

As I explained this, I finished making lunch for Mama and myself and stepped out onto the balcony to take the call.

My friend said, "So, is this a good time?"

"Depends on what you mean by 'good.'"

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Now it's your turn

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Waking up with Gene Kelly and a pack of Shiba Inu puppies

I'd like to have five minutes with whoever invented Daylight Saving time. Actually, I'd like an hour with them. Actually, I'd like them to spend an hour with 3B after he gets up at 5:30 a.m., so I can get the rest of the beauty sleep that I so desperately need.

I'm not sure where 3B found the energy, since I'm pretty sure he was still rolling around awake in his crib at about 9 p.m. last night, listening to Mama and me talk to Books & Crackers and her man about clothes and movies (Mama and B&C) and politics (Mr. B&C and me). And yes, Liberal Banana, my language was as clean as that of a drunken sailor in a knife fight.

Speaking of knife fights, I'm glad to report that that hot mess that has been 3B's upper lip has started to clear up as of this morning. It's been a red zone of nasal drip, scratching, and cold sores that's been painful to look at for several days now. The nadir was yesterday, when I had to have Mama bring nail clippers down to us when I had the boys out for a walk since 3B kept scratching open his upper lip.

Oh c'mon, you didn't think that I'd leave out that detail, did you?

Regardless of his appearance, 3B always pops up like hot toast when he wakes up. Although I'm more of a morning person than Mama, I'm pretty sure that 3B didn't get his instant on morning personality from either of us. It's either from my Dad or the nefarious influence of one of his favorite videos, which he called for again this morning, although that could be just because he has something of a crush on, as he says, "Kathy Selvin."

So, tomorrow, as you're waking up one hour too early to go to work, lying there unable to go to sleep, cursing the time change, try watching this to cheer up.

And if that doesn't work, try this.

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

And if that doesn't work, well, I have nothing to help communists wake up.

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