Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Question: Am I Missing Something?

A bit of Friday Question algebra here.

"Everyone seems to be crazy about x, but I just can't seem to get into it."

What does x equal?

This could be a band, a movie, a food, an author, a city, a political figure, anything you like. Or rather anything you DON'T like but everyone else in the world seems to like a lot and it makes you wonder, "Am I missing something here? It's not THAT good." So it's kind of like I'm On To You but with more insecurity. Like it's something you know you SHOULD like but you just can't seem to do it. How can the world be in love with it and you're not? Is there something wrong with you? Or are you right and millions of other people are wrong?

For me:
x = Radiohead. Tried. Tried again. Can't. Everyone calls them the most important band ever. I wonder why it just doesn't work for me.
x = Gourmet cupcakes. They must be fantastic if they're a whole industry. Just taste like cupcakes.
x = Massage.

So: What does x equal?

No need to elaborate if you don't wish but please answer in the form of algebra: "x =" and then your answer.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All I Need Is A Truck To Drive Through Those Holes

Lately, I've become very interested in flawed security systems. There are measures in place to protect children or employees or air travelers that are well intentioned but just completely unworkable. But unlike most unworkable products, they persist anyway. I think it's a testament to the intention being more important than the relatively smaller threat of whatever danger they're supposed to present. There's the classic "small amount of liquid" at the airport thing, of course, but I've noticed several equally dunderheaded measures in day to day life.

1. During this family leave, I've been volunteering a bit at my son's school. When I go in, I am supposed to go to the office, which is kind of tucked away, in order to sign in. Nothing makes me do this, I just know that that's what's done. Once there, I sign my name (illegibly like all others) and write down why I'm there. Then I write my name on a sticker, affix it to my shirt and walk away. No one checks ID, no one makes eye contact. I could sign nothing and make up a reason ("Amway sales", "fistfight") and write THREAT on the sticker. It would not make a difference. The system is in place today.

2. At another school I'm familiar with, parents are asked to sign their children out when picking them up at the end of the day. But there's often a big line around the single notebook used for this purpose and so most parents don't bother. Those that do might wonder why they bother. The system is in place today, as far as I know.

3. When I worked at Amazon in the late 90s, the company did not yet have real security badges (too busy taking over the world and hiring me for jobs I was unqualified to do). So they gave us pieces of construction paper with our names on it. We were expected to hold these up to poorly paid inattentive security guards as we walked past. Sometimes, often, the guards would be across the lobby and would yell, "Can I see your badge?" and we'd hold them up even though nothing could be checked or verified. We could be holding up any piece of blue paper in the world. This system is not in place today but it was in place at one time.

There are creeps and bad parents who have been denied custody but try to get it anyway and corporate spies and disgruntled employees in the world. And they must be stopped. But there are a thousand really stupid security systems in place that actually make things worse and make it harder to stop bad folks because they fool people who should be in control of the situation into thinking that security is under control when it is absolutely not.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Question: About That Movie

Okay, so the producers called. They've had some new thoughts.*

Making a movie about your whole life would be difficult. The casting, the locations, the research of it all. Too much. Instead, they want to make a movie about your week. Starting last Saturday and going in to today. There's no script yet, we'll get to that later they say, but they want to talk genre so they can get the right screenwriter and director lined up. Was your week a buddy comedy? A French tragedy? A coming of age sex romp?

If it was MY movie (and it's not, it's yours), I would describe the genre of my week as a bittersweet domestic comedy. Not laugh out loud screwball type, just ordinary people presented with the challenge or dramatic conflict of this new baby and adjusting to that. The characters adapt, maneuver around each other. More dramatic tension is brought when one of the kid characters insists he's sick but the dad sends him to school and then the kid barfs in class but he's oddly proud of that. Meanwhile the dad has never been home from work this long in his life and needs to adjust to that. The baby screams a little but mostly just looks gravely concerned all the time. There's also the triumphant bike riding scene, the possibility that new friends for the parents have emerged, and the rather tedious shopping for pants scene that didn't really need to be in the movie at all, actually. No tragedies, no thrilling capers, just a bittersweet domestic comedy.

But again, it's not my movie, it's yours. So the question is:

In the movie of the past week of your life, what is the genre?

And don't worry, you don't have to elaborate if you don't want. Just say, like, "Tragic adventure made by Belgians" or something and leave it at that if you want. More mysterious anyway.

And congrats to Team Rowley!


* This is something I often heard during some very abstract, preliminary, and disorienting talks last fall about Conservatize Me film rights. These talks happened and don't get excited because they happen all the time with tons of books. The movie has not happened. Nor has world peace or a Mariners world series title. I give them all equal odds.


Also, I've changed comment moderation so that I don't have to approve them. Most comments are just fine. Just don't swear and get all gross and don't be mean. Common sense. Pretend you're at a dinner party.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Things to say

Sometimes I just don't have the energy to work up a whole cogent post especially when I have three children who enjoy stomping on my energy level.

1. I added a feed from Twitter over there on the right. It allows you to see brief glib things I have to say. As I flood the world with words you can see if I somehow get more trenchant.

2. Highlight on Twitter today. I posted a comment: "Why can't the Mac and the PC both be friends with the Panasonic video camera?" To which John Hodgman then replied, "because that guy is an ass." And we all know who John Hodgman is. Which means, that's right, I got my own little private Apple commercial there, didn't I?

3. Today, a trip to the mall.
JILL: That mall wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be. It wasn't that bad of a mall. Or that good of a mall.
JOHN: It was a mall. We could have been anywhere. Nothing actually just happened.

4. On Saturday, Charlie Moe got an idea. He figured he could go out in the front yard, find some cool looking rocks, and then sell those rocks to passers by. He found a cardboard box which became his counter and desk. For pricing, he thought, well maybe $8.95 for a set of rocks. I suggested 25 cents per rock. Jill suggested selling perhaps some lemonade, her silent reasoning being in agreement with my sentiment: AIN'T NO ONE GONNA BUY ROCKS! Well, by the end of two hours, he had sold ten bucks in rocks. Everyone was buying rocks. One lady had no change so she gave him five bucks. He paid his sister/assistant manager two bucks, bought some donuts, and saved the rest. He sold rocks that were already on the ground. They were at these people's feet. But Charlie is charming.

5. We have some fancy cable at the rental house. Fancier than I'm used to. Not like HBO fancy but channels like MSNBC. And here's the thing: I thought MSNBC was like CNN or Fox News and had news on all the time. But after a certain point in the evening, it's just prison documentaries all night long. Straight on until morning. Every night. And...wha?


Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Question

Congratulations! Hollywood Pictures is making a movie of your life. We'll get to things like casting, treatment, genre, and musical score later. But short term there is a more pressing issue: toy tie-in. A little giveaway item to promote the film version of you. Available with any meal. Production needs to get started right away.

Your job is to design the toy. WHAT DOES THE TOY FROM THE MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE LOOK LIKE AND WHAT DOES IT DO? Keep in mind it needs to be pretty simple and cheap. Still, it should capture the essence of you, or at least the you character from the film. And please describe how the toy is played with. BONUS QUESTION: At which restaurant is your toy distributed?

I'll go first:
The toy me is seated on a couch with a laptop computer. The computer screen is blank. Above my head is a plastic thought balloon saying "DEADLINES!!" in creepy gloomy letters. Around the couch are children in pajamas who are not going to bed. When you pull a little lever, my hand reaches up to my hair and pulls on it in stressed out fashion while the pajamaed children punch each other in the head.
The toy is available only at Paseo, a Caribbean restaurant in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. Negotiations to distribute it at Dixie's in St Paul fell through.

So once more:
At which restaurant is your toy distributed?


Monday, May 12, 2008

Cheers created by Kate (age 5) in support of her brother Charlie (age 7) as she watches him ride his scooter

Charlie Charlie, he's the man!
He can do it, he's the best!

Charlie Charlie, he's the best!
He can fight, he's the best!

Charlie Charlie he's the winner!
He can win two trophies!

Charlie Charlie he's the winner!
Trophy two, trophy he!

Charlie Charlie he's the man!
He can win three trophies!

Charlie Charlie he wants a dog!
He wants a collie he he he!


Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Question

Making it easy this week (complex questions possibly returning next week).

Who or what are you on to?

I'm on to you, processed fruit snacks.
I'm on to you, Bill Bavasi.
I'm on to you, CBS dramas.

Highly Observant Commenting

This from kbow on the post about Margaret's big premiere:
Also, whaaa!? You instigated a life-altering household move when your wife was eleventy months pregnant? Mrs. Moe is a ROCK STAR!

Yes. She is. Like Queen of the rock stars. Atop her throne in Rockstasylvania.

And also, yes we did move while beset with pregnancy. We found out about what would eventually be Margaret late last August. So everything written on this blog since then was written with the knowledge of our knocked-upatudedness. That means deciding to move to St Paul, getting ready to sell our house, selling our house, packing up, moving across the country, the I'm On To You phenomenon, watching Mr. Megnorium's Munger Penorium. Everything. And it also colors the sort of multiple nervous breakdowns I had along the way. The baby was actually part of our decision to move out here. We could afford a 4-bedroom house in St Paul and could have three kids there. Seattle is more a place for the one child wrapped in plastic sheeting inside a $400 stroller. We were becoming a Midwestern family; better get our asses to the Midwest. The baby that would be Margaret made only indirect appearances here.

I was excited and delighted about the baby, of course, but I've been around enough to know that things can happen in the pregnancy process and it doesn't always go according to plan. It's stressful, as is moving. But you look forward to the brighter tomorrow you're arranging for yourself even as it all seems like great big truckloads of madness.

I remember last December, my arms covered in paint and my head full of hassles trying to get our home gussied up to attract suitors, thinking how in May I would be living in a different part of the country in some house taking some baby for a walk. It did not seem real. It wasn't going from point A to point B. More like going from point A to point 672JKLH991.rr3. And actually that daydream of that walk really sustained me. It was the happy place I went to even though it seemed about as likely as walking into a movie.

And once again, kbow, yes, Mrs. Moe. Holy Toledo. Give it up for the woman. Everyone up on your feet. While I was psychically weighed down with this existential blah de blah, she had a person in her uterus and all the attendant STUFF that goes with it. So while we planned this whole thing and made eleventy billion phone calls she was going through all that. And she was tired and couldn't lift things, which is kind of a big part of, uh, moving. On the plus side, repeatedly lifting most things we owned did wonders for my upper body strength. First rule of Move Club: don't talk about Move Club.

But we got through it in two ways: first, we had sort of sealed our own fates on this one. We had set things in motion that were pretty much irreversible. Secondly, we knew that time passes. We would get there, the temperature would rise above -4, the baby would arrive, that walk would take place. And a couple of days ago after Margaret returned from the hospital and experienced direct sunlight for the first time ever, that walk DID take place. It also featured Kate clinging to the side of the stroller and repeatedly poking Margaret, which was not part of the plan but whatever.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Margaret's first attempt at impersonating Joe Pesci playing Popeye flipping someone off wasn't perfect. But she was only a day old. We'll keep practicing.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Yogurt Monkey Sylvia Poggioli

So I've been in public radio full time for almost seven years now. And I get asked all the time how I got involved in something like that (people always add that emphasis because public radio = you so crazy). And it's kind of screwy, really. See, first I was an actor in Seattle. Then I was a frustrated bored actor who felt like he was wasting his time on dumb projects. Then I was that same actor who wrote plays.

Then Rewind came on the air. First local, then national, news satire on NPR, produced at KUOW, hosted by Bill Radke. Jill heard it, thought I should write for it. I said meh and did nothing about it. Andy Jensen heard it, was directing a play I wrote, thought the play could use some publicity, cold called Bill Radke pushing me as a comedy sketch writer, Bill called me, I started writing for the show. The reason: the money. Make no mistake. For every 3-5 minute sketch they bought, Rewind would send me $200. I could not believe it. So I wrote as many as I could and got a pretty good track record.

Later, I went to work for the show full time as a writer, then elbowed my way on to the air as a sort of correspondent and later a back up host. Then Rewind got canceled so I elbowed my way into the rest of KUOW as a producer and later on the air. Meanwhile, Bill decamped Seattle and went to LA to host what was to become Weekend America. I started freelancing for them, elbowing my way on to their airways and was later offered a full time job.

So how did I achieve this weekly national air time? Not journalism school, not internships: funny writing, stubborn persistence, and lots of sharp elbowing. And Bill Radke more or less.

So I knew baby was on the way this week and I knew my work week would be short. No time to report and file a story. So I pitched the idea, which was then accepted, of me writing a comedy sketch based on current events that Bill and I could do together. If you listen to this sketch and never had a chance to hear Rewind, well, you're listening to Rewind on Weekend America.

(whoever is the first to explain what the title of this posting has to do with the subject matter wins a free invisible theoretical Monkey Disaster t-shirt.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Question

All I can come up with for the Friday Question is:

Hey guess what?!

Not much of a question but I've been a little occupied.

Please welcome to the world Margaret Eleanor Joy Moe. We'll call her Margaret. We might even call her Maggie. So far: Margaret.

Name etymology:

Margaret - a name we've always loved. We think it's smart, kind of sophisticated, classical, and fun. Also, if she's Maggie, that makes her the baby sister with an older brother and a middle sister, just like The Simpsons, a program I've always enjoyed (but wait a minute, if Charlie's Bart and Kate's Lisa, that makes me...d'oh!)

Eleanor - (music geek alert! beware!)
We wanted to involve music in this child's name in some way since music is such a beautiful part of life. One of my favorite songs is "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" by Franz Ferdinand. It's this slow dreamy song about how Eleanor can do all these wonderful things and leap from the Coney Island Roller Coaster and the Statue of Liberty and have air streams gently set her down and how "I could be there when you land". It's just magical and beautiful. Better still, it was written about the lead singer's girlfriend Eleanor Friedberger, who is in the band The Fiery Furnaces, a band SHE started with her brother. So you have beauty, magic, love, and family all in the one name. And it's kind of classy besides.
(music geek alert complete)

Joy - Two middle names! Because why not! This is Charlie's. He says it was the feeling he got when he thought about the baby. Come to find out he also heard it in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles "and Pokemon!" Kate pointed out. But he insists it came from his heart first, not a cartoon.

Moe - Well, yeah, Moe.