God bless Record Store Day

Today is Record Store Day.

It’s a marketing gimmick meant to get people to buy music at real stores instead of just downloading it from iTunes — in part by offering special releases on vinyl.

Vinyl is what hipsters call records, and some of them swear that despite the pops and skips and scratches that it sounds a lot better, a lot warmer, than CDs, and don’t get them started on how much better vinyl sounds than MP3s.

Record Store Day, then, isn’t meant for people like me.

I don’t have a record player. My taste in music is all over the board — I like everything from classic country to vintage soul to Sinatra and Thievery Corporation — but I don’t think my tastes are better than yours. I think CDs are better than vinyl, and while I can tell the difference between the sound of a CD and an MP3, I don’t think it matters.

I’m still a sucker for used record stores, but as soon as I get a CD, usually I rip it and treat the CD itself as a backup.

But I still like Record Store Day.

I like the idea of small businesses getting together and doing something to fight back against big chain stores and technology.

Too many people just lap up whatever pap is placed before them, so I like knowing that people still care about something, whether it’s vinyl records or the music that’s embedded on that vinyl.

So, Record Store Day isn’t for people like me. God bless it, anyway.

The vanity of a 5-year-old boy

It’s been a tough week. We got 4 inches of snow Sunday night and Monday morning, which is a lot here in the South, so they called off school, and by Wednesday, Things 1 and 2 were getting a little stir crazy. They’d gone sledding, and we’d all gone out to eat and gone to Target, but still.

So, Wednesday night, Thing 2 decides to spin around and around in the living room as fast as possible. Sweetie and I turned our backs for a moment and heard a “thunk” and then a wail.

(Before I get into the gory details, let me say Thing 2, who just turned 5, is fine, really.)

So, we heard this “thunk,” and then a wail, and Thing 1, (the 10-year-old) said her brother had made himself dizzy and fallen over and bonked his head on the entertainment center.

I go over, and I’m checking him over, and I’m feeling for a bump on his head, and his hair’s wet. I look, and there’s blood.

I mouth the word “blood” to Sweetie, so she won’t freak out when she sees it, and I carry Thing 2 upstairs to the bathroom to get a better look.

He’s got a small cut, maybe half an inch. It isn’t gushing, but it’s bleeding a little, so I hold a wet towel against it while Sweetie checks the first-aid books. It doesn’t sound like we need to rush him to the ER, but I wanted a second opinion, so I asked Sweetie to take a look.

Thing 2 screams, “Noooooo! I don’t want anybody to see it!”

So, I doctor the wound as best I can, and I say, “Well, at least you’ve got a good story to tell ’em at school tomorrow.”

“NO!” he said. “Don’t tell anybody!”

“You embarrassed that you spun around so fast that you fell over and bonked your head?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“I don’t blame you,” I said.

Last night, I gave him his bath and rinsed his hair without shampoo and combed it. He thought I was combing his hair just to comb it, but, of course, I was parting it around the boo-boo so I could get a better look.

“Oh, that’s nothing,” I said, even though it was something. “You want to see it?”

He ran over to the mirror and checked it out — and then used his fingers to comb over it.

“Can you see it?” he said.

“Nah,” I said.

“I don’t want anybody to see it,” he said.

“OK,” I said, and I instantly pictured him when he’s older, much older, and begins to worry about losing his hair.

What we think about when we’re shooting laser guns at people

I took Thing 1 (the 10-year-old) to play laser tag over the weekend.

If you’ve never played, you’re given a laser gun that’s tethered to a vest covered with sensors. You have 15 minutes to chase each other through a maze. When you’re hit, your pistol and sensors stop working for a few seconds, so both players can escape.

We played 2 rounds. The first was just us, but before the second game started, the attendant came in and told us we’d be playing with a cherubic little boy I’ll call Pugsley. I’m guessing he was maybe 10.

So, the game starts.

We all head off to find a hiding place from which to shoot each other. I see Thing 1 hiding behind a wall. I sneak up and shoot her in the back. She chases me and, and as soon as her laser gun is back online, she shoots me. (We really are a loving family. Seriously.)

Thing 1 and I are having a great time, zapping each other, and I realize I haven’t seen Pugley. I think, if that was my kid, I’d want him to feel included. I’d want him to have fun, too. So, I go looking for him.

I find him. He’s found a hiding place in the back of the maze, and when Thing 1 runs by, he jumps out, fires his laser gun and screams:


I thought, Whoa, did he just say….

He shoots me.


Now, I have a confession to make. Whenever I take Thing 1 to play laser tag, it’s like I’m a kid again playing “Star Wars” or something. On the drive home, I asked my daughter what she thinks about. She’s really competitive. With her, there’s no role playing. She just wants to win.

I can picture kids today playing soldier, but I was surprised and a little depressed to learn that any little boy would fantasize about fending off a home invasion.

I think, maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m projecting my anxieties about crime and violence onto Pugsley. Maybe his little fantasy about defending his home against a home invasion is as innocent as that scene in “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie dreams of being a cowboy and shooting burglars.

Thing 1, meanwhile, decides she’s had enough of Pugsley’s hide-and-shoot strategy. She ducks behind a wall and waits, and as soon as he peeks out, she shoots him. Over and over again.

Pugley’s pinned down. I feel sorry for him — partly because I still think his little home-invasion fantasy is kind of sad, but also because Thing 1 is showing him no mercy. I imagine how I’d feel if Thing 1 was playing with another family and kept getting shot by an older kid.

I ask Thing 1 to give him a break. She won’t, so  I start shooting her, just to disable her gun and give Pugsley a chance to run, but then Pugsley screams something else:


Now, I understand he’s a child and that he’s just echoing the attitudes he’s learned at home or at school, but when he disses Thing 1 for being a girl, I think, Well, Pugsley, I guess you’re on your own.

I let them play and don’t interfere.

When the game is over, we check our scores. Thing 1 had annihilated him (and me, too).

On our way out of the arena, Pugsley says, “That was fun!”

Glad to hear it.