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Search YouTube for “Tuscaloosa Tornado” and you’ll find dozens of videos. But this is one of the more harrowing. This dude is filming from the corner of McFarland and 15th street. In other words, he’s about 100 yards from being dead.

It’s an 8 minute clip and it’s worth watching in its entirety, but if you just want to see how big this tornado was, jump to the 3:35 mark.

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As many of you know, Leigh Ann and I met in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, ground zero for the recent tornado outbreak. So far, everyone I’ve talked to is okay. But here’s a photo of Charlestown Square, my old apartment complex:

I lived in a second floor apartment on the far side, in one of the units that no longer appears to exist. Sadly, the unit to the right of mine, where those idiots gave Maxine acid, appears to have survived.

Truth be told, the news coverage is starting to bother me. I keep seeing the same story over and over again. It goes like this: the reporter finds some survivor and asks them how they made it, and that person invariably says they sat in their basement and prayed for Jesus to save them. And then the blowhard reporter (I’m looking at you, Brian Williams) says something like, “I guess he heard you” or “It looks like it worked” or something equally as ridiculous. Look, I understand why this meme exists. People like to think that God is on their side and that they’re a part of the “chosen people” (hell, entire religions are based on this). But no one ever stops to consider what this myth does to the young woman, also in her basement, also praying to Jesus, who had her baby ripped out of her arms and then had to watch helplessly as debris traveling at 200 mph shredded her infant alive. God chose to save you but mutilate that infant? Bullshit, my friend. You lived for the same reason that baby died: random f%&#ing chance.

If you think that sounds a little harsh, consider this: half of these kooks think that baby is going to hell if it wasn’t baptized.

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For one week I am a childless bachelor. Leigh Ann took Nathan to Alabama to meet his relatives (no, really, click that link) while I stayed home to get some work done.

Now, I realize that in this situation you expect sordid tales of Charlie Sheen-esque debauchery. Dads Gone Wild! Tiger Blood! Winning! But the truth is I was never really a hookers and blow kind of guy. The proof of that is probably that I’m sitting here, freshly showered, perky from 8 hours of sleep, having just watched 15 consecutive minutes of television, and the one thing I’m thinking is: “Man, I miss being bossed around by that little tyrant.”

Come on back, little man. Daddy’s ready to take orders

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I play baseball on Sundays. Okay, it’s softball. And it’s co-ed. But they line the base paths and keep score and everything. At any rate, this past weekend I was standing in center field, stuffing another wad of Big League Chew in my mouth, when my life flashed before my eyes.

Because it was a particularly nice day – sunny, upper 70s, breezy – Leigh Ann and I decided to bring Nate to the game, and now she had him with her in the stands. Before I go any further, I should note that Leigh Ann is a FIERCE MAMA GRIZZLY when it comes to protecting our little man. To illustrate this point: you know that Grizzly Bear video Colbert uses in the Threatdown?

Well, that Bear would crap its pelt if it ran into Leigh Ann.

Anyhow, if you’re a parent you know what comes next – i.e. the moment where you let your guard down for one second. Someone in the stands asked Leigh Ann a question and she reflexively turned to answer. As she did, the batter – who I will not ridicule here for being unable to hit a ball pitched underhand – fouled the ball straight back, up and over the backstop, and on a direct trajectory for my 5-month-old son’s forehead.

Standing some 300 feet away, I watched this unfold the way you might watch a murder unfold through binoculars – unable to do anything but no less affected. Someone yelled. Another mother screamed. And Leigh Ann, by the grace of whoever invented pumpkin ice cream, turned her body just enough that the ball whizzed harmlessly by, thereby saving us both from a life of therapy.

Ho ho ho.

Later that night, I was flipping through channels. F/X was playing the movie Face/Off, which I’d heard was poop-on-a-stick-bad but had never actually seen. So, fool that I am, I watched the first scene. In it, Nicolas Cage is a hitman trying to take out John Travolta. He’s got Travolta in his rifle sites, but Mr. Saturday Night Fever is playing on a carousel with his son, so Cage is having a hard time finding an open shot. When at last he thinks he has one, Cage pulls the trigger — only the bullet goes in to Travolta’s back, out through his chest, and straight into the boy, knocking them both to the ground. Travolta spends the next few moments not crawling away for his life, but cradling his dead son’s body and crying.

It made me angry. Not because it’s a laughably over-acted scene – it is – or because John Travolta is the world’s most obvious closet case – he is – or because Nicolas Cage used to be in good movies – really, he did. No, it made me angry because it made me imagine what it would be like to cradle Nate that way. And in doing so I was suddenly and acutely aware that I now had an incredible vulnerability. And that I would always have it. And that hack directors like John Woo would be able to exploit it at their pleasure.

Luckily, the Final Four was on another channel.

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Apparently Mommy & Me groups do not always welcome Daddys. I was talking to a buddy the other day, another SAHD (pronounced “sad”), and the conversation went roughly like this:

HIM: I hate going.
ME: Why, what’s up?
HIM: Every time I ask a question someone rolls their eyes at me.
ME: Find another group then.
HIM: Really?
ME: Yeah. And stop asking when your kid will be old enough to play Halo.

Then, a day later, I saw a post on Baby Center about a guy who wasn’t even allowed to join a Mommy & Me group in San Francisco. San Francisco?!? Are you shitting me? San Francisco where Good Vibrations was founded? San Francisco where Harvey Milk was elected? San Francisco where they’re about to ban infant circumcision?

Is there another San Francisco in Kentucky maybe?

At any rate, I don’t have either of these guys’ problems. Mine is worse: Nate’s Mommy & Me group has officially accepted me as one of the girls. I know this for a fact because of what happened last Monday. I was standing outside the classroom making small talk with one of the other Moms when, suddenly, in the middle of our conversation about I don’t know what — probably how much poop a diaper can hold — this Mom pulled down her nursing blouse and shoved her nipple into her son’s mouth. I don’t think she even broke sentence, just kept talking.

My first thought was, “Cool, everyone has finally relaxed around me.” But a couple hours later it occurred to me that this was actually kind of depressing. What did it say about me that a strange woman thought nothing of whipping her boob out in my presence? Let’s say I really did look like George Clooney . . . or Brad Pitt . . . or that Neanderthal they’re basing the next Ken Doll on. Would she have done it then? I bet not. Which, despite my iron-clad marital status, is still a little depressing. It’s like you wipe your kid’s butt for a couple months and all the sudden you’re some eunuch who’s allowed to sleep in the same room as the virgins. “Nighty night,” the King is telling us. “If anyone is tired, Scott will give you a foot massage.”

I don’t know. I guess I’ll just keep my loin cloth pulled low and try to blend in.

Maybe no one will ever notice.

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Something terrible is happening at our house. It’s been going on for weeks, but I’ve just now found the words for it. “Daddy” is becoming synonymous with “super fun playtime” and “Mommy” is becoming synonymous with “eating and sleeping.”

What’s wrong, you ask, with having your kid think you fart rainbows? Well, the problem comes when Mommy is already passed out and it’s time to put Little Man to bed but all he wants is more rainbows. And more rainbows. And more and more rainbows.

The other night, a sleepless Leigh Ann brought Nate out for his 1 AM feeding, and this was approximately our conversation:

HER: Don’t look at him.
ME: Oops, too late.
HER: Well don’t smile at him then.
ME: Why not?
HER: Because if he sees you smiling, he’ll spend the next two hours waiting for you to play the ukulele.
ME: What if I play the piano instead?

Leigh Ann was not amused. And, in fact, she was right about the next two hours. But that’s not the point. The point is that I have been stereotyped by my own son. And as someone who has struggled his entire life with the profound disadvantage of being a college-educated white male, I’m sick and tired of it. I’m a human being, for God’s sake. I deserve better. And I will not play another chord on the ukulele, or fart another rainbow until Nate smiles at me.

All right, then. Amazing Grace or Oh When the Saints?

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Remember how I was finally getting some extended sleep? Like 5 or 6 hours at a time? Well, no more, my friends. Because a certain someone has taught himself to roll from his back to his stomach. Considering Nate’s not quite 12 weeks old, we thought it was a fluke the first time he did it. But he’s done it every night for a week now.

Instead of waking up after two hours, looking up at his monkey mobile, grunting a few times, then falling back asleep, Nate now wakes up after two hours, remembers, “Hey, I can roll over!,” turns onto his stomach, then starts screaming bloody murder.

Good morning, Vietnam!

His pediatrician tells us not to worry. He’s hitting his developmental milestones a little early, but he has good enough head control that sleeping on his stomach shouldn’t be a problem. Still, that doesn’t stop dear old Mom and Dad from glancing at the Wikipedia page for SIDS and seeing stuff like . . .

Among the theories supporting the Back to Sleep recommendation is the idea that small infants with little or no control of their heads may, while face down, inhale their exhaled breath (high in carbon dioxide) or smother themselves on their bedding—the brain-stem anomaly research (above) suggests that babies with that particular genetic makeup do not react “normally” by moving away from the pooled CO2, and thus smother. Another theory is that babies sleep more soundly when placed on their stomachs, and are unable to rouse themselves when they have an incidence of sleep apnea, which is thought to be common in infants.

Like I said, Nate has excellent head control for a 12 week old. But now I see why they say having kids makes you more conservative. Because who *doesn’t* want to play it safe when it’s your kid’s life on the line? Even if your doctor tells you it’s okay for your kid to sleep on his stomach, what happens when you wake up one morning and your kid is blue? Does that make you feel any better about it?

So, anyway, here’s what we’re going to do: 1) let Nate roll onto his stomach whenever he wants, but 2) install one of these:

Basically, it’s a pad you put under the mattress that monitors your tot’s movement and breathing. If it doesn’t detect any for 20 seconds, it emits an EAR-PIERCING SIREN sufficiently loud enough to warn your neighbors of an approaching nuclear holocaust.

Should give us some peace of mind, and it was surprisingly easy to set it up. Although, strangely, I could not find the enclosed Klonopin.

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Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, everyone. I used to live in a state that celebrated Robert E. Lee’s birthday instead, but there’s no use crying over spilled racism.

Why not celebrate your work-free day by going out and doing something nice for someone? Like that stupid Liberty Mutual commercial. Only without the ulterior motive of selling people life insurance.

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Now that I’ve been driving in Los Angeles traffic for about five years, I’m ready to draw some conclusions. The first is that there appears to be an inverse relationship between whether you drive a BMW and whether you value human life. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m toting around a 9-week-old, but I hardly want to drive through Beverly Hills anymore for fear of being cut off, given the finger, and run off the road.

It’s true, there may be a bit of class warfare in my blood. Once upon a time, I read a study that said the nicer the automobile you drive, the more leeway people give you on the road. Specifically, when a traffic light turned green and you were the first car in line and you didn’t go, researchers measured how long it took for the driver behind you to honk. If your car was worth $50,000, it took about 10 seconds. But if it was worth $1,000? About 2.

With that in mind, my new favorite game is to pull up behind a shiny BMW 3 Series and, my palm braced on the steering column, LAY ON MY GOD DAMNED HORN THE INSTANT THE LIGHT TURNS GREEN!!! And I don’t mean just honk. I mean lay on the horn like I had just been shot and fell forward dead pressed against the steering wheel. I can’t tell you how much fun this is. Until, that is, the incensed driver of the BMW cuts me off, gives me the finger, and runs me off the road.

They can’t help it. It just comes natural to them.

Exhibit A.

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. . . And We’re Back

Apologies for my absence. But I have a good excuse: I had to live temporarily. Hopefully you were too drunk on eggnog — or too hopped up on pumpkin spice lattes — to notice. If not, if you’re the person who refreshed this blog 37 times on December 26th, then my most heartfelt apologies.

Really, it’s for the greater good. Not to start 2011 off too pretentiously, but one of my favorite Hemingway quotes is from the preface to his short stories collection, where Papa says:

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.

Or translated for Twitter: the more stupid crap you do, the more stupid crap you have to write about.

So let’s get on with it.

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