I also pay a guy to fix my car

Four years ago this month, Wonder Woman and I closed on our house and joined the ranks of the “homeowners” (a misnomer if ever there was one, because, I assure you, we so don’t own this house; Countrywide Mortgage owns not only this house, but, thanks to the plummeting real estate prices of the past several years, everything in it … but I digress).

At the end of our first winter here, it became apparent to us that the previous owners, in order to make the house they were selling look pretty for the least possible cost, slapped a coat of paint on it with little or no preparation. Their plan worked; we gave them an assload of cash for their pretty house, they vamoosed, and, after less than one year here, we had a house that looked like a giant, pale-yellow scab.

Of course, there were a million other things that needed doing, so an exterior paint job languished at the bottom of our priority list. Last year, we bit the bullet and got the roof done. The old roof was so aged that the new one looked startlingly better … until your eyes drifted downward to the exterior of the house upon which the new roof sat; then it looked like an exquisite top hat worn by a slop-covered pig.

We gathered estimates from a number of painters last summer and, sadly, none of them were willing to accept as their payment a delicious bowl of instant macaroni and cheese, so we again gritted our teeth and accepted the fact that, for at least one more year, we would have to be the neighborhood eyesore.

Over the winter, my family convinced us that we could paint the house ourselves, that it would be an easy job, hell, it’s a small house, and with their help, we could do it in two weekends, no problem. Standing in the yard with my father this spring, I pointed out a number of places on the house where the wood appeared to be rotted. “Well, all you have to do is just take a carpenter’s knife and score around the rotten pieces until you’re able to remove them, then cut some new pieces that will fit in the same spaces, then nail those in place, then caulk the seams, sand it all down, good to go, no problem. You might have to pull off some of the big pieces and replace them, too, but that shouldn’t be too bad.”

Who do I look like, Bob Fucking Vila? (It should be noted that, were my father to learn that he needed emergency brain surgery, rather than pay a professional to do it for him, he would spend several weeks looking for a coupon that he could use to purchase a generic-brand, do-it-yourself brain-surgery kit in tax-free New Hampshire during a clearance sale of open-box items with a no-return policy.)

Still, we continued to stick with our “Little Train That Could” mindset, and further deluded ourselves into believing that we could tackle the oh-so-easy job of, you know, repairing, power-washing, scraping, sanding, priming and painting our entire house in four days—presumably while our unsupervised children played with matches in the basement.

Around this time, one of the non-macaroni-and-cheese-accepting painters from last summer arrived at our door unsolicited to see if we were still interested in having the house painted. “No, no, we’re going to paint it ourselves,” I assured him. As an alternative, he offered to do the prep work, to include repairing all of the rotted wood. Hmmm.

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” I said to my brainwashed self as I tried to resist his Jedi mind trick.

He surveyed the exterior of the house with me, pointing out the numerous places that needed to be repaired, and described the process those repairs would involve.

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can … probably come up with enough money to pay you for the prep work,” I decided.

The gales of laughter that burst forth from Wonder Woman and I as we watched a four-man team spend two days using an arsenal of professional carpentry tools to replace all of the rotted wood that we had so foolishly told ourselves we would be able to fix on our own were surpassed only by the side-splittingly ferocious guffaws that we let loose while a rotating team of five men spent seven eight-hour days prepping, priming and painting our house—a job we wisely decided was worth paying for, even if doing so meant letting our freshly painted home slip into foreclosure.

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Behold: Daddy Scratches

About five million years ago, I decided to revamp and relaunch my blog. I swore that the revamping would be done by my wife’s late-April birthday … and then by my mid-May business trip to Los Angeles … and then by my son’s mid-June birthday … and then by my daughter’s mid-July birthday … and then by my late-July vacation … and, lastly, by the time I attended the mid-August New Media Expo in Las Vegas.

Well, three cheers for hours of time alone in a Vegas hotel room.

So, yes, I’m at the expo in Vegas, and today is the final day. After spending most of last night and all of the wee hours of this morning tweaking and writing, I have, at long last, finally launched this goddamn—ahem, I mean delightful—blog.

As explained in the “F.A.Q” section on the “About” page, the bulk of the blog’s content currently comprises entries originally posted at my previous blog’s URL. Sadly, after getting off to an ambitious start, I let that blog die on the vine. But, lo and behold, it has now risen from the ashes in a new and improved—and more anonymous—form.

Yes, I have chosen to maintain my anonymity this time around … not necessarily because I don’t want you to know who I am, but because I’m doing a lot of writing about my family—particularly my children—and I believe they are entitled to some degree of anonymity. Of course, this is a shame, because it prevents me, for example, from coming right out and telling you for just which publication I am employed as a music journalist and podcaster … but, hey, life’s full of trade-offs. (Obviously, a number of you already do know who I am, but I’m not worried about you cats; it’s the rest of the Internet I’m talking to here.)

Wondering why I went with the name “Daddy Scratches”? That, too, is answered in the “F.A.Q.” section on the “About” page.

Interested in some of my greatest hits? Well, there’s the time I almost burned down my kitchen, or the time I couldn’t free my daughter from a bath seat in which she’d become trapped, or the detailed account of my vasectomy (which, in retrospect, is a fairly embarrassing experience to share so openly with the Internet, and is probably another good reason for me to maintain a bit of anonymity; you wouldn’t want me to hold a gem like that back, would you?).

And, in the name-dropping, “Wow, look at me!” column, there are the tales of my adventures with Van Halen and Sammy Hagar, and semi-misadventure with Army of Anyone.

With any luck, some of you will enjoy the blog, leave comments, tell your friends, and keep coming back for more. Should that end up being the case, then let me both thank you for your support and congratulate you on your exceptional good taste.

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To boldly go … to dinner?

As mentioned in a recent Tweet and documented in a previous Flickr image, I dined last night with seven strangers at a Star Trek-themed restaurant in Las Vegas. The spaceship shown here (I think it’s called The Enterprise, but I’m afraid to say so definitively, because to do so and be wrong would be to bring on the wrath of Trekkies worldwide, and that’s trouble I just don’t need) was hovering over the dining area. It’s about 15-feet long … I think; I was five beers deep by that point … which explains how it came to pass that I was in a Star Trek-themed restaurant in Las Vegas with seven strangers.

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He writes the songs

The Las Vegas Hilton is home to none other than Mr. Barry Manilow. I can’t escape his visage. It’s everywhere. The outside of the building, the posters in the lobby, the hallways, the Barry Manilow store (yes, an entire store of Barry Manilow shwag)—even my room key, fer crissakes.

About a month ago, I spotted Mr. Manilow at the Bristol Lounge in Boston’s Four Seasons hotel. That face … that nose … that hair … those eyes … eyes that appeared unable to blink thanks to enough plastic surgery to take all of the slack out of a human being’s face. How he can even move his mouth is mystery to me.

Please, someone … make it stop.

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A rose by any other name …

Scene: Zan and Daddy on the couch, watching the Red Sox play the Angels.

“Daddy, do you know any of the Angels players’ names?”

“Well, their newest guy is Mark Texaira … and they have a great hitter named Vladimir Guerrero …”

“V-lad-i-mir Gor-arrow?”

“Guerrero.”

“Gwa-arrow?”

“Almost. It’s Guerrero.”

[Pause]

“I wish they named him Bill.”

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