Monday, January 28, 2008

Bella the Guitar Hero Pt 2


Yes, Isabella rocks both through the day, through the night, and in the wee morning hours. That's our daughter!

We had a pretty good weekend, I decided to pick up a second class on Saturday afternoons for the next 8 weeks, so hopefully that will pass quickly. I'll be an expert in household electrical wiring after that is done, so if any of you need any wiring done, I'm sure you'd be more than willing to trust your home in my hands, right?

Yeah, me neither. Michele and I got to go on a date to see Cloverfield on Saturday. I loved it, Michele almost puked in the theater, so it was good times all around. For those who may have seen the movie, I have to share that I was pretty amused listening to a guy leaving the theater in the row in front of us, saying to his buddies "I didn't understand it." He must get pretty confused reading Garfield in the morning too.

Bella's now big enough that she doesn't even need to sit in her high chair at home any more, so she's graduated to getting her own dining room chair, which is of course covered as much as possible.

She's getting closer and closer to being fully fledged in her terrible twos, but she's also getting great at saying sentences and everything. We counted a four word sentence tonight! We're expecting her to finish her first novel by the end of the year, so publishers, please feel free to contact us now and make your first offers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Isabella Pacyna: Guitar Hero




It's only a matter of time until she's kicking my ass in that game...

Friday, January 18, 2008

It Was Good While It Lasted

It looks like Bella now has a new obsession. It may actually be replacing Sesame Street as her favorite thing in the world. I regret to say, sadly, that it is nowhere near as entertaining as Sesame Street. It appears as though Bella's new favorite thing is.... TELETUBBIES...

I guess it all started in her previous room at day care, they have some Telebubbies hat there that she loves, and although we've never watched the show before last week, she somehow remembered it. Michele decided to show her an episode of the show earlier this week, and all we hear now at home is Bella requesting "TUBBIES!"

For those of you who have been spared the pain of having to sit through one of the episodes, I'll do my best to summarize it for you. Which episode? Doesn't matter, every single one is the same damn thing anyways. The best way I can sum it up is, you might have a good idea of what the show is like if you've ever had one of those fevers where your temperature spiked to about 103 degrees, and you began hallucinating and were aware of the fact.

The show starts off kindly enough, there's a baby's face in the sun rising over a mountain. This part is at least amusing for us, since Bella loves seeing the baby, and when you ask her what the baby says, she goes "goo goo da da." Then things get weird...

My best guess would be that the creators of this show have done some SERIOUS drugs in their lifetimes. The four fat blobs known as the Teletubbies then wander around for a good 5 minutes or so doing god knows what, then they stop and show an "educational" video of some sort. The one with the kid petting a pony educated me in ways I can't begin to fathom.

At this point, either the drugs have seriously kicked in for the people on the show, or one of them used the script for a rolling paper, since they cut back to the fat blobs, and then go right back and show THE EXACT SAME VIDEO ALL OVER AGAIN.

Remember again that time when you were hallucinating from the fever, and you thought that your vacuum cleaner was talking to you and following you around the house?? Well guess what? It was, and it's now on this friggin' show! They pretty much spend another ten minutes or so chasing the damn vacuum around, or it's chasing them or something, I seriously don't know since I usually have flashbacks at this point from some drugs I've never done while watching this.

Finally, at about the 55 minute mark of the half hour show, they begin saying good night. I say "they begin," since this entire procedure seems to last for roughly another 35 minutes or so from there.

The thing that really disturbs me is that when we watch it both on On Demand through our cable and through the recorded airings, there's a bizarre black vertical bar on the side of the screen that looks like it's just white noise, but I personally believe that is how they are brainwashing the kids and will attempt to carry out some bizarre plot to take over the world. Frightening stuff people.

Compared to the fat blobs, watching Elmo is like watching Seinfeld in its prime. We're hoping and praying that this phase ends soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bella's Adventure This Weekend


We've started off our round of kid's birthday parties this past Saturday at a party for our friends Frank and Julie's daughter Gracie. Gracie is only 2 months older than Bella, so they're able to keep up with each other pretty well, but they had a special challenge for it this weekend.

They had the part for Gracie at a place called Pump It Up very close to our house in Schaumburg. It's pretty much a kid's paradise, it's filled with those giant blow-up outdoor slides and bouncing rooms and that sort of thing. I think a wise parent must have designed the idea in order to have a place where you can guarantee that your kid will be passed out cold later that night.

Bella was a little hesitant to try out most of the "rides" for lack of a better word, but after a while she got the hang of it and was loving it. We then moved to the second room with the 15 foot slide, and Bella was in heaven.

Bella spent most of that hour having us lug her up the slide and heading back down again, and she even did it all by herself once too.

Thankfully, the theme of the place worked, Bella was passed out pretty quickly that night. Of course her mommy and daddy passed out pretty quickly as well.

Take a look at a quick video we did of one of Bella's trips down the slide below...



video

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

OUR BIG NEWS!


We have one pretty big piece of news we're finally happy to share....

WE'VE FINALLY SOLD OUR CONDO!!

We got an offer back at the end of December which was thankfully right in the range that we were hoping for. We went through all the fun inspection stuff and that sort of thing, and after going back and forth on the price for a bit, everything is now set in stone, and we are ready to get rid of it!

We've had it on the market for 7 months, which is painful, but it could have been a heck of a lot worse, we know plenty of people who have had theirs on sale for over a year. We're happy we're now only paying two mortgages instead of three every month (we have to count daycare as a mortgage, trust me, it costs that much).

The official closing will be happening around mid-February, but that will be here before we know it. We've been holding on to some gift certificates for some good restaurants to have celebration dinners, we can finally bust those out and eat some big fat steaks to celebrate. So that is the good news for us...

And the great news for me, I ordered a PS3, and it arrived today! So if you need me, I'll be here at home playing Rock Band.

Monday, January 7, 2008

More fun and games over here



Another weekend flew by in a millisecond for us. We stayed home for the most part and enjoyed the balmy 50 degree weather rolling into the Chicago area. Welcome to April everyone! What's that, it's January 6th?? What??

Bella played in the last of the snow with Mommy while I took down the last of our Christmas decorations. We stocked up during the clearance sales, so the outside of our house will look even gaudier next year. I can't wait!

Bella had a good playdate with her friends Kayleigh, T.J. and Morgan on Sunday morning. You can see some of the pictures from it on our Shutterfly page as always, the link is on the left side of the page. There was plenty of mayhem and kids running around and everything in sight being colored by a marker or crayon. Good times.

Our last treat for the day is a video of Bella showing off the wicked dance moves we have promised. I have an old Casio keyboard that she has been messing around with every day, and she discovered the "Demo" button on it that plays music automatically. You can see the results here:

video

Friday, January 4, 2008

My Own Private Dilbert



Just to give you an idea of how our management has been handling things at my office lately, this was the highlight of my day so far. I just got chewed out during a meeting for doing too much work.

No, that wasn't a typo, you didn't misread that, that is correct for saying "too much" work. Yeah.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Our Christmas and New Years

As you could probably guess, we had a pretty great time this Christmas and New Years. Bella of course made off like a bandit, she mostly got lots of books, enough now to start her own library pretty much. You can see Michele's blog for the list of all the amazing things she's done lately, we have to mention that she does lots and lots of dancing lately, and even tries singing along to all sorts of songs now. For your viewing pleasure (and to see how well the video posts work on this page), here's Isabella doing a duet of "Jingle Bells" with Elmo. Enjoy

video

We got to spend Christmas day with my mom, and Bella had loads of fun showing Grandma all of her toys and having a big dinner with us. Grandma G then flew into town the next day, and Bella got to spend lots of quality time catching up with Grandma. She wowed her with her A, B, C's and counting ability pretty quickly. We all went to Brookfield Zoo one night too for their holiday light show, which was a lot of fun, although a bit on the cold side.

We luckily planned on staying home and taking it easy this New Years, which turned out to be a really great decision, since we ended up getting at least 4 inches of snow that night. Bella used to be hesitant about playing in the snow (even though she absolutely loves snowmen), but in the last week she's become a fan of it.


Of course her favorite thing is throwing snowballs at Daddy. What a girl.

Repost - Top Albums of 2007 Numbers 12 to 1

Best albums of 2007 - Numbers 12 to 1


Here we are, the moment you have all been anxiously awaiting, my pick for the top 12 albums of 2007:


12. Battles – Mirrored – An amazing experimental set of bizarre instrumental prog rock. “Battles” was one of the best songs and videos from the entire year, and their live performance at the Pitchfork fest proved they could pull off their complex sound live.


11. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Baby 81 – This was a gem from very early on in the year think lingered through most of the months, where BRMC returned to their bluesy rumbling sound after their more acoustic last album. A very welcome return to form.


10. Bloc Party – A Weekend in the City – Another great album released early in the year that shouldn’t be forgotten, these Brits refined their sound on this album. Songs like “I Still Remember,” “Hunting for Witches” and “The Prayer” were great examples of their sound, but my personal favorite was “Waiting for the 7:18,” which shifts from a simple xylophone line in the verses to a monstrous guitar driven chorus.


9. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – Austin, TX’s pride and joy, Britt Daniel and company continue to prove they are one of the best bands in the indie rock world. Winners of my award for Best Album Title of the Year (derived from a description of the piano sound in “The Ghost of You Lingers”), the band goes from the horn-infused shuffle of “The Underdog” to the masterpiece “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb,” which sounds like an unearthed relic from the heyday of Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound.


8. Jimmy Eat World – Chase This Light – As with Yellowcard, it’s a shame that radio and critics largely ignore this band and their consistently solid rock. “Big Casino” is one of my favorites of the year, although I’m not sure how a band from Arizona can call themselves “a New Jersey success story”… “Here It Goes” is a great hidden gem that could be a great dance song if only the world would notice.


7. White Stripes – Icky Thump – I’ve been on the fence on this band in the past, I thought they were usually good, but not one of the greatest in the world like most critics try to make them seem. Icky Thump is the first evidence I’ve seen that could easily justify that claim. From the incredible stomp of the title track, to the great gear-shifting from flamenco guitar to roaring, squealing guitar solos in “300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues,” and the mandolin and stomping drums in “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn,” this is a classic all the way through.


6. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible – Back in 2004, the Arcade Fire came out of nowhere (okay, Montreal at least) to stun the indie rock world with their debut Funeral. Released earlier this year, Neon Bible proved that they were no hoax. Win Butler and his giant band pull together great rumbling tracks like “Keep the Car Running” and “Black Mirror,” while adding some passionate performances like “Windowsill” and “(Antichrist Television Blues).” “No Cars Go” still stands out as the greatest song on the album, I’m amazed this still hasn’t been released as a single yet.


5. Bruce Springsteen – Magic – As much as I am a fan of the Boss, I was not a fan of his last album of new material, The Rising (which of course ended up winning plenty of Grammys). He returns to fine form on Magic, a passionate driven and unapologetic look at our country. The album opens with the classic “Radio Nowhere,” and tosses in some classic sounding Springsteen material (“You’ll Be Comin’ Down,” “I’ll Work for Your Love”) along with bright sing alongs like “Girls in the Summer Clothes,” and closes up with the moody and impassioned “Last to Die” and “Devil’s Arcade.” A true classic.


4. Against Me! - New Wave – This one came out of nowhere to become one of my absolute favorites of the year by far. A great massive punk album deeply indebted to the Clash, it’s filled with great fist-pumping anthems with a social conscience. Probably the greatest rock moment of the year is in “Thrash Unreal,” as the song barrels into the line “She can still hear that “Rebel Yell”/Just as loud as it was in 1983.”


3. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver – I usually know what my favorite cd is on any given week by knowing what cd I want to pop in on Friday morning on the drive to work. Sound of Silver was that cd for a very healthy chunk of the year, as the incredible dance rock never failed to sound fresh and catchy as hell. Songs like “Time to Get Away” and “Us V Them” keep things going with a great grove, while “Someone Great” sounds like a missing Postal Service gem. The standout is “All My Friends,” a nearly 8 minute track that is nearly the same minimal piano track throughout but bubbles into a massive singalong by the end.


2. Radiohead – In Rainbows – Like NIN’s Year Zero, this one deserves as much of a place on the list for everything that led up to it, not just for the quality of the music on it. Fans of the band had been drooling over the prospect of a new album from the band, and just when it looked like we’d have to wait for 2008 to hear it, Jonny Greenwood, the band’s guitarist, posted a simple message on their website in October saying “the album is finished, it’ll be out next week.” This sent a massive tidal wave through the music industry, which had already taken a beating in declining cd sales over the last few years.
Since the band is now without a record label, they simply released it themselves and allowed fans to pay what they wanted for the download. A pretty brave and risky concept, luckily the songs were worth any money fans may have paid. I would actually call this the band’s most accessible album probably since The Bends, as the songs are mostly mellower and sidestep much of the experimental sounds they embraced on Kid A. Thom Yorke has much more control over his voice, and even croons on a few songs. My favorite track is “Bodysnatchers,” one of the livelier songs that is more reminiscent of their great past guitar epics.


1. The National – Boxer – Every year, there seems to be one album that has some special indefinable magical quality about it that makes it stand out from the rest. That can be said for 2007 for the album Boxer by Ohio’s The National. From the opening piano of “Fake Empire” to the gentle closer “Gospel,” there’s not a wasted note on the album. The way most people describe the album is it’s the perfect cd when you’ve been out drinking all night and get home around 2 am to begin slowly pre-nursing your oncoming hangover.
Lead singer Matt Berninger shines as the breakout star of the year, with his near-growl bassy voice staying just steps ahead of Tom Wait’s guttural growl, as he sings fantastic lines like “Hold ourselves together/With our arms around the stereo/for hours/la la la la la/ while it sings to itself or whatever it does/ while it sings to itself of long lost love” on one of the best tracks, “Apartment Song.” Drummer Bryan Devendorf also proves to be an invaluable member of the band, propelling songs like “Guest Room” and “Squalor Victoria” along with his creative complex beats.
Do yourself a favor, PICK UP THIS CD. A few years from now people will catch on to this band and realize what a treasure they are. Boxer alone should be ample evidence.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Repost - Top Albums of 2007 Numbers 25 to 13

(A friend sent me this image and said it reminded them of me for some reason. I have no idea why...)

Best Albums of 2007 - Numbers 25 through 13


25. Sigur Ros – Hvarf/Heim – Technically, this isn’t really a new album, it’s one ep made of rare tracks from their past, the other ep is a selection of live performances the band did of their songs around various venues in Iceland for their new dvd. Since they can pretty much do no wrong in my book, and the songs sound amazing in the new context, I had to include this.


24. The Terrible Twos – If You Ever See an Owl… - Regular readers know that this is Isabella’s favorite album of the year by far, I have to say that Michele and I both enjoyed it greatly, partly to see Bella learn the songs and partly because the songs are actually enjoyable kid songs that you don’t want to beat your head open after hearing them 10 times over.

23. Feist – The Reminder – I know, I’m nearly as sick of everyone else of “1 2 3 4” thanks to those damn iPod commercials, but I was telling you about this album back in May before the commercials ever appeared. She still has an enchanting voice and is a great performer live, so all is forgiven.


22. Band of Horses – Cease to Begin – This is the second really solid album from this band in two years, as they are continuing to hone their Neil Young/Flaming Lips inspired sound into their own. “A Ghost in My House” has got to be the best song of the year made up of less than 20 words.


21. The Frames – The Cost - I first found out about the Frames by wandering over to the north lawn during the midday at Lollapalooza 2006. It was the first time I had ever heard them, and yet I and several thousand other newcomers were already singing along to the choruses of their songs in no time flat. This album has the full band version of “Falling Slowly,” the song performed by lead singer Glen Hansard in the gorgeous movie “Once.”


20. Wilco – Sky Blue Sky – It was kind of sad to see Wilco move away from their “experimental” sound of their previous two albums (but don’t dare ever call them that in front of lead man Jeff Tweedy). However, this one sounds like a great lost album that Van Morrison never made, with some amazing guitar work by the band’s new secret weapon, Nels Cline.


19. Common – Finding Forever – Yes, you read that correctly, you might want to rub your eyes again to double check, but a rap album actually made it on to my best of the year list. Released on almost the same day as his producer’s (Kanye West), this is a great listen from beginning to end, bringing to mind what Marvin Gaye might sound like if he were still around today. “Drivin’ Me Wild” is without one of the best songs of the year.


18. Yellowcard – Paper Houses – It’s a shame that radio and rock critics both somehow ignore this band, who are capable of making some amazing and incredibly catchy rock. I realize I’m probably one of the few people in the world that will put this on their year end list, but I’ll take their pop-punk sound any day of the week.


17. Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist - I was worried that this album was going to follow in the path of Billy Corgan’s extremely disappointing solo album. Thankfully it didn’t, as Corgan returned to the bombastic rock that was a trademark of the old SP at their best. Not his best work by far, but it definitely holds up over a number of listens.


16. M.I.A. – Kala – So you’re looking for an album to test out the bass on your new Bose stereo at home? Pop this one on and watch your valuables tumble off of your shelving from the resulting sound. Definitely one of the more unique sounding artists out there right now, this one is only hindered by a clunker or two that demand the skip button on the cd player every time.


15. Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – Living with the Living – The man that should be known as New Jersey’s younger pride and joy (that other guy will appear higher on the list) put together yet another great album of his power trio anthems. You can’t possibly go wrong with songs like “Sons of Cain,” “C.I.A.” and “Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.”


14. The Polyphonic Spree – The Fragile Army – This album probably came as the biggest surprise of the year for me over all. The Spree have always functioned best as a live force, with 25 or so musicians all giddily stomping out lead man Tim Delaughter’s songs, although the songs were never quite up to par with the energy that the band put out for them. The Fragile Army reversed that trend, finally displaying a great set of songs to match the mad energy of the live show, with incredible songs like “Running Away” and “The Championship” giving the band a better opportunity to make their live shows even more unforgettable.

13. Fall Out Boy - Infinity on High – These guys were sadly the most picked on band in the press, overshadowing the fact that Infinity on High is a great power pop record from beginning to end. Anyone who denies that they didn’t love “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race” from the first few listens is flat out lying to your face. They could probably still release “Hum Hallelujah” and “Thriller” as great hit singles and keep this one going for the better part of the next year.

Repost - Top Albums of 2007 Runner-ups

Since the Yahoo blog editor hacked this entry to pieces, here's a repost that you can actually read clearly:

Best Albums of 2007 - Runners-Up
This was such an incredible year for music, I was not only able to come up with a list of my top 25 favorite albums of 2007 (to follow soon), I even had 28 albums that deserved honorable mention that could have each made my top 25. Yes, that's right 28 more albums! Here they are, in no particular order:

Kanye West – Graduation - There were some terrific songs on his album (most notably the hit "Stronger"), but I skip through about half of the cd every time I listen now.

Hot Hot Heat – Happiness Ltd. - Another great set of songs from the young Canucks, with some great production by Butch Walker, who thankfully hasn't lost his touch.

Straylight Run – The Needle The Space - Their major label debut had some fantastic songs ("Buttoned Down," "The First of the Century"), but again it drags in some spots.

John Fogerty – Revival - A great return to form, possibly the angriest anti-Bush album of the year, too bad it didn't arrive back in 2004.

Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger - When he's on, Adams easily proves that he is one of the greatest songwriters of his generation ("Two," "Halloweenhead,"Goodnight Rose"). He'll most likely release another couple of albums in 2008 to hopefully cement this.

Thrice – The Alchemy Index Vol. 1 and 2 - The first half of an ambitious experiment to base an ep's worth of songs on each of the four basic element. We'll find out how the second half is next year.

Office – A Night at the Ritz - A very solid debut by the young Chicago band.

Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris - When Josh Homme & Co. put on the full on rock (as in "Sick, Sick, Sick"), they are without a doubt one of the best rock bands out there now. Too bad the whole album isn't like that.

Motion City Soundtrack – Even if it Kills Me - Not the best album by these young Minneapolis-based pop/punkers, but still better than most out there.

New Pornographers – Challengers - Carl Newman and his rotating band can write absolutely amazing songs like "My Rights Versus Yours," "Myriad Harbour" and "Mutiny, I Promise You" with incredible harmonies that get super glued in your head.

Steve Earle – Washington Square Serenade - I honestly only recently picked this one up, but from the first listen, it sounds like classic Earle material, which is a very good thing.

Matt Pond PA – Last Light

Angels & Airwaves – I-Empire

Serj Tankian – Elect the Dead

Josh Rouse – Country Mouse, City House

Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future

Idlewild – Make Another World

Bright Eyes – Casadaga - For the first few months of the year, this one was in constant rotation for me, but it slowly faded out after a while. Conner Oberest is another of the best songwriters of his time, and I expect to hear much greater things from him.

Tori Amos – American Doll Posse

Peter Bjorn & John – Writer’s Block - There was much more to this one than the ubiquitous summer hit "Young Folks," but sadly these guys will most likely be filed in the one hit wonder pile in the future.

Mika – Life In Cartoon Motion - Ridiculously catchy songs like "Grace Kelly" and "Love Today" show that this guy is a worthy successor to Freddie Mercury's throne. Definitely one to watch in the future.

Lily Allen – Alright Still

The Fratellis – Costello Music

Albert Hammond Jr. – Yours To Keep - Hammond proved he is the secret hidden weapon of the Strokes, with his solid solo debut. Sounds as though we'll see his next solo album before we'll see another Strokes album, so that isn't such a bad thing.

Explosions in the Sky - All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone - A great debut instrumental album, mixing the best parts of Hum and Sigur Ros.

Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero - This one deserves as much credit for the songs as for the ambitious and creative marketing strategy backing it up.

The Pipettes – We Are the Pipettes - An incredibly catchy set heavily indebted to the classic girl group sounds of the 1950's. Oh yeah, they're pretty fun to look at too!

And that was just the list of albums that ALMOST made my "best of 2007" list. Not a shabby year at all.

Welcome to MookieDaddy v2.0

Hello all,

As promised a few months back, MookieDaddy info headquarters is being relocated here to blogger.com, home to such bastions of information as Chatchi's blog and my sister and brother-in-law's website, which will now have the inenviable task of handling the massive amount of internet traffic heading to read my blog. Good luck folks.

I'll be customizing the page over the next couple of weeks, so hold your complaints off for a bit, I know you'll have a few. I won't be updating the Yahoo page anymore, it was pretty limited in functionality, and I couldn't even get the font sizes to work by the end. Oh well.

Just to make your internet surfing lives even more difficult, we're moving our photos web page from our Snapfish page to our brand spaking new page on Shutterfly.com. Trying to keep you all on your toes! We switched to Shutterfly since the printouts from Snapfish were not up to par with the ones you can print at Target from Shutterfly. I'll be posting the link to our Shutterfly page soon.

As a special service to you all, I'll even copy over my list of my favorites from 2007, just so you won't wear out your mouse clicking back and forth between the two pages. You can thank me later.