The Power Ballad

There’s something special about a husband-wife created Pandora station that blends two very different, and at times opposing, music styles. And that moment is even more special when the hive mind of Pandora decides to play all husband-music for the entire 45 minute drive.
We were about 15 minutes late to a doctor’s appointment and the stop and go traffic wasn’t helping. Just then, as if Pandora’s settings were set to ‘irony’, a Journey song was queued up on our virtual jukebox and Steve Perry transformed our stressful traffic moment into a Faithfully sing-along (well, at least for me).

“Highway run, into the midnight sun,” I sang to my fellow traffic mates and beyond.

“What is this?!” she said with the disgust of an ungrateful teenage girl.

“Wheels go round and round, you’re on my mind…” I sang louder at her face of revulsion, knowing eventually… love would win.

“Quick!! Who sings this!” I knew it was a hopeless question, but I needed her to not miss this Journey moment.

She rolled her eyes and gazed out onto the slowly moving traffic.  Frustration covered her face.  I could tell she was allowing her awareness of time to rob her of this Faithfully experience.

“I don’t know… Beach Boys.”  She answered flatly, throwing out any random “old man” musician name.  I felt for her… I truly did.

“They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family, right down the line it’s been you and me!”  I stretched out a rock-star-reach-to the-crowd hand, but it was rebuffed.

“No… not Beach Boys… these are men.  And this, my ungrateful little angel, is a power ballad.”

Traffic released its grip for a few seconds… only to lock us in again at the next light.

“What the hell is a power ballad?!”  she exclaimed, using very non-mommy language as the kids weren’t present.

I was taken aback. “You don’t know what a power ballad is?!”

“No.” She glanced at the car clock and back at the slowly moving traffic.  Thanks to an amplifier a previous owner had installed in our mini van, Journey  continued filling our mini van with the energy of a stadium concert.

“A power ballad is an anthem of love that moves you to your core.  It’s got mind-blowing drum and guitar solos.”  I paused to let that sink in.  — It didn’t.   “It’s quite possibly what makes the world go round.”

“Power ballad…” she mused as she tapped on her phone screen.  “That’s an oxymoron.  How can something be a ballad… and be powerful… it’s like reality-tv or child-proof.”

“Very poetic,” I pointed out.  “I can’t explain it, but if you wait for the end of this verse, you’re going to feel the power drum/guitar solo crescendo followed by the lead singer’s voice piercing the night!”

Just then, as if Steve Perry and I were sharing the stadium stage, his voice resonated: Whooa oh oh ooh, whooa oh oh ooh ahhhh!!!

I followed along with my own air guitar and drum solo, raptured by the moment as I played for other cars as they started to mysteriously pass by.

And suddenly, as if a disgruntled neighbor had abruptly pulled the massive power cord from the concert’s energy source, a sharp car horn disturbed me mid-drum solo.  Traffic had finally opened up and it was time to continue on our own Journey into the midnight sun… Faithfully.

feel the power.

Feel free to sing along… it’s hard not to.

Blame it on Milli Vanilli

As the rest of the nation has seen, Florida recently experienced a heavy downpour that left lawns across the state defying suburban mowers everywhere.
One morning during this episode I scanned my overgrown lawnscape, like Batman overlooking Gotham City as the hordes of darkness  advance.  And like those hordes of darkness, the grass taunted me with each drop of rain because it knew it would not be challenged anytime soon. As the unruly gang of green blades and weeds was amassing large numbers for an eventual takeover, I pondered what lied ahead. If the unrelenting rain continued, our trampoline would be irrelevant… my child could just climb the roof, jump and free fall into a small rain forest. My fledgling lemon and orange trees wouldn’t have to worry about making it past infancy because they’d just give into peer pressure and turn into a long blade of swaying grass.

From my vigilante post in the living room, I spoke to no one in particular in my best Batman voice, “The grass is winning… but perhaps it’s the grass I deserve.”

“What?” asks Yarei as she lounges on the couch watching Grey’s Anatomy.

I continued Batmanning.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of unruly grass…  is for good mowers to do nothing.”

“Mmm…” she sipped on her chai tea latte, engrossed in her silly  medical drama while evil was encroaching upon us.  “You may wanna mow that before the HOA does something.”

“The HOA has no jurisdiction here… besides, the words of Milli Vanilli ring true today more than ever,”  I mused; in the distance thunder clapped and lightning lit up the sky.

“Is that a coffee flavor?” she continued sipping and watching.

I Ignored her naiveté and allowed her to live in her safe bubble… for now.  I continued scanning the dark horizon as the heavens poured down their wrath.  “Yes, that’s exactly what i’ll tell the HOA…Blame it on the rain, yeah yeah… ’cause the rain don’t care.

(this is an interactive blog, so go ahead and cue the song below to experience the darkness of the moment).

A Glitch in the Matrix

After a long night of  2 back-to-back  pharmacy runs for a fever-stricken child at 9:30pm, I misplaced the spare key to our home which I used to get in after  Ibuprofen Mission 2.  The next day I searched  for it frantically, knowing that if I allowed its memory to fade  into the back of my brain, I would pay dearly  on some  future “I forgot my key and the  baby needs her  pacifier – now!” incident.  I couldn’t do that to my future-self, so I engaged all my searching power to find the silver key.

Eventually, I put the search-and-rescue mission on hold because we had to leave for another engagement… but I refused to allow its memory to fade away.  I  had driven my Rav4  during the two pharmacy runs, so I knew it was either there or in the “black hole basket” by the front door which contains every random piece of pocket paraphernalia you’re too lazy to properly put away.

We were now in our minivan getting gas.  I was talking to Yarei about not letting me forget to look for the key, when something shiny caught the corner of my eye.  I looked at the floorboard on the passenger side and to my surprise I see… the silver key.

“Look!  There it is!” I exclaimed with   surprised enthusiasm.

“Mmmhmm.” came Yarei’s flat response as she swiped   and tapped on her phone.

“Did you use the key?  How did it end up there?” My mind was grasping  for  the missing pieces in the sequence of last night’s events.

“No” she replied and  snickered at a funny post she read.

I replayed   my mental security cameras once again.  I was certain I had only been in my car and in the house.                                      Unless….

I grabbed her arm to get her attention.  “Yarei… there’s been a glitch in the matrix.  That’s the only explanation as to how the key got to the floorboard on your side.”

“You need me to stitch your what?” she  responded,  her eyebrows  furrowing and a confused look upon her face. Clearly “the machines” were already working on her brain.

“Do you realize what this means?  It means i’ve exposed a glitch in the matrix.  I know the key should not be there, and that the matrix made it appear at your feet by accident. ” I paused, wide-eyed, to see if the severity of the situation was sinking in.

“Yeah, ok.” came her reply as she continued scrolling.

“I don’t think you understand… I’ve exposed an error… something I shouldn’t notice…. I could suddenly disappear at any moment and you need to know why,” I pleaded.  A man walking by  shared my same look of concern.

“Disappear?”  she looked up from her phone, cocked her head to one side and gave a look that was half annoyed, half intrigued.

“YES!” She was finally understanding the cataclysmic consequences to finding the spare key where it shouldn’t be.

She went back to her phone and in an uninterested tone said,

“How much  is on your insurance policy?”



Analogies have never been my wife’s strength.  Now, before I go on I must clarify that my wife is an extremely competent woman with a masters in social work who manages our home with the wit and cunning of a wall street executive and the heart and compassion of Mother Theresa.  Which is why all the neighborhood children call her “Mother Wall Street.”    However, even high power, saintly executives  have their blind spots… and Yarei’s are analogies and 80s-90s name-that-tune challenges.

Recently we were discussing a  heavy meal we had eaten and how stuffed we felt.

“I feel like that one girl in Willy Wonka who turned into a blueberry and got rolled away,” I moaned, sinking into our coach while rubbing my stomach.

“I know!” agreed Yarei…. and if I could peer into the inner workings  of her brain, I would have seen a Chocolate Factory full of minions running back and forth carrying little manila envelopes of information from one lobe to the next.  But there was a problem with the lobe that creates analogies… a short circuit, if you will.  Those minions were bumping into each other frantically and yelling as the mouth was about to speak out its own “i’m so full” analogy.

“I feel like the Heineken blow up doll!” she blurted out.  In the background, the   sound of a vinyl record scratch could be heard. Yarei looked at the ceiling and leaned into the reclining chair while letting out a long breath.

Chaos had erupted in the analogy lobe as one minion slapped the other for obviously sending the wrong manila envelope down the “speech” tube.  No one dared send the “illogical response” message to the frontal lobe, leaving Yarei to believe that what she had just said made complete sense.

“Like the what!?” I sat up, furrowed my brow and tried desperately to understand what she had just said.  My own minions were flipping through every analogy archive available in my brain, but all were left with blank stares and shrugging shoulders.

“Bah…” she responded, annoyed at my ignorance   as she continued rubbing her bloated mid-section.  “You know… the Heineken blow up doll!”she motioned her hands in the outline of a round shape.

Panic engulfed the minion workshop as message tubes from one lobe to the other got entangled leading to wrong  perceptions of reality.  Some started abandoning ship and swimming south for other organs.

My blank stare must have sparked some type of order in her brain as she started to piece what she just said together.

“The big white character…”  she started, slowly.

One minion from a dark corner of the analogy lobe squealed and jumped up while shaking a manila envelope in his right hand.  He started pushing his way to Communication Central with a big grin on his face.

“..that has all those rolls on his body…” each word falling in place like orderly Tetris blocks.

The minion made his way to Communication Central and shoved the envelope into the “speech” tube with a look of triumph followed by spontaneous high fives.

“… they were tires… his body had fat rolls made of tires,” she said, almost as if reminiscing about a long lost memory.

A collective light went on in both our brains as the sound of joy and triumph exploded from our mental minions.

“The… Michelin Man??” I responded  incredulously.

“YES!! That one!” she yelled.

“Yarei… how did come up with…” I paused, thought about the question… “never mind.  Just never mind.”

“What?” she gave me an annoyed look.  “They kinda sound alike… I can see the connection.”  She nodded with a hint of arrogance.  Her brain minions were nodding in sync with her, commenting to each other how it wasn’t that far off.

“Never mind… let’s watch something on Netflix.”  I clicked around and paused on a  possible option.  “How about  the new Star Trek movie?”

“Mmhmm,” came her disinterested response as she flipped through a coupon magazine.                                                          “Beam me up, Spotty.”



Luchadora: Wife, Mother, Mechanic

Every luchador has  his kryptonite, such as radioactive diaper waste and 2 year old parties.  Not so with the luchadoras… they are as versatile as a Swiss Army knife, adapting like the bad terminator in Terminator 2 to any situation (fly away helicopters, runaway cars, and parties in need of ice picks).  Today my luchadora once again displayed her powers of adaptability.

Late  last night  the  LuchaMobile (aka our minivan) suddenly decided that its favorite gear was “neutral” and no jiggling of the gear stick would change that.  So, unless we lived in San Francisco and every place we wanted to go was below us, we would not be using the LuchaMobile any time soon. I had to go to work the next day and was unable to apply my extensive “let’s call the neighbor” mechanic skills, so Yarei was left with only her wits to survive.   However, before I left for work the next morning, I found her, wide-eyed and  scheming in front of the computer at 6:20am.

“What are you doing up?” I  whisper-yelled.

“Thebabywokemeup-I’ve been here  since 3:30 and I figured out how to fix the van! It’s so easy!” she whisper-yelled back, with mad scientist frenzy.

“Please Yarei… just go back to sleep.” I was asking for her own good, but also for the van’s.

“I read on that it’s a simple $10 fix! You just have to replace this ring thing at the end of the shifting cable thing.   I even found some videos!” her excitement was clearly the only thing keeping her awake.

“Ok.  I have to go to work.  Please call the tow truck and ask the neighbor to call his mechanic friend… and go to sleep.” I implored,  not knowing what I was leaving behind.

Later on I was in a meeting at school when Yarei called. I stepped out, not knowing what  I was about to learn.

“Is everything ok?  What happened with–”

“LOUIE!  I can’t do it… I can’t fix the van!” She exclaimed, like a tragic Greek heroine whose city had just been ravaged   by  Persians.

My thoughts raced to a disassembled van in the garage with my children  in the midst of the parts, using them as a space fort.

“What happened? What do you mean? Did you call the tow truck?!”

“The part I have to access is near the gas pedal area, but  I can only get so far down there with the baby strapped to me.  I was so close!”

“It’s ok… just step away and put any tools down, slowly” I whispered, hostage-negotiator style.

“If I had more time … and less children… i’d be able to do it… I just know it!” she  exclaimed, confident in her budding mechanic abilities.

“But,” she continued, “I spoke with the tow truck guy and he said it was  the exact same problem I had originally diagnosed.  Mhm.” she added her trademark ‘i-may-not-be-sure-but-i-sound-like-i-am’ phrase.

“Does that get us a discount?”

“No… but  it does mean i’ll be ready next time.”


Marital Kombat

During our nighttime routine of cleaning the kitchen and enjoying the peace that comes from  sleeping children,  Yarei and I started reminiscing about our dating days.

“Remember  when we were dating and things started getting serious… and then I got scared and tried to break up  with you?”  Yarei said while storing her favorite paprika in the spice cupboard.

“Ahh yes… you  were a silly little girl.  Didn’t know what you were doing.  You  were  like Subzero trying to hide behind an ice shield… but I was like Scorpion and I threw out my harpoon of defiance and yelled  ‘Get Over Here!” I acted out the deathly move with precision and skill, extending my arm toward her unsuspecting torso.   “Fatality!” I yelled, acting out an upper cut followed by arms overhead in a victorious stance.

“Yeah,” she mused, while screwing on the  Allspice  cap which had come loose.   “Why didn’t you do a babality?”

I dropped my harpoon in amazement and awe.

“Wow… you know what a babality is?” I said, eyes wide open.

“Pshh… yeah.  That’s when they turned the opponent into a baby,” she said, matter of factly as she placed the nutmeg squarely between the cinnamon and sugar and went about her cleaning way. “Remember, I know about Mortal Kombat, Battle Toads, Tetris, Mario Bros and Sonic… don’t doubt my powers.”  she warned, waving the pepper shaker  menacingly.  I could almost see ice shards flying out of the holes where innocent pepper flecks would normally be.

I was still in shock .

Subzero… wins (now come change my diaper).


iPhone induction

Yarei’s idea of user-friendly technology is a cross between a dial-up modem and solar-powered calculator. Don’t trouble her with downloads, uploads or overloads… she’ll just roll her eyes at you and make you feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about (although she has no idea what you’re talking about).
After her faithful Samsung Galaxy s2 crossed into the galaxy beyond, she was reduced to an old-school, fiery red clamshell phone from her pre smart phone days. After just 10 minutes with her “new” phone, she sang the praises of the clamshell and how it was better than any other fancy phone… especially since it was fiery red. No complicated settings or apps, just simple, straight forward buttons and clear menus. “I don’t need any of those fancy phones!” She raised her fist in defiance of modernism and status quo.  Three weeks later, a friend of hers generously promised her an iPhone 4. Now, many of you iGeeks may laugh with contempt at this older phone, but for Yarei, this is a jump from a Big Wheels tricycle to a fancy moped.
The day finally came when her iPhone was given to her. Not being the type to tinker with technology, she just passed it on to me like a hot potato and excitedly yelled “Set it up, Louie!” It was her Christmas morning.
Since I wanted the phone to be set according to Yarei standards, I asked her what type of settings she wanted.

“Do you want me to set up an iCloud account? What about the iCloud key chain?… and the i—”

While perusing the internet, she held up her index finger and simply said, “Shh shh.  Too much tech talk. Just do whatever.”

After the initial setup was done, I realized I would not be able to transfer her phone contacts via gmail. Still under the iSpell of iExcitement, she said, “IT’S OK!! As people call me, i’ll add them to my contacts!”

“Yeah, but then you’ll get that one person that calls that you don’t want to talk to at the moment and you’ll have to say ‘Ooops… I didn’t know this was you.”

She ignored my social cynicism.  “I can also copy them manually from one phone to the other!!”  (all 200 plus)  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that in order to do that, the same SIM card would have to be in two different phones  (Either way, she’d just roll her eyes and say “pshhh… you don’t know what you’re talking about.”)

Like a baby with a new mobile in her crib, she proceeded to swipe and tap and click on her new phone.  After one click of the camera, she exclaimed, “Oooo… it takes the quick pictures.. and has a cool shutter effect!”

“Mmmhhm,” I said as I perused over the phone specs online.  I’ve always been of the belief that all Apple products are part of the Terminator 2 Skynet Corporation that will one day turn on their users (starting with the trendy, beret-donning, skinny-fit-jean-wearing, hipsters using iPads while sipping lattes at Starbucks).

“That’s it Louie,” she said, decisively. “After ten minutes with my iPhone, i’ve decided this is the best phone ever. You need to go buy one.  Now.”

“You should be in those infomercials that air at 3am that use paid actors to say how wonderful their products are.  Like the shamwow guy.      I remember you raving about the clamshell pho–”

“Shhh…” she interrupted. “That was then, this is now.  I’m not going back to  Android… and i’m not going back to the clamshell. Get with it… this     is     an     iPhone.”  She said slowly, to add emphasis to her new allegiance.  In the distance, Skynet laughed a sinister laugh.

Arnold, where are you?

Catch Phrase

The holidays are full of fast paced, action packed, misquotable gaming opportunities.  Ours was no exception.

During a recent bout of the latest incarnation of Catch Phrase: Decades, players get to choose a category of words from either the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s.   Once you choose your category, words from that decade pop up on a disc and your team must guess the word without you saying it, then quickly pass the disc on to the next team.  Whoever gets stuck with the disc at the buzzer loses. The setup so far almost guarantees a Suburban Luchador moment.

We tried the 10’s first because we figured we all “live in the now”, so we would all do well.  However, after struggling with phrases like “Swagger Wagon” and realizing we’re not as much “in the now” as wed’ like to think, we switched to the more friendly 80’s.

The round began.  The ticking clock starts off with a slow methodical beat which approaches a faster, frantic rhythm as time runs out.  The disc is being past deftly from one person to another as words like “Dan Quayle”, “Pepsi Free”, “Mohawk” are being described and guessed left and right. The disc lands in Brett’s hands.  The clock has approached frantic level and only seconds are left before the buzzer goes off. Yarei leans in with a look of intensity, like Joan of Arc about to go to battle. Brett begins describing with clipped phrases: Michael Jackson song! About fighting! Two words 5 letters then 2! In the same breath, Yarei jumps from her seat, toppling some Wise Men fruit cake in her wake, and screams “PUNCH ME!”.  BZZZZ!!!!  A broad smile on her face as she believes she got the point at the buzzer… only to see the look of disbelief on her teammates faces.   “Close… it was ‘Beat it’ ”

Undaunted at her defeat, she ignores the recent loss. “It’s ok team,” she says, jogging in place and shrugging her shoulders… “shake it off… we’ll get them in this round.”  The clocks starts again for the final round: tick… tick… tick….

“Spaceballs!” “Indiana Jones!” “DeLorean!” were featured screams from the next round.  The clock sped up – tickticktick – as the buzzer approached.  Again, the disc landed in Brett’s hand at the last few seconds. Using short breaths to save time he spouted “E.T said this in movie!”

Like a lion pouncing on its prey, Yarei launched into action. 2 seconds left on the timer.  It was one of those slow motion moments where the ball is shot from half court and everyone is staring intently…

“E.T     GO      HOME!”

A “SWISH!” in her victorious mind followed by fist pumps as the buzzer ends the round.

I love my wife’s indomitable spirit.

May we all find our inner Yarei of Arc in 2015.


live die repeat

After a long day of family and Christmas events, Yarei in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled down to a long nighttime chat.

When all of the sudden, there arose such a clatter,
I jumped out of the lazy boy to see what was the matter.

“I’m going to change the decorations in this house!”
Declared Yarei, with a riotous fist pointed at her spouse.

You see, when it comes to decor, it’s usually my show
Until Yarei’s spark ignites, then it’s gonna blow.

“I want family, and color and love on our wall!
“Over the door… a pink waterfall!”

“Ok, i’m done talking in rhymes. You can make changes; let’s just stay away from cliche stuff. No ‘live, laugh, love’ words on the wall. Besides, what’s everybody laughing about? Do all those ‘live, laugh, love’ people get the same joke?”

“Your suggestions are noted, and I will comply
Only make it something catchy to my eye.”

“What about the words ‘Live, Die, Repeat’ on the wall?”

“Like that Tom Cruise ‘groundhog day meets Aliens’ movie?”

“The movie has the same catch phrase… but it would make for an intriguing spin on the usual “live, laugh, love.      Live… Die… Repeat.” I pondered out loud, framing a space on the wall with my fingers.

“I don’t think that’s very meaningful” she said, ignoring my idea and plotting her rainbow over the door.

“I suppose it isn’t… unless this were a Hindu home.”

Off the Grid

Post baby-bedtime  gives our home a “Cheers-like” atmosphere.  You’re surrounded by good friends, it’s always happy hour, and random, off-beat conversations flow like the salmon of Capistrano.

Last night was no exception as Yarei kicked back on the couch, propped up her tired feet, and cracked open a La Croix raspberry seltzer water.

“Ahhhh” she released a sigh of relief from a warrior mom that just completed another tour of duty.  “Good teamwork today, Louie.   Let’s dream a little…”

“Ok” I said.

“What do you think about getting a big piece of land and starting a farm?” she asked.

“I don’t wear overalls.”

“Just think about it,” her eyes grew big and dreamy.  “We could raise our own animals and grow our own food!”

“Yarei… we can barely keep our spice plants alive in the back yard.  In fact.. out of the three, one died, one is alive and taking over the neighbors yard, and the third one morphed into some type of weed-spice plant hybrid.”

“Hey, two out of three isn’t bad.”

“Ok, so we start a farm, and 33% of it dies the first year.  That’s not farming… that’s planticide.”

“Bahh… you’re thinking too small, Louie.  You gotta dream big! Wouldn’t you like to have a big plot of land away from it all.  No need to depend on others for food… we would be completely off the grid.”

“Do you know what ‘off the grid’ means?”

She rolled her eyes.   “Psshhh… yeah.  It means ‘off the grid’.”

“You didn’t answer me.”

“Louie” she takes a deep breath, trying to be patient with my ignorance.  “Maps have lines.”   She proceeds to make north-south lines in the air with her hands.  “Some lines go north, some go south.”

“Yes… longitude and latitude.”

“Exactly.  When you’re off the grid, you’re not on those lines.”

“Ok, so living on a farm means you’re not on those lines?  I don’t think that’s what ‘off the grid’ means.”

“Well… in our farm, it would.”