Monday, July 02, 2018


My favorite activity of the summer thus far has been taking the kids swimming and frolicking in the Gunpowder river, which is about 20 minutes from our house.  We first went on Saturday morning, when it was just us and one other family hanging out there.  Then tonight the Jeanners and I decided that there would be time after dinner for a family outing there.  Tonight there were about 75 other folks there.  We seem to prefer a spot that must be some sort of unposted Hispanic swimming hole, because everytime we go there, we seem to be the only native English speakers there.  I kind of enjoy it that way.  I always think of this Carl Sandburg poem when I'm there:


I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
    me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
    thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
    I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
    the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
    their women and children and a keg of beer and an

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


My new drug of choice is the voice of Mary Maddux.  It's how I imagine heroin would be.

Dinosaur Train

My children are currently watching Dinosaur Train on the bed next to me, and the conductor is singing a ridiculous song called Troodon Night Train. 

I'm laying in bed freaking out a little, worrying because the set I'm currently building for our outdoor show has two large, rolling walls, and I'm concerned abiut how to make them wind-proof.  I believe my fear of the wind is well documented (and well ridiculed). 

I set up a small bookshelf next to my bed.  It's one that we took out of the kids' room in an effort to reduce the amount of crap in there.  Anyway, I was able to bring a bunch of my fav books down from the attic and now have them available for my perusal. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Deep throat

I have strep throat.  It has not been accompanied by severe symptoms, so I haven't minded it too much.  Just a slight sore throat, some headachyness, and super tired a lot of the time. 

I'm nearing the end of the season at work, which is flippin' awesome.  I just have to build the summer set.  Start on Tuesday.  Hoping for dry weather.  It's been a wet spring, so far, and I'm hoping that doesn't continue. 

Me and the Jeanners are working on many projects at our house.  Spending a good chunk of money.  Trying to clean shit up.  Trying to get rid of stuff.  Get rid of what's not working. 

Samuel is growing up to be quite the kid.  Super smart, super sensitive, a little wild at times, communicative, but all-in-all a good kid who has a kind heart. 

Anna Banana is a smiling, funny, independent, at times tantrummy girl who adores her brother, loves superheroes, and is completely and hopelessly addicted to her pacifier, "Beeba."

I have learned that I just can't handle drinking G&T's anymore.  It fucks with my sleep and generally sends my mood into the toilet.  So I have been attempting to abstain.  So far, so good.  I'll probably end up having one now and again, but I just can't handle it being a regular thing. 

Here's what I want for father's day:  a power washer.  Because our house is in danger of becoming completely engulfed in spiderwebs. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Love is in the Air

Today my boy told me he has a crush on a girl at school.  I asked him what it was like.  He said they stared at each other for a long time, and it was really awkward.

It begins.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Might I recommend the Original Penguin "Bing" polo shirt.

We are in the swing of summer.  Had a trip to the Lou (highlights:  Mossy, zoo visits, my sister's house, and my niece's wedding).  Too much 24/7 kid time in relatively small spaces.

Samuel has become a swimming machine.  Ever since he learned how (a few days before the trip), he's wanted to go swimming just about every day.  It's fun to watch him because he loves it so much and he works so hard at it.

Struck the set for the summer show.  It went very smoothly and the weather for working outside was lovely.  Last year it was about 100 degrees and it sucked.  This year, low 80's.

For the last few weeks, I've been reading this.  It definitely reminds me of some DFW stuff.

Anna Banana is definitely becoming a 2 year old, in the best and worst ways.  Super cute, super fun, and then melting down into a little pot of boiling emotions.  Perhaps I've just mixed some cooking metaphors with all the boiling and melting, but the point is, she starts whining and crying a lot.

Got to go down to DC and have dinner with K-Torr last night.  Every 6 or 7 years he comes for a conference, and he's always been good about letting us know when he's in town.  So good to see him.  A lovely man with a heart to match his feet.  (Both very large).

Friday, July 07, 2017

Dummer than a Dummy

I would like you to know that this blog isn't worth a god-damn thing to advertisers.  They just don't know what the people want!  The people want to know about my poop!

Also, Samuel has been working real hard at learning to swim.  It has been my experience that when he works real hard at something, he usually gets it within a week or two.  

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Smarter Than a Dummy

Last night the Missus and I watched Highway to Heaven.  It was pretty bad.  But, it was the first of a two-part episode, and I'm sure we'll end up watching the second part.  So who's pretty bad now, huh?
Michael Landon's mother was Catholic and his father was Jewish, by the way.  We had to look that shit up.  Also, there was a Little House episode featuring a Jewish character.  Had to look that shit up, too.

The Jeanners has reduced her Habishmatt workload down to 1+ days a week, and so far it seems pretty nice, although my workload has also greatly been reduced because it's summer, which has been adding to the pretty-niceness.   So it's shaping up to be a nice summer.  Looking forward to our trip to the Lou and also for our camping trip planned for August.

Working on taking in fewer calories.  Also keeping up with the running.  I got out of shape during the build for the summer show and now I need to get my distance and endurance back up to speed.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Schmancho Schmelaxo

Had a fantastic weekend in the hills/mountains of W. Virginia, hidden away in a rental cabin with the Schluetermetz'.  A couple of days in a cute, perfectly sized A-frame in the woods, complete with beautiful community pool and hot tub.  It was not roughing it, but it was a great time with friends in a relaxing and beautiful setting.  Highlights of the trip for me:  a soak and massage at Berkeley Springs state park, and hanging out at the pool watching Jack, Henry, and Samuel playing together and having a great time, and sitting in the hot tub with the 3 of them.

We are now 1 week into Jeannie's exit from her job, and the jury's still out.  I know life has felt less hectic, but I also know that she doesn't want to leave completely.  She's still going to be working a little bit, but neither one of us knows how much or what that's going to look like.  So I think we're just kind of playing it by ear and seeing what happens.  Which I'm fine with.  I just want her to feel like she's getting what she wants out of her life, and I want us both to feel less crazed and completely frazzled all the time.  

Tried running to and from work last week.  It was tougher than I thought it would be.  I made it, but I was definitely sore for a few days afterwards.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Restoring Balance to the Force

Jeannie's ending her job on Friday.  My show opens on Friday.  We're looking ahead at a summer time of trips, camping, and hopefully some relaxation and quality time with the children.

I had a decent set build this year.  The design came together quickly, over the course of about a day, and despite the fact that the crew was mostly inexperienced, turned out pretty decently.

Samuel went through a phase that was very difficult, where every time he wasn't getting his way he would immediately and completely melt down, but he seems to be coming out of that phase, which is wonderful.  Anna seems to be entering a similar phase, which is normal for a two-year-old, I guess.  

I'm going to try and run to and from work as much as possible this summer.  It's only 5 and a half miles, so I should be able to do it.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017


The other night I had a dream in which Tom Petty told me that his secret to staying so thin was pooping a lot.  I told him that I approved of his method/philosophy.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

My Father's Meat

Well, J-Dog turned in her notice at her job yesterday.  A big step for the O'Brandersons.   She will be spending more time with the kiddos, helping at Samuel's school (whatever that school may be next year), and generally just trying to reclaim a little time and brain space to devote to making the life we want for ourselves and our family.

At the very least, it is exciting and scary and should keep life interesting.

In other news, my job is in a little bit of a lull from the crazy busy-ness that has been swirling around this Spring.  I've got a few weeks of prep time before I start building for the summer show.

I just said this sentence to someone:  "Baloney is my father's meat."  Which seemed like a funny sentence.

My kids are driving me a little nutty, but damn, they're cute.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whistler's Mother

I think the best feeling in the world is when you finally get to go to the bathroom after you've had to hold it for awhile.   Maybe you were worried that you were going to poop in your pants while you were driving or something.

Also, Samuel has learned how to whistle after working at it diligently for about a week.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Radioactive Wife

On Thursday, Jeannie took her radioactive iodine pill and has been sequestered at an idyllic cottage that she rented for the last 3 days.  She'll come home tomorrow.  Me and the kiddos will be ready for her triumphant return.

Tonight I babysat two kids from our babysitting co-op for an overnight gig.  All went well, except for Samuel being a big 'ol douche all night.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Overloaded baked potato

That's what my brain feels like:  an overloaded baked potato.  Too many shows this spring.

I spent the day with Samuel today because he was a bit sick last night and we wanted to keep an eye on him.  We had a good time. The best time, of course, being the 2 hour nap in the middle of the day.  But even the awake time was good, too.  He's settling down a bit, just a bit, as he gets older, and he's so damned smart.   It's really fun to talk with him about space or dinosaurs and hear the crazy shit his brain comes up with.

Anyway, I just wanted to write a little bit because I'm tired of not writing.

I've been doing TERRIBLY on my New Years' resolution to smile more.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Little Known Facts (or, You Know What, Beyonce? I'm Gonna Have to Poop in a Minute)

1.  Nothing makes me have to pee more than getting into the shower at the YMCA.

2.  Whenever I microwave something, I microwave it for 55 seconds, no matter what it is.

Also, I've started wearing skinny pants and they make me feel about 10 years younger.  What's next, man capris?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Gin and Diarrhea

Million dollar idea:

Diet book called "The Diarrhea Diet."

Subtitle:  "Pooping Out the Pounds."

Sub-Subtitle:  "Shit Yourself Slim."

In other news, Anna has gone pee-pee on the potty.  We had a snow day where everybody was off work.  Jeannie's gonna have a cancer treatment where she's radioactive for a few days.  I feel overworked and ready for a vacation.

I'm totally in love with everyone in my immediate family, and listening to StoryCorps has made me worry about their death and makes me want to tell them I love them like every second of every day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Jeannie is asleep in Samuel and Anna's room, fell asleep while putting S down to bed.  The past couple of nights I've gotten phone calls in the middle of the night, the fire alarm company telling me that there's a trouble alarm from the dialer at the new building.   Makes for a tough night of sleep.

I had a meeting to figure out how much I should get paid to manage the new building.  I actually stood up for myself for a change; valued my own time.  Maybe it will mean Jeannie can quit her job after the summer.  Maybe not.  We'll see.

Life is mucho weird.  J's gonna be turning 40 soon.  She's gotta have a radioactive treatment later in the spring.  We have two kids.  Our parents are getting old.  I feel very similar to the way I felt my junior year of high school.

Thursday, January 05, 2017


Sorry I called you all assholes.  I was drunk.

I've been running.  Since August.  Been loving it.  Got a good running mix that has been letting me experience music the way I used to.  Kind of a total body euphoria.  I'm up to about 6 miles, although sometimes I feel like I could go farther.  The tricky part is finding the time, because right now the only time I seem to be able to find is like 8:30 to 9:30 at night, through the neighborhood and around a local lake, which doesn't always seem to be 100% safe.  If I start going farther, then my end time will just get pushed later and later, which doesn't necessarily seem like a good idea.

Work is a little crazy lately -- finishing a building renovation, preparing for an upcoming conference that we're hosting, designing and building a show, etc.  Been listening to some meditations on my phone to keep me sane and help me sleep.

I can't wait till little Anna gets a few years older.  She's gonna be one hell of a person.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Fuck All You Assholes!!!!!

My New Year's Resolutions:

1.  Get back to zen.  Meditation, do nothing, wabi sabi.  Fuck it, basically.

2.  Master the Instant Pot.  Cook some weird shit.   Cook real food.

3.  Smile more.  Smiling makes everything better.  Shit is pretty good.  Enjoy it and stop worrying            about it.   It'll all get done.  No problem.

Oh, how I enjoyed seeing Jen and Brad.  And Eric Elzeepoo.  It would have been good to see Uncle Rico but it was not meant to be on this trip.  Sounds like he has a new job?

I have a beat and some chords in my head.  Wonder if it'll ever get put on tape (or whatever the digital equivalent of tape is these days).

I'm feeling really hopeful right now.  2017 is shaping up to be a year of punching things in the dick!  In a good way.

I'm also going to try and write here more, but I've said that before.

It felt so good to go back to work today after spending 2 weeks with my children.  It probably only felt that good because nobody else was there and I got to listen to music while taking a set apart.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Yesterday morning, when Samuel came into our room at 6:30, still in his PJ's, I told him that Donald Trump had won the election.  He climbed into bed next to me and said one word:


I can't think of anything more elegant or more fitting than that to say on the subject, so I won't.

Life speeds along.   Samuel seems to be maturing a bit - fewer tantrums and more frequently kind to and entertained by his sister.  Anna is a sweet little cutie - a singer and a dancer and a smiler.  Their recent enjoyment is to climb up on the couch and bounce their heads against the back while listening to music.

The biggest hurdle right now (with the exception of trying to figure out how to navigate a crumbling democracy that will no doubt be replaced by roving bands of armed white-power hooligans) is figuring out how to cut through our family members' various schedules.  Jeannie's work has become somewhat engaging and fulfilling again, which means that she actually has a reason to spend time there, and my work still keeps me there sometimes for long stretches, and Samuel's in school 5 days now, and Anna's in daycare some days, etc etc etc.

So the trick is finding time for Jeannie and I to spend time together, and just be like normal people instead of crazy parent-people.

Worked on a cool set that I didn't design.  It was a pain to build and drove me a little bit crazy, but it ended up working, so I'm pleased.

Also designed and built the set for Othello, about which I felt 'meh.'

Monday, October 03, 2016


Million-dollar idea:

albino band-aids.

I had this idea either very late last night or very early this morning.

Monday, September 12, 2016

With the Door Open

Right now Anna and Kenny are taking well-deserved long naps, and I just woke up from same.  Kenny is our friend/babysitter's kid, with whom we trade babysitting (and by that I mean we trade babysitting with the babysitter, not with Kenny).

I had a long weekend at work with Othello.   It's not our best set, but it's not our worst set.  There are things I would definitely do differently if I were doing it over, but I just don't have time to redo for this production.  I will say that the costumes took this show for a radical left-turn that I don't think the rest of us adjusted enough for it once it happened.  But anyway, the set looks mostly like the design, so I'm happy.

I am looking forward to this show being up and running so I get to hang out with my boo again.  Also, so I can get crackin' on our basement half-finishing.

Not sure what to do with Anna and Kenny with the rest of our afternoon, although I'm thinking it's going to be a trip to the grocery store to buy bacon and then pick up Samuel from school.  I've still been doing a decent job with running and trying to eat better, although working all weekend didn't help the healthy eating thing.   But, still, I'm feeling good and feeling excited about keeping it going.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

I'll Tell You What I DON'T Want To Bring...

I just got back from a late night run.  A tree branch scratched me in the head.  Or on the head, rather.  The running is feeling good.  I want to get back to my long runs of '08, but I'm not sure I have the time for it.  Back then I used to run for like 2 hours at a time, but now I'm lucky if I can scrape together 45 minutes, and to do that I usually need to go before 6AM or after 9PM.

It's been weird lately, but not necessarily in a bad way.  The Dude has started Pre-K at the local Baltimore City Public School, which is 5 days a week, and he wears a little uniform, and it's a little bit less cushy than his old preschool was.  So he's still adjusting.  The days all start with him saying he doesn't want to go and end with him saying he had a great day.  And he likes his teachers, which counts for a lot.

My Dad has had some health issues lately, which is kinda sucky.  I've been watching these old Super 8 home movies that my grandpa took in the 50's and 60's that I copied to my computer while we were on vacation.  It's weird to see movies of my dad when he was in his teens and 20's and now think of him has a nearly 80-year-old.

I haven't had anymore million dollar ideas.  Believe me, you'll be the first to know when I do.

I could go for a G&T, but I worry it would send me right back to drinking them every night, and that wouldn't help the current kick I'm on.

Been re-reading an old fantasy book I read when I was 12 or 13.  A fun little stroll down memory avenue.  Or street.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back Ridge Boys

I feel like a new person since returning from vacation.  I feel free from a lot of things I felt trapped by before - my phone, Facebook, G&T's, too much food, no exercise, my schedule, renovation inertia.

So I've stopped checking Facebook, I've stopped drinking G&T's every night, I've stopped eating exclusively crap, I've started getting up at 5 to run and not feel rushed in the morning, and I've started working on shit in our house.  It feels great!  I need the time away to reboot, I guess.

Since I'm not checking Facebook, I need an outlet for all my million-dollar ideas.  This blog will once again be that outlet.

First post-facebook million-dollar idea:  An Oak Ridge Boys album consisting entirely of Backstreet Boys covers.  Album title:  Back Ridge Boys.

Billion dollar idea:  Same thing but with the Backstreet Boys covering Oak Ridge Boy tunes.  But personally, I'd rather hear the Oak Ridge Boys do "I Want it That Way" than hear the Backstreet Boys do "Elvira."

Maybe a joint tour?

Friday, August 19, 2016


Just returned from a 'vacation' to the Lou.

Reminded of how wonderful my sister and her family is.

Working on a mashup of Radiohead and the Black Eyed Peas that I'm tentatively calling Radio Eyed Pea Heads.   The songs really only work well together for about a verse.

Took my kids to a local river today.  Good times.

Feeling motivated about all things except my job.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ad Memoriam

What a weird week it's been.   Mostly work (and world) stuff, but personal stuff, too.  Is it just me, or does 2016 seem to be an extraordinarily weird year?   Like, a year that makes you start to believe the Book of Revelations.  A year that makes you feel like you're rounding a corner.  A year that feels like it's just getting started, and by the end of it things are going to be ravaged and fucked and blowing in the breeze.

At the same time, things feel pretty damned normal.  At work:  designing shows, building shows, taking care of building problems.  At home:  kids growing, developing, testing; working on relationships, Couple, schedules.  All that hyper-normal shit.  I think if someone was to ask me what my life was like, that's the word I would use to describe it:  hypernormal.

My mantra for the year has been "Let no fear enter this heart."  It's not really worked so far, but it's been a nice thought to come back to and to try to use to conjure itself into being.  I'm adding a corollary tonight:  "Return to Zen."  It's a place where I used to be but that I've felt very far away from lately.  Kids and job. mostly.  What does a Zen father look like?  What does a Zen TD look like?  I'm not really sure.

Jeannie's starting to snore next to me.  Mostly it's really just heavy nose breathing.  I should really be going to bed.

Samuel has a thorn/splintery thing stuck in his finger.  Damn if I know how to get it out.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Your Welcome*

A new post, for Aimee and BJ.

*spelling errors intentional