Archive for October, 2013


Guest Post: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When I started this blog I said there might be some guest posts down the road.

Here’s the first one, written by my good friend Bill Maxwell. A California native I knew back in my Los Angeles days, Bill’s a man of many talents, mostly involving writing though occasionally running role playing games.

He once ran a horror game which gave my wife nightmares.

He’s written screenplays, books, gaming manuals—you name it, he’s done it.

Bill’s first novel Shadowpath is a combination of horror and fantasy in an urban setting which follows Dr. Elisabeth Frost, an author who has spent her life writing about crimes with an occult flavor to them who suddenly finds herself at the center of one.

You can check out what else Bill is up to at his blog.

Many thanks to Bill for this Halloween themed post.


No. Not Christmas

That other time when whole neighborhoods dress their houses up in seasonal fair, as the world whips itself into an astonishing array of colors and the coming winter winds just start to nip and bite. Just a little bit.

Ah, Halloween. How I love you.

So, here I am, proud parent of 3 lovely children speaking with a friend of mine—a talented teacher–about the hallows of eve, and she imparts to me this testimonial.

“Last year I turned off my lights because I was tired of what I was putting up with after spending money I didn’t have on bags of candy that were done well before 9pm. While I was sitting home with the lights off, I overheard families disappointed that so many lights were out. Maybe parents are just clueless how rude they are being? Maybe we need to remind people that we don’t all have kids. We do this as a favor because it was done for us.”

I was appalled – not at her, for her love of Halloween matches mine, but for how a wonderful autumn ritual has descended from a lovely tradition to a bizarre sugar-themed scavenger hunt of epic proportions.

With that in mind, with humility and respect (and a shot of holiday hard cider), we humbly submit 7 ways ones to improve on the Holiday Experience.

1. Stop the Drop and Dash

So, you’ve got a street full of excited, sugar-hyped kids, zipping back and forth across the streets, looking for treat-filled prizes. Do you know what’s the opposite-of-safe? How about cars stopping and lurching forward every few feet.

Yes, we’ve seen this – the parents who dump their kids off at a house, have them run up, terrorize the owner and then jump back in. Not only does it make it less safe for all the walkers, it takes away from the community tradition.

Go walk the neighborhood. Get to know people. After all, these people are helping sugar up the kids. At least know who to blame. 😉

2. Do We Really Need Howlers?

We all understand Halloween is exciting for everyone involved, but, really, knock once, ring the bell once. If you’ve got a kid who needs to stand on the porch and, in the first 30 seconds, starts to howl, pound the door, and starts slamming down the doorbell like it’s a personal affront, you might need to cut down the caffeine.

We really don’t want to have to come to the door with a loaded fire extinguisher, because that is an option.

The same applies to the kid who tries to grab fistfuls of treats. Yes, some kids have problems with patience or boundaries but that’s why the adults are with them, to monitor the little darlings so the fire extinguisher stays tucked in the kitchen where it belongs.

3. Your Baby Eats What?

First off, I LOVE your baby! That costume is soooo cute! But, um, why does your baby need candy? They’re not even done breastfeeding yet and you – the adult– are trying to score them a Mars Bar? Something is wrong here. Let us coo and compliment your baby and let it go at that.

4. You are Not a Teen Dream

So, this is something that has happened. Teens, door, backpacks, no costume; expectations are they say the magic words and they get treats.


We’re going to fill your backpack so you can torment your teacher tomorrow with crinkled candy wrappers thrown at friends and the inevitable sugar high?!?

C’mon. At least work for it.

Two years ago, when some costumed teens showed up, they were made to dance. The requested dances were tough and they thought it was funny and totally fair.

Trick-or-treat. It’s that or we start handing out handfuls of rocks.

5. You’re How Old?

Parenting in a costume, kind of awesome. Showing up tipsy, without kids, with only various parts of a costume AND expecting candy will get you a call to 911.


Showing off is fine. Being the example is fine. We’re going to say your costume rocks (if it does) but we’re not offering up the candy we’re saving for the elementary and middle school kids. You’ve got incredible Halloween parties you can go to; they’ve just got us and the other candy-laden households.

Now, I did see one year, as a trick-or-treater, a house done up as a horror theater (they were actually playing Frankenstein on a massive projection screen outside). For adults, they were actually offering a brew to costumed adults without children. The adult was then welcome to go sit down and watch the movie. That’s a little bit of amazing right there. Go hang out at that house.

6. Respect the Power of the Trade

A parent wanders up to the door, kid in tow. The magic words are spoken by the kid–“Trick or Treat”–and suddenly, the parent dives their hand into the bucket. Now, as you’re looking on in delayed horror while they dig through everything, they announce their child is gluten-free, gmo-antagonistic, vegan, non-peanut eating, allergic-to-air and you MUST have something for them.

Well, no. Actually we don’t.

This isn’t a new problem. Back when we were kids, Jenny hated taffies, Frank said cinnamon candy made him sneeze and nobody likes the homemade granola treats. Everyone loved the chocolate.

What we did was simple. When we got back to home base (whichever friend was hosting that year), we laid out our spread and –traded–. If that didn’t work, we’d do the same the next day with a new batch of friends. Or at school for the next week. If that didn’t work, we’d keep the stash in a little jar for that time when kids ran out of candy about a month later and we’d trade then.

It’s a powerful tool in –how to get what we want by working with others– and it teaches the child to be grateful for what they got, not something mysterious which might be in there later. There was one time a parent was proactive and actually blanketed the neighborhood with a request for treats his kid could eat. That’s okay too – it builds community.

And having proposed the above, fair parents who still want to dig, we’ll be adding a mouse trap to the bottom of the bucket, just for you diggers.

It is called ‘Trick’ or Treat for a reason.

7. Say Thank You

It’s a small, simple thing and it goes a long way. It also teaches kids about gratitude, which is a nice sideline. My kids take hand decorates notes, which are a hit every single year with the adults giving out candy.

That’s it. Seven simple rules for Trick or Treaters. Stay safe, scare well and may your Halloween be the most favorite time of the year


A Rousing Game of NAME! THIS! THING!


About a month and a half ago, I was walking The Professor to school and noticed this item had sprung up over the weekend in a yard we walk past every day.

I expected it to become something completed but instead it has sat in this exact state since I first noticed it. It’s a ramp, yes. Or is it a really lame quarter pipe for squirrel skaters? Or a launching pad?

I don’t know. I thought we would find out eventually when it was finished but either it is finished (in which case: lame) or someone lost interest (in which case: also lame).

So you guys tell me—what do you think this is?

Inquiring minds want to know in the comments.

I would like to point out, as a side note, that the structure is built on a putting green.

So somebody had enough yard to add a putting green but then never used it and could build a ramp on it instead and then leave that sitting there for months.

Ah, Montclair.

Side note part the second: We’re having a guest post later today! Huzzah!

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image via

So my wife has started working home more often. We share an office in the house, so we’ve been in each other’s space a lot more, which has actually been fine, save for when she is on a client call and I’m doing a radio spot—in which case one of us has to leave.

Anyway, it also affords us the time to have conversations like the one which led me to discover that yes, I have the ability to SEE THE FUTURE.

Here’s yesterday’s conversation so you have some background.

And then prepare to be blown away.



Me: Man it’s cold. It seems cold enough to snow.

Her: It’s not.

Me: I’m not saying it is, I’m saying it feels like it.

Her: It’s 50 degrees.

Me: It’s almost cold enough…..

Her: <laughter>

Me: What?

Her: Yeah, it’s only 20 degrees too warm.

Me: I don’t like you or your logic anymore.

Here’s the thing—I woke up this morning and it was totally cold. I have proof.



So here it is a day later and totally almost cold enough to snow, maybe.

You know what this means? That’s right! I CAN SEE INTO THE FUTURE.

Clearly I wasn’t really thinking yesterday was cold enough to snow—I was seeing through the space-time vortex into Thursday morning.

And here’s more proof it is cold enough to be cold.



That white stuff? Totally frost.



And look! Frost on the playground.



In case you can’t see, the above is a closeup of frost. I tried to get a picture of my breath but couldn’t get it to work but it was absolutely cold enough to see my breath.

Holy crap you guys! I KNEW THIS WOULD HAPPEN.

How awesome is this? I can now do all sorts of things with my future-sight. I can stop crimes before they happen. I can win bets on sports events. I can figure out when the last donut is going to be eaten and get there first.

I promise you guys I will only use my powers for mostly good things though (mostly good because I’m only human—OR AM I?) and not for evil (MOSTLY BECAUSE I AM ONLY SORT OF HUMAN).

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?


Exhausting, this whole fall thing

IMG_4284At the end of every Summer I have pretty much braced myself for a very busy Fall.

By the middle of every Fall, I realize I had drastically under-prepared.

What’s stunning about that is the fact that this happens every year.

This Fall has brought some new challenges beyond getting back to school, gearing up for Fall sports and my NFL work. I took on coaching and that has been more exhausting than I ever anticipated, both emotionally and physically. It’s been tremendously rewarding and fun in most ways, but it’s certainly an extra layer of energy drain and exhaustion.

Also, work has been scattered and more stressful than usual, though there is less of it. Odd, right?

Oh, and Alpha Tween broke his hand playing football because he’s Alpha Tween and these things happen to him.

So here we are, most of the way through fall and I feel like I’ve been dragging along for twice as long. It’s definitely shown up here, where the posts have dropped off dramatically (though I’ll admit the pace I started off with was a bit mad).

It’s funny how, despite the fact that the kids are more self-sufficient, they seem to require more handling and more energy to get to do what they’re supposed to.

So all in all, this Fall has been super-exhausting.

It’s also been great. That might be a little exhausting as well.

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It’s Really a Valid Question

I heard a very adorable thing on the walk back from dropping the Professor off at school.

I was passing the duck lake in the park across the street from the school when I passed a little boy—probably a kindergartener—and his father.

The boy was looking at the water, filled with geese and ducks, holding his father’s hand.

Boy: Yeah but are there ALLIGATORS in there?

Adorable AND asking a perfectly legitimate question. I don’t have the answer for sure, which is bad because that’s something I ought to know, right?

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I like kicking leaves

IMG_4284I love fall. I think I like winter more, but I really enjoy fall.

Especially since we’ve moved east. In Southern California, there aren’t season. There is “hot”, “less hot”, “rainy” and “OH DEAR GOD THE HOT” along with some other assorted other “seasons” like “fire”, “earthquake” and “smog”.

Here on the East Coast we have drastic change in the weather. It got cold here in the last week or so (not Alaska or Arctic cold, just sorta cold) and the trees had their yearly implosion of color and falling leaves.

I like to kick them.

There’s something cathartic about kicking leaves, at least as far as I’m concerned. Not quite as much as surfing is, but pretty darn close.

I found out that The Professor is a fan as well.

While we were walking down the sidewalk to our car after school, I started kicking leaves because AWESOME and Professor stopped to watch.

Professor: Wait, Dad, WAIT.

Me: What’s the matter?

Professor: Let me get on the side of you so I can do it to.

After which he crossed the sidewalk and got on the lawn next to it and started kicking.

My kid is awesome.

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What We Have Here is….A Failure to Motivate

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

The pass was off, I’ll give the wide receiver that. Maybe he ran his pattern wrong as well, but the ball definitely floated.

So in many ways, the interception wasn’t that big a shock after you saw the pass go up.

The receiver standing there after the ball was picked off, unwilling to run after the ball? I’d like to say that was a surprise, but after two months with this player it’s not.

I don’t know how to motivate some of these kids.

There’s a point in anything—not just football, but any aspect of life—where you get metaphorically kicked in the teeth. At that point you either fold or you get off the floor and get back to work.

We folded. Well, not all of us, but enough of us for it to matter in a sport which requires your whole team to be on point.

Some kids it’s easy. They’re natural competitors, whether on the field or in the classroom.

Some kids, it’s not.

And I don’t know how to reach them. It doesn’t compute for me, at all.

That’s on me, because as a coach I need to be able to do that. When that interception happened, the air went out of our team and, quite literally, a chunk of the team quit. Shoulders were slumped, heads down, efforts became half-assed.

You can encourage them, yell at them, talk them up, bench them—but what I can’t seem to do is get them going again. It’s like a car engine when the carburetor is flooded. It’s just not starting again for a while.

The thing is, opportunity—again, whether in football or life—is fleeting. It’s there one minute, gone the next. If you spend time moping, you miss your chance and sometimes it doesn’t come around again.

I know of what I speak.

And I hate to harp on it because these are kids. They aren’t the people they’ll be next week, much less next year, much less once they’re grown.

But the ability to get off the mat, to pick yourself up when you get knocked down—to overcome obstacles—is something you can instill in a person early.

Forget football for a second, that’s a critical habit for life.

Because life is really, painfully, unfair. There are times it flat out sucks. It has no qualms about kicking you in the groin and then spitting on you as it walks away. Most of us get nothing handed to us. Most of us will forever have to fight tooth and nail for what we want or believe in.

We are promised nothing and things are constantly—painfully—ripped from our grasp if we aren’t careful.

So it bothers me I can’t reach some of these kids. It bothers me that I can’t manage to teach these kids to be resilient. That I can’t instill the will in a player that when something goes wrong he shouldn’t shut down.

Because at some point he’s going to need that skill.

Of course, I realize it’s not all on me. It’s not all on the coaches, not when you see a kid three or four days a week and it’s only been about two months. There’s only so much you can do.

It’s a combination of all the people around him (or her) daily—the parents, the schoolteachers, everyone—who will help a kid find their way.

I guess at the end, all I can do is my best. I can try to instill them with confidence, teach them that a bad play or moment isn’t the end of the world and hope that they hear me (which, frankly, is a whole different post).

Some of the kids will get it. Some won’t. And some might five years from now when the “light switch” goes on because of something else.

It’s frustrating though, as I think over the loss yesterday. Could I have done more to help the kids turn it around and keep their heads? Could I have done something differently, whether for the wide receiver (who never got his head back in the game) or any of the other players?

I guess I don’t really know.

All I can do is pick myself back up, dust myself off and work harder to get better.

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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages