Monday, May 31, 2004

Holiday weekend: part 2

Today was Misty's last day before she returns to work from maternity leave. I also had the day off, so we tried to pack in as much adventure as we could. Unfortunately, Emily was fussy in the morning, so we weren't able to get going for a while. We'd planned to go to the Alabama Jubilee again, this time with Misty's cousins, but both of them ended up cancelling. Since it was raining and we'd just been to the festival two days earlier, we figured heading to Decatur again was a bad idea, so we scrambled looking for something else to do.

When we finally escaped the house, we went to Best Buy. Misty had bought a CD there a couple weeks earlier that Circut City had advertised $4 less today. Best Buy will refund the difference if you find the same product advertised cheaper within 30 days of your purchase, so we got a little money back. They'll also honor competitor's prices, so since Circuit City had all their CDs regularly priced $10.99-$13.99 on sale for $10, we pilfered Best Buy's far superior selection of music.

With Pete Yorn and Maroon 5 coming through the car stereo, we returned to Cullman, since Aunt Wanda had already planned to watch Emily again for the day, and we didn't want to disappoint her.

Misty and I had earlier discussed at length our following predicament. Where were we going to go next? We'd just been to Huntsville and Decatur. Chattanooga was too distant a drive. And it seemed crazy to turn around and drive right back to Birmingham. We ended up opting for Huntsville. We went to the movies and saw "The Day After Tomorrow," then had dinner at O'Charley's. If that doesn't sound like an exciting date to you, that's because you don't have a two-month-old baby with colic. I know it sounds crazy that we made a 200-mile round trip for dinner and a movie, but it was worth it. We had fun on our date, and we enjoyed a rare opportunity to talk on the drive.

Emily was reported to have had another good day. There were even claims that she had a bath without crying. I'm not about to believe that, but Aunt Wanda can make up whatever stories she wants if she's enabling us to take a break.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Bad news / good news

I haven't mentioned here yet about something big that's been weighing on my mind over the past couple weeks. Misty's mom has been diagnosed with cancer. Worse, it's something that's bothered her since November, but she didn't want to "be a burden," so she's just continued in pain for several months without seeing a doctor until now. Next week, she's having a hysterectomy to try to remove the cancer. According to the doctors, this procedure is successful 90% of the time, so we're trying not to worry unnecessarily.

Our big worry though has been with money. It's the same reason Misty's mom didn't act immediately when she was in pain. She doesn't have medical insurance, and she doesn't make anywhere near enough money at her job to be able to afford such a major medical procedure. While she's out of work recovering from the surgery, she won't have any income at all. She doesn't want the financial burden to fall on her daughter, even though Misty and I wouldn't hesitate to help her. I told frankly that, yes, it is going to be tough for us. We can't afford it either, especially since Misty's been out of work for two months. But whatever burden it would be, it wouldn't be as bad as having Misty lose her mother and Emily growing up without knowing one of her grandmothers.

This evening, however, we got some relieving news. UAB has approved Misty's mom for financial aid. She isn't going to have to pay for one bit of her surgery. In fact, she'll be able to take advantage of their services for any non-elective procedures for the next year. This turn of events has lifted a big weight off of our minds. Likewise, it's helped Misty's mother feel significantly less worried.

Holiday weekend: part 1

After work Saturday, Misty and I packed in the car and headed out of town. Emily has made a new improvment in her mood that we didn't recognize for a few days. She doesn't scream in the car so much anymore — at least, not while the car is moving. At red lights, however, all hell breaks loose from the back seat, but it's a small concession in the grand scheme of peace and quiet.

We dropped Emily off with Aunt Wanda in Cullman, and Misty and I continued up to Huntsville. We hung out at Haven for an hour or so while I visited friends and bought some books. I was pleased to see so many people in the store — a good sign that they're doing well. I was annoyed, however, to see the huge new selection of miniatures and other gaming supplements in stock. If they had the money to order all that shit, why did it take them more than seven months to pay me? (And when I say "they," you know I'm not talking about you, Josh). It was also sad to see the disasterous understocking of comics as a result of a recent business deal theft.

Yancey met up with us at Haven, and the three of us went out for an early dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in Madison that was pretty good, considering that I've never really cared for Mexican food. As we were finishing our meal, someone walked by our table, said hello to Yancey, and continued to the front counter. It was my ex-wife. As she stood at the register, we noticed her trying to catch glances at our table as she hid behind her friend. I was pleased to see that she looked like hell. Misty was too. She found the episode terribly amusing.

After dinner, we said goodbye to Yancey and headed off to Decatur for the Alabama Jubilee. We'd tried to go last year, but rain had prevented any balloons from taking off. This time, however, the weather was gorgeous, and the hot air balloons were plentiful. We took loads of pictures and even got to take a brief ride up in a balloon. As the sun set, the balloons lit up the landscape like giant, colorful lanters. The whole event was wonderful fun.

We picked Emily up on the way home to learn that she'd had a good day too. She took her bottles without much fuss and even had a bath. Aunt Wanda has been so much help with taking care of her, and it was great to be able to escape our responsibilities for a day.

Friday, May 28, 2004

She loves me, she loves me not

In the ongoing battle of Emily vs. Dad and the bottle, last night's feeding went remarkably well. We sat outside in the swing and Emily drank one ounce of milk with zero ounces of fuss. After finishing her bottle, she continued to chew and suck on it for 15 minutes or so. I know you're not supposed to let a baby suck on an empty bottle, but I didn't want to do anything to risk disturbing the tranquility. Emily fell asleep hugging my chest, and we sat outside until the dogs started to get really antsy for dinner.

Unfortunately, the quiet didn't last. Misty was out getting her hair done and had told me to expect her back in about an hour and a half. Because she was planning to be gone for such a short time, I assumed the single bottle with only one ounce of milk would carry us through. Things didn't go as planned, however.

Apparently, pregnancy can do something weird to a woman's hormones causing hair coloring to go awry. Misty encountered this problem last night at the salon. The stylist tried to undo the orange that she'd just added to Misty's hair by applying blonde highlights. It sort of worked. But Misty ended up being gone for more than twice her estimated time. Emily was not amused, and for more than an hour, and at great volume, she told me about how miserable life was without her mother.

Ignore the law of fear

According to Chicken Little Attorney General John Ashcroft there's an increased risk of terrorist attacks this weekend. I'm dubious.
Current terror alert level:
Terror Alert Level

If the Department of Homeland Security tells us there's a good chance of terror attacks, and then nothing happens, they can claim that they've done their job in keeping the country safe. How would we know if they've really thwarted terrorism?

Let's suppose their claim is accurate. What are are we, the public, going to do about it? Be on the lookout for suspicious activity? Stay at home and pray we don't get blown up? All they're doing is fueling fear.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Emily's music of choice

On two seperate car rides yesterday, Emily was quiet as I played "Disintegration." I think she likes The Cure.

The same thing happened when I played some Marilyn Manson (yes, what a horrible parent I am) last week. My plan was simply to drown out her screaming, but when the music started, she quit (I'm imagining Ultimate Josh's evil chuckle of glee).

Not any old music will calm her down though. She screamed through Dido and Angie Aparo, but she listened contently to No Doubt and the "50 First Dates" soundtrack. The other day, we had the radio on as she was screaming — she got quiet the moment a Goo Goo Dolls song started playing and resumed her screams the moment it ended.

I'm anxious to see what happens when I play "The Head on the Door" for her. She may like The Cure, but the song "The Baby Screams" could set her off.

Emily among the flowers

Yesterday afternoon, Misty and I took Emily to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Apparently, it is the place to go if you've got a baby. It seemed like every third person there was pushing a stroller. I assume the other parents' thinking was along the same lines as ours: Not only are the Gardens a lovely place to visit, but because entry is free, you're not out a handful of money if you have to make an early exit when your baby decides to throw a screaming fit ten minutes in.

Captain Fuss miraculously slept through the whole outing, clinging to Misty in her Snugli. We filled the digital camera's memory card to capacity before rain forced us to head home.

CrossGen's unraveling

For the two people who read my blog who actually care about this sort of thing, there's a great bit in Lying in the Gutters this week about the fall of CrossGen. Basically, Rich sifts through 10 pages worth of comments on a Broken Frontier message board and pulls out the really juicy bits from Ron Marz, Andrea DiVito, Drew Geraci, Andy Smith, and Scot Eaton.

I agree with what the creators are saying. CrossGen had a lot of good ideas, but they had a lot of bad ones too. Their problem was that they were always too stubborn to admit when something wasn't working. They'd beat a bad idea into the ground with their marketing. Not only that, they tried to market every conceivable option before they'd firmly established the earlier ones. That's what killed most of the early Image books. Like them or not, "Spawn" and "Savage Dragon" are still going because McFarlane and Larsen didn't launch spin-off after spin-off in the early stages.

CrossGen marketed their outlandish concepts as innovative and said their competitors were dinosaurs slugging along with old ideas. But it was arrogant for them to assume that they were the only company to have thought of such things before. Marvel and DC have been around a while, and they're still around because they've been using a formula that works. CrossGen didn't just try a different approach, they also insisted that the old approach was no longer relevant.

It reminds me of when other people stepped in to take over Haven. They thought they could suddenly "fix" everthing with radical new ideas. The thing was, Haven was never broken. We'd been steadily building a customer base each month since we'd opened. The reason we needed help was not because we were floundering, but because Josh and I both worked full-time jobs. New management, however, assumed they had the answer to our "problems." Surely we'd never considered their brilliant ideas. They stepped in and implemented changes that we told them had already proven failures, and it was no surprise to us when the same ideas failed again.

When we first opened the store, Josh and I agreed that we shouldn't get into games and toys and trading cards and posters and whatnot. We didn't want to spread ourselves thin. We stuck with comics, because we did comics well. Our marketing strategy was always to offer our shop as an alternative to what was already available. We had sofas and recliners where we encouraged customers to sit and read. We focused heavily on trade paperbacks (which we could readily restock) instead of pushing expensive back issues (which we'd have to hunt down at conventions or other stores to replace). The thing we never did was claim to be better than the other stores in town. We were simply something different.

CrossGen actually had the audacity to claim that they'd beat DC and Marvel. And not just privately in their offices — I heard Mark Alessi make such claims boldy at convention panels. When they should have been concentrating on besting Dark Horse and Image, they instead set goals they could never reach. And they sounded stupid saying that they would.

Now CrossGen has almost completely fallen apart, yet they're still clinging to the notion that they're going to stage a come-back. The thing is, they were never there in the first place. They could have been if they'd paced themselves better. At this point, though, CrossGen's PR has become insulting in its implausibility.

I'd love to see the last couple "Meridian" trades come out, but I'm not counting on it.

Friday, May 14, 2004

The thrills of my life

I haven't posted much in the past week, so I wanted to try and give a quick recap of what's been going on during the past few days.

Tuesday: Misty had been nagging reminding me for a couple weeks to attach some hooks on the back porch so she could hang her potted plants, wind chimes, and giant rusty beetle-looking thing. I got that done early in the morning, and Misty declared that the porch project is finally finished. Of course, next week she'll have something else planned, but it looks great out there now.

After hanging up the plants, I set about digging holes in the yard so she could plant even more stuff. My first attempted hole was nearly impossible to dig, as the ground was solid rock about four inches down. Nevertheless, Misty insisted on planting someting there. She tried to convince me that the shovel I was using wasn't good enough, but I knew very well that nothing short of a jackhammer was going to get through that rock (my next-door neighbor had the same problem last year, and he showed me his pick axe that had been bent 90°). The next hole was much easier to make. I dug down more than a foot before I started reaching rock. Then, of course, Misty told me that she'd only needed about a six-inch hole. My third hole fell somewhere in between the first two. It was full of rocks, but at least it wasn't solid rock. I was able to dig around them.

Having earned a break, I watched "Love Actually" with Emily. She was fairly quiet during the movie. I only had to stop and walk around with her a couple of times. The movie was cute — just the sort of romantic fluff that I enjoy.

Wednesday: I got up early in an attempt to get some chores done before Emily had a chance to cause any distractions. Unfortunately, Misty had the same idea, so she handed the baby off to me while she went outside for more planting. I headed to the post office with Emily, who was none too happy to be in the car.

Next on the agenda was Wal-Mart, so I could finally get some digital pictures printed and sent to my family like I've been promising them for seven weeks now. Between the post office and Wal-Mart, Emily was surprisingly quiet, but a couple minutes into the gargantuan retail paradise, she started fussing. I tried to juggle the photo printing machine and swinging the baby in her car seat, but after about 15 minutes, it was too much to concentrate. I went home frustrated.

Early in the afternoon, Misty and I got back in the car for a trip up to Cullman. On the way, we stopped by Wal-Mart again. My theory was: With Misty to keep the baby occupied, I could take care of printing the photos. After 15 minutes of selecting the pictures and quanties I wanted (I had a disk of 200 photos) the woman at the photo counter came over and said, "Y'all aren't tryin' to print pictures, are you?" (No, we're trying to buy potato chips. Why won't this damned snack machine work?!) She continued, "because that machine's out of paper." I wanted to punch her. She'd let me stand there for 15 minutes with a crying baby twice that day, and was only now informing me that the machine wasn't working. To hell with Wal-Mart.

The trip to Cullman was enjoyable. By that, I mean that actually being in Cullman and visiting with Misty's relatives was enjoyable. The actual trip was a test of our patience and the limits of our eardrums. The ride home was the same, only this time we got the added bonus of driving through a thunderstorm.

When we got home, I found an envelope in the mailbox from Haven with the last of their payments. Hallelujah! It was only seven months late.

Thursday: I had a good day at work. My editor suggested I put together a summer movie guide, so I spent all day working on that. It was a fun project.

When I got home I tried to watch "Solaris," which I'd checked out from the library, but Emily had other ideas. She screamed enough to make me cut it off after about 40 minutes, but the movie was terribly boring anyway.

Kind of like this post.

Good reading

I won't even mention his name here because I honestly don't want traffic from people searching for that video. But you know what I'm talking about.

I haven't watched it, and I'm not going to. Same reason I didn't watch Mel Gibson's torture epic. I have no desire to subject myself to such horror.

Everyone is reflecting on it in some way or another, but most of the analyses have said nothing to me — just a bunch of spouting off. Hubie, however, captures it perfectly.

The new regime

I feel like an ass-kisser whenever I link to Jeff Jarvis's blog. You see, he's my boss' boss' boss (or something like that). Nevertheless, I can't resist passing along this gem.
The people have news judgment. And it beats the judgment of many an editor.

The people have their own newspaper now. And you're looking at it.

I'm pleased to work for a company where the guy in charge gets it.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Before they've hatched

Emily woke up in a good mood on Tuesday, and there was much smiling. She didn't fuss when I changed her diaper or when I put her in a new outfit.

But the morning was barely underway when Misty informed me we had to leave in 30 minutes for an appointment with a daycare center. The problem with this is that we can't both get ready at the same time. Someone has to occupy Emily, or her head might explode. So I sat on the floor of the kitchen with a bowl of cereal in my hands and my feet propped on Emily's bouncy seat, shoveling down breakfast as I tried to keep her entertained. It didn't work. The screaming began.

When Misty finished getting ready, she ran downstairs and tagged me so she could take over with the baby while I tired to put on clean clothes, brush my teeth, and shave with about 2 minutes to spare.

Leaving only 10 minutes late, Emily continued her screeching in the car. She doesn't like riding in the car, so all you "experts" who've told me to strap her in her car seat and put her on the washing machine can just shut up. Then again, Emily doesn't like much of anything that involves being awake. The screeching lasted all the way to the daycare (which took longer to get to than anticipated because of a major accident on I-459).

At the daycare, Emily quieted down. She's always quiet around other people because she wants to make us look like liars. True to form, she started right back up when we left and screamed all the way to the next daycare.

When we left the second daycare, though, something miraculous happened. Emily fell asleep. Not wanting such a grand opportunity go to waste, Misty and I took a chance and turned down Hwy. 150 in search of someplace to eat. We chose Cheeburger Cheeburger because we figured we could escape quickly, should Emily decide to wake up and cause a scene. She didn't, though. A few times as we ate, she woke up, took a look around, and went back to sleep. It was glorious.

Drunk on freedom, Misty and I didn't stop after lunch. We went to Hallmark! Misty picked out Mother's Day cards, but I was getting nervous. Surely this kid couldn't stay asleep much longer. She proved me wrong, though. After Hallmark, we stopped by Blockbuster and picked up a few movies.

At that point, we realized that it was well past noon, and we were supposed to have been home by 11, when the service people were coming to fix our air conditioner. To hell with them! We have a sleeping baby! What do they expect us to do? Sit at home and wait for the dogs to bark and wake her up?

Despite our disappointment, we nevertheless headed home. Emily stayed sleeping when I brought her inside, when the dogs came downstairs to sniff and lick her, and when the air conditioner guy showed up. I suggested to Misty that we wake her up and feed her since she'd not eaten for about five hours. But Misty would have none of that. Instead, we watched one of the movies we'd rented (Big Fish). Emily didn't wake up until part way through the movie, and even then, we were able to feed her and keep her quiet until it finished. Later on, we even watched another movie (Stuck on You) with no fussing!

Misty told me repeatedly that this was Emily's best day ever. Nevermind that she'd screamed for nearly an hour straight as we got ready and drove to the daycare. We got to eat a meal in a restaurant and watch two movies! We even flirted with the idea that maybe her colic was on the way out. Maybe our little girl really is getting better!

Then Wednesday arrived. Wednesday was Emily's way of saying, "Oh you naïve little people.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

So last night Misty and I were watching TV, and there's an ad on for some SUV or truck or something. The truck mistakenly drives into the arena of a monster truck rally, and the monster truck that is in the process of trashing all the other vehicles is somehow destroyed when it faces off against the advertised truck.

Misty turns to me and asks, "Have you ever been to one of those things?"

Me: "What? A monster truck rally?"

Misty: "Yeah."

Me: "No... Why? Have you?"

Misty: "I've been to two or three."

Me: Hahahahahahahahaha!

OK, now if Misty had admited to having been dragged to a monster truck rally once, or if she'd gone once out of a perverted curiosity, I'd think nothing of it. But she said she'd been two or three times!

She insists she's not a fan, but I know what we're doing next Valentine's Day.

Monday, May 03, 2004


The moment I sat down at my desk at work this morning, the phone rang. It was Misty. She sounded very excited, but I couldn't tell yet whether it was in a good or bad way. She told me that I needed to come home — that I should suddenly get sick or something. It seems that Emily is smiling responsively, and Misty is enjoying every moment of it.