Loony ’toons

Scratches Family Cartoon

Last week, while reading dooce, I happened upon a cartoon Heather made of herself at FaceYourManga.com. I gave it a hurried whirl, but wasn’t too thrilled with the results.

Zan wanted to do up the whole family today, so he and I put these together. Gave me a chance to refine my cartoon self, the previous version of which looked more like a 16-year-old Japanimation hero than an almost-40 dad.

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Not that there’s anything wrong with that …

So, you know what I thought would be fun as we head into the weekend? (Well, fun for you, anyway; excruciatingly painful for me.) How ’bout if I start a new category dubbed “Embarrassing” (not to be confused with Buffoonery), in which I shall regale you with tales of some of the most embarrassing moments of my entire life? How’s that sound? Good? OK, super!

Why would I do such a thing? Well, most obviously, it gives me something—plenty of things, actually—to write about without having to hope for some kind of daily fiasco to pop up and give me fodder for my next entry; and, secondly, I think it is possible that I may actually find catharsis in airing out these embarrassing moments for all of the Internet. Why should I cringe alone when I can have you all cringing with me?

Now, the only hard part is figuring out just which embarrassing moment I should write about first. Hmmm … well, there’s my entire adolescence … and most of the sexual experiences I had during my late teens and early 20s (meaning, you know, like, those three times) … oh, wait, here’s a good one:

Throughout college, I worked as a bartender at a couple of restaurants on the North Shore. Early on in my bartending years, I learned firsthand that gay men—several of whom I worked with, and some of whom became good friends of mine—are actually just regular human beings whose sexual orientation, it turns out, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on my life, or the life of the traditional American family. Go figure.

During my subsequent post-homophobic life, I was very comfortable joking with some of my gay co-workers about any number of things, to include their taste in men.

The year is 1996 and I am a senior in college. While having one such light-hearted conversation, Michael, one of my gay co-workers, informs me that I am not his type. He is not the first gay acquaintance to tell me this. (For you fellas who have not had a gay acquaintance tell you that you’re not his type, it makes for a strange internal dialogue … something like, “Well, it’s probably for the best that he’s not attracted to me, since I am not gay, but, still … what’s wrong with me, huh? I’m a good-enough looking guy, aren’t I? And funny? Hell, I’m a laugh riot. What’s not to like? Why doesn’t he want me??”).

Fast forward to later that evening. An off-duty, female co-worker is standing across the bar from me, and we are having a conversation about something or other. During the course of this conversation, it comes up that Michael had told me earlier that I wasn’t his type. It is at this point in the conversation that I turn to Ricky [not his real name], another co-worker whom I had known for quite some time, and say to him, “Ricky, you’re a member of the gay community; I don’t get it. Why do gay men not find me attractive?”

Ricky reacts by looking slightly offended, and says to me …

[Jesus Christ, I want to crawl under my desk right now.]

Ricky says to me … [*gulp*]: “I didn’t know I was a member of the gay community.


I have known Ricky for a few years at this point, and, up until this very moment, I was sure that he was an openly gay man—and, in my defense (if it can even be considered one, which I’m pretty sure it can not), a very effeminate and mildly flamboyant one, at that. However, in the split second that it takes for all of the blood in my face to drain into my feet, I am able to flip through my entire mental notebook, and nowhere in it can I find a single instance during which Ricky has specifically said he is gay.

I experience mental vapor lock. My mind cannot locate even a hint of a handhold onto which I might grab and save myself from plummeting into an abyss of embarrassment so ink-black and horrifically deep that I may never get out.

I say nothing. I turn and look at my female co-worker. Her expression is a combination of profound discomfort at the position in which I’ve placed her, and stunned amazement at the enormity of the gaffe I have just made.

I am certain that I am about to wake up in my bed with my heart pounding, and I will then be able to say to myself, “Holy shit! Thank god that was just a dream! Can you even imagine doing something that embarrassing? Whew.”

Except—fuck—I am awake. Oh no.

Ricky—whose shift is over and who had been just about to leave the building (if only he had left 10 seconds earlier!)—bids us goodnight and departs. I excuse myself from my female co-worker, walk into the kitchen, out the side door, and run into the parking lot, where I catch Ricky just before he backs his car out and leaves. He rolls down his window.

“Ricky, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s OK,” he says.

“Seriously, I’m really sorry, I just thought—”

“Don’t worry about it,” he says and heads home. Never again do we speak about this incident.

Now, let us return to the present, and allow me to ask you: do I have game, or what? I mean, that, boys and girls, is embarrassing. Frankly, I don’t know if I can top that one, so I hope I haven’t set your expectations too high for future installments.

Incidentally, I’m not sure the whole catharsis thing is gonna work out; I have so viscerally relived that incident by writing about it here that I feel like it just happened. Hopefully, there’ll be some kind of purging effect in a short while … one that doesn’t involve me vomiting from the intensity of the embarrassment brought on by that memory.

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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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