January 2007 Archives

Molly Ivins, RIP

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Austin is a sadder place tonight.

The "Debate" Continues

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Babble has published my response to Lisa Carver's anti-Alternadad piece. Please go read and comment on it if you feel inclined. But while the publication allowed Carver's piece to appear unfettered, they didn't give me that privilege, immediately stacking atop me a piece by editor Ada Calhoun.

Which side are you on? Eh. Who gives a shit?

Outbreak

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It was quite a scene Sunday afternoon at 12 Galaxies. More than 150 people, half of them 10 years old and under, came out, making for a substantially lower age than usual at my readings. But this was much more than a reading; in fact, I probably didn't read for longer than eight minutes, total. The entertainment also included The Timeouts, a mostly cover band made up of dads who wear their names on their unicolored shirts, like they're the indie Wiggles. San Francisco also includes the Sippy Cups, who are far more elaborate and psychedelic, but there are all kinds of bands in an scene. And kiddie music, in certain cities, is definitely becoming a scene.

This particular scene also included The Devilettes, a group of burlesque vixens who have transmuted their talents to something called Pipsqueak A-Go-Go, which, believe me, the dads enjoy as much as their kids. There's nothing like seeing a bunch of women wearing colorful go-go outfits and dancing like animals to get the juices flowing. The kids enjoyed doing their moves, too, by the way.

My only critique of the event is that the bathrooms were pretty gross. But what do you expect when you have an afternoon indie-rock concert for kids at a club in the Mission? Damn, we had fun.

Afterward, I took Beth Lisick, the talented and charming writer who had organized the event for me, out to dinner. Beth has a four-year-old son. Her husband runs a recording studio, working with bands like Deerhoof. Can you say alternaparents? I thought you could.

We had a nice dinner. After going over to my friend Ben's house and playing his Wii with Katie and Dakota (just like we used to do in Austin!), I went home for an early bedtime.

At 5:30 AM I woke up. And I was very, very itchy.

And The Timber Industry Thanks Me

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Alternadad has just gone into its second printing! Whoo-hooo!

Reviews O' The Day

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They love Alternadad in Houston. And Boston can't get enough of those trend stories. To those of you who saw me on my groundbreaking CNN appearance: Welcome!

Alternatube

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At last, I've made it onto YouTube. My Monday night reading at Mo Pitkin's can be found there in four parts. They've been conveniently collected here for those of you who aren't going to have the privilege of seeing me read in person, or those of you who simply can't get enough of my semi-good looks. Thanks to Jurgen Fauth for directing the best footage of a writer reading since the lost Nabokov Live At Harvard tapes.

Also, I'll be appearing on CNN this Sunday between 9 AM and 9:15 AM EST. For those of you who are keeping score, that's between 6 AM and 6:15 AM PST. Oy.

Dawn Patrol

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The following tale also appears today on Matthew Baldwin's Defective Yeti site, as part of something called Plugapalooza, whatever that is, but apparently Mr. Baldwin's been getting a lot of traffic lately and he's trying to send some my way. I am grateful and hope to be able to return the favor in some small way.

Regardless, I like the story. And I hope you enjoy.

On Monday night (Tuesday morning?) at 1 AM, I found myself in the studios of WOR Radio, in New York. I was to be a guest on The Joey Reynolds Show. I didn't know much about Joey Reynolds, other than that he used to be Wayne Newton's manager, sometimes serves his guests homemade cheesecake, and wrote a memoir titled Let Your Smile Be Your Umbrella, But Don't Get a Mouthful of Rain. Also, his real name is Joey Pinto.

I arrived at the studio baked out of my mind, which was the only way I could make it to 1 AM with any semblance of coherence or humor.

Tour Update

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The West Coast Leg is beginning.

Los Angeles tomorrow night, Jan. 26, at Skylight Books; San Francisco Sunday afternoon, the 28th at 12 Galaxies; Berkeley Jan. 30, Tuesday, at Cody's; Seattle, Feb. 1, Thursday, at Chop Suey, and Portland, Feb. 3, at Powell's. The SF and Portland shows are daytime all-ages family dance parties. Check the Appearances page for details.

Also, I've added an Austin date, on Thursday, March 8, at Bookpeople. As though that was ever in doubt. Three-quarters of the book takes place in Austin, for pity's sake. In addition, I'm going to be a speaker at SXSW Interactive. The exact time has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, Elijah has informed me that my next book will either be about how to make milk, or about Aquaman. I'm home now, warming myself by the hearth as Abagail brings me the evening's stew. The Continental Congress has much to debate, and I'm to return to Philadelphia as soon as possible.

Wait. That's John Adams. Actually, for dinner tonight we went with my parents to this place in Eagle Rock called The Oinkster. They cure their own pastrami.

Goddamn, I'm tired. Babble, my so-called compatriot in the "hip parenting" movement, launched a strange sneak attack on me today. God forsake bibs! My deeply-considered response is forthcoming.

Thanks to all of you who've supported me during this crazy-ass week. And miles to go before I sleep...

NP

Ask Alternadad Something Else

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Harry writes:

"I gave up drinking right before my child was born after being disastrously rebellious in my teenage and young adult life. I don't feel a need to get away and ease my mind, like, say, going to happy hour or reading the paper at the local coffee place. And being with my child makes me a better man; I see myself doing so many less petty things. I have dreams but they involve my son. Does this change? Does this pass after the first year?"

My answer after the bump.

Ask Alternadad

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A reader writes:

Dear Alternadad:

Where does the city/town exist that has a good art scene, alternative culture and is relatively safe to raise children? Is that a fathom of our imagination or can we REALLY find what we truly need? My husband is quite taken with Brooklyn and San Francisco. Lots of “hipsters” pushing strollers with the family dog. But we're not sure it’s affordable or feasible. Where is that place? We're just not sure.

P.S. Southern Culture on the Skids is a great band to play for your kids, it would be a good addition to your music hour.

My answer after the bump.

Soothing Reassurances

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On the phone tonight:

Elijah (crying): Daddy, I wanted to say good night to you! Good night, daddy!

Neal: Good night, buddy. Be a good boy for mommy.

Elijah: OK.

Regina: He's done.

Neal: No. Put him back on.

Elijah: Hi, Daddy!

Neal: Hey, Elijah. Guess what?

Elijah: What?

Neal: You know what happened today?

Elijah: What?

Neal: My arm fell off.

Elijah: No!

Neal: It did. And then I put it back on.

Elijah: Guess what happened to me today.

Neal: What?

Elijah: JoJo put glue in my hair and stuck me to a lamp-post.

Neal: Wow.

Regina: OK. He's done.

Neal: I think he'll be fine.

Review O' The Week

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A thoughtful, and, yes, extremely positive piece in the L.A. Times by Christopher Noxon, author of the essential Gen-X pop sociology book, Rejuvenile.

My First Meester

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Late one recent weekend afternoon, I was puttering with my vaporizer in the back of the house. Regina and Elijah had gone to the grocery store, and I’d stayed behind to “walk the dog,” the timing of which had nothing at all to do with the fact that the Saints-Eagles game would be starting soon. This was private time, rare enough, and I found myself feeling, as a poet once wrote, the inward bliss of solitude.

I heard a voice from the front of the house, accompanied by a rapping.

“Hello?” the voice said. “Hello? Helllllll-ooooooo-ooooooo? Hellll-ooooo-ooooo?”

We’ve learned, over the years, not to answer the door when someone’s knocking. If it’s a friend or a relative, they’ll eventually call us on our cell phones to let them in. Otherwise, we’ll just wait them out. In Austin, the knockers were either usually clean-water advocates or random guys asking us for a fiver. In L.A., it’s a little more varied, about 30 percent acolytes from one church or another, 30 percent kids selling crap candy for one cause or another, 10 percent random guys asking us for a fiver, and the rest a mix of real-estate agents, scam artists, and other urban effluvia. It’s a big city and we’re in a crowded neighborhood where privacy barely exists. People knock on our door a lot.

“Helll-oooooo?” the voice continued.

I wandered toward the front door in time to see some guy walking away. For some reason, I opened the door and talked to him through the metal gate.

“What?” I said. “What do you want?”

He turned around. His hair dripped down to his shoulders in long, greasy curls. He had a goatee. No other details registered.

“Hey, meester,” he said.

Meester? I thought.

MEESTER?

“Do you want some nice fertilizer for your lawn?”

And Cesar Chavez audibly turned over in his grave.

Looking like the put upon middle-aged middle-class man that I’ve reluctantly become, I shook my head, closed the door, and resumed my afternoon’s business. But my gentleman caller stuck in my mind.

The Wild Tour Yonder

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And now I'm off on my favorite part of the book-publishing cycle. The tour. For those of you who haven't been paying attention--and why would you, really?--I have several dates coming up in the next week. This Wednesday in Boston I'm doing a reading at Great Scott, with a musical performance by Harry And The Potters. On Thursday, I'm reading at the Free Library Of Philadelphia. On Sunday, I'm at the Tea Lounge in Brooklyn. Monday night, I'm at Mo Pitkins' in Manhattan. And next Wednesday, January 24, I'm at the Hopleaf in Chicago for the Bookslut Reading Series. Full details can be found on my famous Appearances page.

There will be West Coast dates the following week, and I'll remind about those later.

I won't be updating this page much in the next couple of weeks. I've got lots of travelling and I'll be apart from my main inspiration. We're trying to break Elijah into the idea that I'll be gone. He and Regina made a calendar today out of colored construction paper, writing in the name of the city where I'll be that day. They'll all be X'ed off as I get closer to home. Also, Regina drew a map of the U.S. with indicators of the cities that I'll be visiting. And there's a little daddy figure who Elijah will get to push-pin onto the map so he can "follow" me on my trip.

If you're not already suffering from insulin shock, let me add this detail: Elijah has his own copy of Alternadad on his dresser. I signed it for him thusly: "Elijah: You are my best buddy. This book is for you. You're always in my thoughts. God forsake bibs. Love, Daddy."

Elijah responded by telling me that Bhotman will accompany me on the tour, except that he won't be visiting Boston, because it's too cold. Instead, he'll be going to Minneapolis. A smart one, that Bhotman. I'll be glad to have him along as protection from the many enemies that my parenthood memoir has been accumulating.

Wish me luck, people. Even more than that, wish Regina luck. Tonight, Elijah sat up in bed and shrieked for two hours. It finally abated when I went into his room and laid down next to him for a while. After five minutes of silent pretending-to-sleep, I looked up and saw him picking his boogers and eating them, as usual.

"What are you thinking about?" I said.

"You," he said.

"What about me?"

"That you're going to be gone."

"I won't be gone for long."

"I know that."

Good lord. This is like Jon Voight talking to the little boy in The Champ. I guess it will take more than a book inscription to persuade a four-year-old that his world isn't being ripped apart. Swell.

I hope to see you all on the road.

Yr pal,
NP

Poultrygeist

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Quick order of business: If you've read and enjoyed Alternadad, please feel free to meander over to its Amazon page today and drop a review. The revolution appreciates your efforts. Plus, Hodgman is getting lonely.

Elijah-related content after the bump.

Apocalypse Now?

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Today's conversation in the car on the way to school:

Elijah: "Daddy, was there an earthquake last night?"

Neal: "There are always earthquakes."

"Then why don't I feel them?"

"They're little."

"Oh. So when is the world going to blow up?"

"Not for a long, long time."

"But I thought the world blew up and then life started."

"Yes, but that was a different kind of explosion. You see, there's this scientific term called entropy...um...anyway...everything's always being created and destroyed at the same time."

"So when the world blows up, are the dinosaurs going to come back?"

"No. The dinosaurs had their chance."

"What's going to happen to people?"

"Really, son, you don't have to worry about this."

"Are the pieces of the world going to come back together?"

"No."

"Then what's going to happen to them?"

"I don't know."

"And then the monkeys are going to turn into people?"

"That already happened."

"When?"

"A long time ago."

"But there are still monkeys."

"Yes."

"Are they going to turn into people?"

"Probably not."

"But when is the world going to blow up?"

"Not while you're alive. Everything's fine."

"Daddy?"

"Yes?"

"I'm scared that the world is going to blow up."

"The world is not going to blow up, OK?"

"And then the dinosaurs will come back?"

"I guess anything's possible."

"But how will they come back if the world blows up?"

"Can we talk about something else now?"

Press O' The Day

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Radar online interviews me, and I emerge looking only semi-moronic. To clarify: I DO know what an "Alternadad" is. I think the current generation of parents is redefining the cultural notion of what it means to be a parent. Boomer parenting culture of the 80s and 90s sprung up wholly around a strange notion of the child's needs that manifested itself in a plague of lame "Mommy And Me" classes and French flash cards for three-year-olds. The current wave of parents is still child-obsessed, but also trying to retain a shred of pre-child identity. Their efforts are sometimes pathetic and stunted, but I still think it's an important cultural shift. That was the era of Barney, and this is the era of Dan Zanes. I don't even really like Dan Zanes all that much, but he represents, in a lot of ways, a saner approach.

Bottom Chef

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First, housekeeping, as every entry these semi-busy days must begin with housekeeping. I've made some final adjustments to my tour schedule. My Jan. 18 reading at the Free Library Of Philadelphia starts at 7 PM. Also, the awesome Jan. 28 San Francisco book party and "dance freakout" with Beth Lisick and Pipsqueak A-Go-Go will run from 3-6 PM at 12 Galaxies. $5 for kids, $8 for adults.

Meanwhile, my first Amazon review for Alternadad has arrived. It's from none other than my former literary agent (and current Apple, Inc. spokesmodel) John Hodgman. I now have a goal: To get all current and former Daily Show cast members to review my book on Amazon. Can A. Whitney Brown be far behind?

For now, though, let's close the door on the offices of the Department Of Literary Nepotism and proceed with our usual amusing Elijah-related content. A fine tale follows after the bump.

Same Old

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First, housekeeping. The excellent pop-culture blog Largehearted Boy has published my Alternadad "soundtrack essay" here. Enjoy.

So Elijah woke up this morning at 7 AM. I was already at the computer, monitoring Amazon.com for signs of progress. He announced that, more than anything else in the world, he wanted to watch the "Volcano Sisters" episode of The Backyardigans, which was apparently hiding somewhere on TIVO. I acquiesed, despite the fact that The Backyardigans are my sworn enemies who must be killed.

Unfortunately, the TIVO was frozen because our DSL line had received some mysterious "servicing" the night before. Therefore, we couldn't access The Volcano Sisters. Oh, the middle-class tragedies of the information age! On the scale of human problems, this lies somewhere between "out of peanut butter" and "need to cut my toenails," but Elijah didn't understand that, and he began to bawl as though I'd just shot Old Yeller.

I called to the other room.

"Regina," I said. "Can you deal with this, please?"

When I next emerged from my Alternadad-cave, Elijah was running around the house, dressed for school, inexplicably yelling, over and over again, "PEENIE! PEENIE! PEENIE! PEENIE! PEENIE! PEENIE!"

And thus my publication day began.

Publication Day!

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On the eve of the official publication of Alternadad, Salon has published an excerpt from the book. This particular excerpt is about circumcision, a tender topic if ever there were one. A shit-blizzard of letters has already resulted, and I'm sure it will reach the hundreds by the time I wake up in the morning. However, unlike the last time I wrote for Salon and was mercilessly attacked on the Internet for being a bad father and a poor excuse for a man, this time I'm steeled and ready. The hilarious vitriol has already begun to flow. I just hope my wife and parents feel the same way.

For those of you who care, my relationship with my own parents has never been better. They've been remarkable grandparents and have been incredibly understanding and patient about the now-infamous Chapter 7 of Alternadad. I dedicated the book to them. Their support of my weird career, and of the book, shows that I was right to do so. Mom, dad, I love you. Please don't sue.

So now Alternadad is finally here. I've published four books, but this one is by far the most personal, and the most satisfying. The support and humor that you all have shown me over the last couple of years has gotten me through some tough days, and some sleep-deprived nights.

If you see fit, pick up a copy of Alternadad today. And if you've already done that, write a review on Amazon. Early customer recommendations can be important there. Or tell a friend. Or buy someone a gift. Or just drop me a note. You could also leave a comment here. Or don't do anything at all. No pressure from this corner.

The publication of a book is always cause for an author to celebrate, but I have extra reason to party today. In many ways, this book is my family's life, in all its mundanity, and the sometimes unflattering portrait I paint of us is almost too accurate. But it's true and funny, and today I'm floating with pride and gratitude. This really is a glorious day for me and my family, and I'm so lucky to be sharing it with friends, both real-life and virtual, around the world. Thank you all so much.

Love,
Neal

Ask Alternadad

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First, some procedural notes:

Attention, Southern California-area readers: I'm having a book party for Alternadad tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 9. It's at the Echo, 1822 W. Sunset Blvd. 7-10 PM. Hope to see you there.

Also, Dadcentric has a very nice review of Alternadad today.

Now then. A concerned reader writes:

"I have a problem with my 11 year-old son. When he was born I swore that he would never be allowed to listen to shitty music. Years ago I introduced him to Sabbath, Agent Orange, the Ramones, X, Meat Puppets, and I even swallowed my pride and let him listen to kiddie punkers like MxPx and Good Charlotte, and even a few Green Day songs. Now he is 11, and got an Ipod Nano for his birthday. "Cool!", I thought, "I'll get him a gift card for I Tunes for Christmas!" Great idea, right? WRONG! WRONG! WRONG! He has been downloading P. Diddy, Justin Timberlake and some asshole named Akon with Eminem. What did I do wrong? Should I give up and focus on his little brother? Should I tell him to leave the pop MTV shit out of this house or he's moving out? Should I tell him that I despise this music, and that I don't watch MTV, or allow him to, for the same reason his mother refuses to shop at Walmart? What do you think, Neal? I might have to snake the Ipod and say his mother washed it in the laundry! He was so cute listening to Meat Puppets or riding his little bike with the Black Flag sticker on it..."

My answer after the bump.

Find The Onion

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer loves Alternadad. A sample paragraph:

"Because Pollack's stories about his son, Elijah, and his wife, Regina, are mostly hilarious, bookstores will probably stock "Alternadad" on the Humor shelves. But the book is also bracingly honest, and so full of love it could just as easily go in the Parenting section, next to Anne Lamott's classic, "Operating Instructions.""

Now here's some more of that "bracing honesty."

This morning, I was in bed, reveling in my Sunday-morning stink. Elijah's stuffed animals surrounded me, as we'd earlier made a fort. Now it was time for playoff football, and I was enjoying watching the robotically efficient Patriots slap around the Jets, whose coach had apparently used the wrong annoying boxing metaphor to motivate his team. Anyway, Regina was off having coffee somewhere. Elijah entered, carrying two plastic balls, one orange and one red.

"Daddy," he said. "Let's play Find The Onion."

"What's Find The Onion?" I said.

"You have to count to twenty and then you have to hide the onion and then the other person has to find it."

"OK. Where are the onions?"

He held out the balls.

"These are the onions," he said. "And they are very stinky because they grew in a poo field."

"Swell," I said.

Swingers

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We took Elijah to visit our friends in Hermosa Beach today, because, you know, sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we live in California. Where else can you see professional skaters whizzing around while dressed, like some low-level fetishists at a Holiday Inn convention center, in "furries" costumes? I think this was for a video.

The people in my neighborhood walk around with blank, bitter looks on their face, like they just accidentally inhaled paint thinner. The people in Hermosa walk around with blank looks, all right, but the blankness comes from a different source. My favorite source.

We all went for a long walk along the beach. Sculpted stereotypes played volleyball and 1,000 dogs, including our pal Hercules, bopped along. Herc seemed especially happy. We spend most of our neighborhood walks trying to avoid the lunatic, foaming advances of dogs who haven't slept inside since the 90s. In Hermosa, where it's always 65 and the breasts are 20 percent larger, the dogs are much happier and mellower.

We stopped at one point so Elijah and I could run around on the beach. At a certain point, he told me he wanted to swing. We walked over to the set. A guy in a brown hoodie was already there, pushing his little blond three-year-old. I plunked Elijah down in the adjacent swing.

"Daddy!" the kid said. "I'm high!"

The guy looked at me and chuckled.

"Dude," he said.

"Tell me about it," I said.

That silent acknowledgment passed. A few minutes later, we got ready to leave.

"Hasta," I said.

"Adios," he said.

I briefly thought about the fact that neither of us were Hispanic. Then I realized it didn't particularly matter.

Meanwhile, Alternadad has been reviewed in the NYTBR.

More About The Elijahverse

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Several interested readers have informed me about glaring omissions in my Elijahverse mythology. Man, this really is a website. Nerds! Anyway, here are some more key characters and terms.

Bush Man. An evil supervillain who, according to Elijah, tortures people and steals their money. Regina and I may have prodded the boy a bit on this one.

Mr. Dang. At the moment, according to Elijah, he is the world's most powerful refrigerator. Yet he doesn't feel cold to the touch. A good guy.

The Floor Of Dust. A place where Elijahverse villains throw their enemies. As in "I will put you in the floor of dust!" Anyone put in the floor of dust is immediately swarmed by mosquitos.

The Old Knight.
When Bhotman is healthy, he's a strapping dude with a fire-breathing dragon on his shirt. When he gets sick, he turns into an Old Knight. The fire-breating dragon then turns into a snake that blows fire out its butt.

On that note, I bid you good weekend.

The Devil's Reveille

5:50 AM. Elijah has not yet gotten over the holiday time change. We hear the clomping of little feet down the hall. And then the day is upon us.

"Hi," Elijah says.

"Wgrumpf," I reply.

Elijah paddles around to the other side of the bed, where Regina lays, her face scrunched up tighter than Joan Rivers post-surgery.

"Good morning, macaroni butt," he says.

Regina pretends not to hear.

"Don't call your mother macaroni butt," I say.

"If you say so, salami face."

This is a pretty annoying way to wake up, but then again, it's not waking up to a kid peeing in his Barrel Of Monkeys. By comparison, getting called salami face is free health insurance.

Intro To The Elijahverse

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For new readers to this site, I'd like to present a primer to The Elijahverse, my son's vast and ever-expanding pantheon of superheroes that he made up himself. For long-time readers, stay around. Elijah is constantly adding backstory and new characters. How long until an "Infinite Crisis" erupts?

Bhotman. Pronounced "Hotman" (the B is silent). The central figure in the Elijahverse, and its greatest hero. Bhotman fights villains with his "hot power," which sometimes emanates from his index finger and other times from buttons that he pushes on his costume. He was born on the Sun and now lives on Venus, though he spends a lot of time on Earth because his parents, for some reason, manage an apartment building in Chicago. Bhotman can also often be found on Mars, where he owns and operates a zoo. Bhotman is unmarried, and has no children. Elijah claims that Bhotman usually shows up at our house around dinnertime. He seems to have an insatiable appetite for sweets.

Dr. Boney. Bhotman's archenemy and the Elijahverse's chief villain. Dr. Boney is an "old robot with blood on the outside and skin on the inside." Underneath his skin, he's made of wood, except for his hands, which are metal. Dr. Boney is very powerful, though, according to Elijah, he's not evil, "he just wants to hurt everybody for no reason." He spends almost all of his time flying around Los Angeles in a giant helicopter, which contains beds, a bathroom, and a kitchen, and has developed the ability to fly his helicopter while asleep. Dr. Boney has eighteen children, whose names change every day.

Mud Car Man.
A very popular villain, Mud Car Man is a police car gone bad. He uses his "mud power," which emanates from a mud fountain on his roof, to hurt people. Mud Car Man is often accompanied by Mud Car Lady, who is just as villainous, only female.

Dr. Pulp.
A secondary hero, Dr. Pulp fights bad guys by shooting paper at them.

Yellow Lantern. A good guy who burns people with a yellow iron, which he received from aliens. Elijah doesn't explain why this character isn't called "Yellow Iron."

Hill Man. A snow-capped hill that monitors all the world's crime through a network of supercomputers. He also fights bad guys, but moves very slowly.

Pillow. Bhotman's female dog, who shoots pillows at people.

Electricity.
Bhotman's electric cat. Also female.

Goo Man.
Bhotman's best friend, now deceased. He had "goo power," but was killed by a villain named Funny Bunny in a very long fight. His death led to the creation of Bhotman.

Slimy Man.
A superhero who, obviously influenced by Ricky Gervais' Flanimals, does nothing and dies.

Good Elijah Returns

Since Regina and I finally lowered the velvet hammer of discipline yesterday, Elijah has been a marzipan-like delight. It seems like he woke up actually respecting us, which is something we haven't felt in a while. I had this converation with him today:

"Daddy, you can do whatever you want whenever you want to."

"I don't know if that's true."

"Yes, it is. Because you are very smart and Bhotman likes you."

Bhotman, for the new readers among us, is Elijah's imaginary superhero friend, and the main character in a vast mythology of superheroes that I call the Elijahverse.

"Thank you, son."

"I wuv you, daddy."

AWWWWWWWWW! Everyone check your insulin levels.

OK. Are you back? All day, Elijah has been considerate, inquisitive, and easygoing. The only off moment came when he decided to go nuts and whip his Slinky all over the living room floor. It was annoying and noisy, and plus it was scratching the floor. So we said, "Elijah, do you want us to take the Slinky away? And then send you to your room?"

And then, he stopped.

Later, he and Regina were putting little gel tablets into a bowl of water and watching them expand into foam dinosaurs.

"Mommy," he said. "We can't take this water with us when we go in the car, because I might spill it on myself and then I might freak out and hit someone and then I'll have to sit in my bedroom."

Welcome, finally, to cause-and-effect land.

We're feeling so confident, in fact, that we're setting up new rules all over the place. For instance, if Elijah wakes up before 6 AM, which he's been doing consistently the last week, he's allowed to come get us--once. After that, he has to play quietly in his room until we wake up. He may just be old enough to pull this off.

Also, and more importantly for the outside world, humping has been outlawed, both the practice and the word. It's just not appropriate. Cinderella's mother is pretty tired of watching her daughter and Elijah's on the playground, and I want to remain her friend. I told Elijah of the Hump Embargo.

"I want to tell Cinderella about it," he said. "In private."

"Private is where you get into trouble," I said.

"I just want to tell her in my bedroom with the door closed. Or her bedroom with the door closed. Or maybe in the bathroom."

"Just stop, Elijah," Regina said. "If we catch you doing that with Cinderella, we're going to have to put you in your room."

"Can Cinderella come in my room with me?"

Argh. At least he's not having temper tantrums.

Postal

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On Saturday, we took Elijah to the Post Office to apply for his passport. As soon as we got there, we realized that Saturday at noon before a Monday holiday is not usually the best time to go to the Post Office. There was a line. We placed third, behind two families with several children each. I saw a twitch of restlessness in Elijah's eyes. We foolishly hadn't brought along any books or toys with us.

It was determined that Regina would wait in line while I took Elijah to the bank. Elijah proclaimed that he didn't want to go to the bank. I told him that I'd carry him there on my shoulders. That won the day.

The bank, which is actually a cash machine inside a Von's, was across the street. As usual, Elijah wanted to "help" me by inserting various things and pushing various buttons. On the way back to the Post Office, we had the last good conversation of the day.

"Daddy," he asked. "What happens to the antelope you put inside the cash machine?"

"The what?"

"The skinny white antelope."

"Oh," I said. "You mean the envelope."

"Envelope," he said. "What happens to it?"

"Well," I said, "the bank takes it out of the machine and then they process the check and send it back to the people who sent it to me, and then I get some money and they take some money away from the other people."

"Then what happens?" he asked.

"Hopefully, someone sends me another check."

ON TWITTER

  • Neal Pollack tweeted, "Dear PR person: Even though the proceeds are going to charity, I don't want to write about a "signature" Tony Hawk cupcake. Best, Neal."
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