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Valentine's Day is coming up and in the constant effort my wife and I are putting forth to spoil the mess out of our daughter (or make her childhood as much fun as possible as we prefer to look at it), we've come up with a budget friendly way to celebrate the holiday (is it really a holiday?) aside from the typical cards/candy/flowers.

We found this miniature tin mailbox at Target in the dollar section they strategically have placed by the entrance... I think Target may be hell in disguise with a money hungry Satan filling it full of tempting items because we go in with one specific purchase in mind and always come out with a cart load.  Although to some, I'm sure that sounds more like heaven.

So there we were in the dollar section holding this mini mailbox trying to figure out what we were going to do with it because buying it had already been decided with a single, non-verbal glance between the two of us.  We bought it knowing we would come up with an idea and if not, we'd just give it to her... it's a dollar.  She could put her hairbows or socks in there if all else failed or if she hated it we could use it in the office somewhere.  Or we could see if Benson would fit in it (my idea, not Allison's).  Did I mention it was only a dollar? 

Eventually we decided we would put something small in it every day leading up to Valentine's (sort of advent calendar style) for her to open in the morning.  Before you start yelling at the screen and rolling your eyes and sending me emails that we shouldn't give her gifts 14 days in a row... calm down.  It will not be filled with a 'gift' every day.  We've got stickers and other small, inexpensive items to put in there. Maybe even a cookie or a brownie or some other snack that she doesn't get very often but would jump up and down for.  Sometimes it will be as simple as a note.  A note from us telling her we love her.  Maybe a typed note from a stuffed animal (corny I know, but she would flip out).  Or a note from one (or both sets) of her grandparents because they are the ones spoiling her, that I can assure you.

On the actual day of Valentine's, we'll probably put a message in there somehow directing her towards her gift in a scavenger hunt sort of way.  After all, when looking back she'll probably remember the fun of receiving the gift rather than the actual gift itself.  Speaking of the gift, we got her a set of pretend cupcakes to use with her kitchen she received from Santa.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day?  Do you celebrate with the kids or just the significant other?  Or is it just another day where you park it on the couch for some quality TV time?


January 30, 2013

I've heard people say you can never have too much of a good thing.  I don't know if that's true or not, but what I do know is you can definitely have too much of a bad thing.  Sometimes things are so bad that we just need to put a stop to it.  Like this for example. 

So I present to you:  Make It Stop (Volume 1).

Retail Stores Asking For Email Addresses
- After roaming around the store for however long to stand in line for however long, the last thing I need is to spell out my email address so you can send me 1,000 emails for however long you feel like.  I typically answer with, "I'm already in the system" which translates to move on.  Which probably means they just type in or something, but who cares?  If I want to be on your mailing list, I'll stop by your site and sign up.  Some stores even ask for my phone number or address.  Really?  Just hit debit/credit on your register and let's keep this transaction rolling.

Skinny Jeans (for Men)
- Remember the 90s when your mom would tell you to pull up your pants and wear a belt literally every five seconds?  Nowadays (that's a word) mothers are going to their sons apologizing because they shrunk their jeans in the wash only to find out they didn't shrink at all - little Billy boy likes them that tight.  What the... why?  How are you able to breathe plus allow air to other parts that need it, too?  This trend is weird for me.  Tight pants are for girls or Steven Tyler NOT the general male population.

Slouchy, Baggy Beanie Hats
- I know these are all the rage right now, but I don't like them.  I've never worn one, mainly because I cannot pull them off but also because I'm afraid I would feel the need to keep patting the back of my head to make sure it hasn't fallen off somewhere along the way.  They look sloppy almost like your head is trying to bust a sag... pair that with the aforementioned skinny jeans some men are wearing and it confuses the shit crap out of me.  It's okay for your pants to be three sizes too small but your hat to be too big?  Stop it.

Auto Tune
- Jay Z said it best when he said "I know we facing a recession but the music y'all making gonna make it the Great Depression ... this is death of auto tune moment of silence".  Preach.  He's talking to you T-Pain and Chris Brown and Britney Spears.  And Demi Lovato.

Car Decorations
- This really makes me want to crawl in a corner and cry about the direction our society is heading.  Why are we decorating our vehicles to look like elves or reindeer?  Everyone knows windows don't have ears growing out of them and you look foolish with a big red nose covered in bugs dangling off the front of your PT Cruiser.  I even saw a car the other day with eye lashes on the headlights.  This is not a cartoon!  Aren't you driving that car to work?  Make it stop.

Agree?  Disagree?  Any trends you wish would stop?  Maybe this feature... in which case, get over it.  This is my therapy.


January 23, 2013

Yes.  I just used the words "da birfday" and not because Benson is black (that would be racist plus technically he's of Mexican descent), but mainly because I love its definition from urban dictionary.  However, that's besides the point.  This isn't about the mispronunciation of words, it's about...

It just so happens to be his birthday this week and he's turning 8.  That's really old in dog years... 56 if the calculation myth proves true.  So don't let those 3 pounds fool you, he ain't no baby puppy.  He is a chihuahua, often referred to as a teacup chihuahua and has a very large apple head.  Don't worry, he knows he has a big head.  I tell him all the time.  His tongue almost always hangs out of his mouth, he's not trying to be rude or mock you so don't take it personally.  That being said, he's not the most intelligent dog you'll ever come across.  Unless you include falling and running into door frames in the category of Things a Smart Dog Does... but he is an exceptionally loving dog.  He is the epitome of a lap dog and his one goal for the day (every day) is to find his way under a blanket so he can stretch out and snore like a bear.  If there's not a blanket near by, laundry will always be the runner up unless it just came out of the dryer in which case he'll forgo the blanket completely.  Every.  Time. 

Allison and I were in our early twenties when we decided to get a dog.  Our thought process was a dog would make our crib house feel more like a home.  So the search began and ultimately landed on this tiny little creature that Allison somehow persuaded me into getting.  At first, I found him to be boring as he didn't do anything but lay in our laps and sleep.  He was only 3 months old when he joined the family so he was still very, very small and all I wanted him to do was bark.  I couldn't wait to hear what a bark sounded like coming from what looked like a battery operated toy version of a dog.  Fast forward to now and all I want is for him to shut up.  He barks relentlessly.  Non.  Stop.  Probably because he's scared of everything.  See a fly?  He hauls butt in the other direction.  Stairs?  He'll go up, but he's not coming back down instead he'll stand there barking until your ears bleed and you march up there to get him.  Even though he can be quite the princess, he's a part of our family and definitely helps make our house a home.  Plus Madison likes him, so we have to keep him around.

Do you have pets?  Are they considered family?  Do you celebrate their birthday?  Would you like to have Benson?  Joking.  He's not for sale; my wife would kill me.


January 22, 2013

Once in a great while, an artist releases an album that ultimately defines their entire career.  This kind of album manages to take them from talented to the edge of legendary contingent upon what they choose to do with the aftermath of success.  An example of this is FutureSex/LoveSounds from Justin Timberlake.

Justin (or JT as I call him because you know... he's my boy) got his start in a little known boy band called *NSYNC.  However, the world immediately forgave him for that once it heard his first solo album Justified.  There we got to hear a different side of him with hits Like I Love You and Rock Your Body, but it took Cry Me A River - the mid tempo, Britney inspired, rain pounding jam to get my attention.  I love that song.  Still.  The wife and I probably reference it at least every other week if the opportunity presents itself.

So JT went solo.  It turned out well.  Congratulations.  There's life beyond the boy band!  (At least for the lead singer... sorry Chris Kirkpatrick.)  Little did we know that first effort was only the tip of the iceberg and that preparations were in place for the revival of sexy.  That's right.  Timberlake was attempting to bring sexy back or so he claimed.

In what can only be described as a pop masterpiece, SexyBack exploded everywhere.  Teenagers were playing it, mothers were singing it, fathers were humming it, babies that couldn't talk yet were nodding their heads in perfect time with Timbaland's background yeahs.  It was impossible to get away from, which left everyone with the same assumption... maybe he did bring sexy back.

The rest of the album hardly failed in comparison and track by track we discovered Timberlake was a legit artist.  The formula here is good boy meets bad in a way that appeals to everyone.  Even those hard dudes that refuse to admit knowing the words to Bye Bye Bye aren't ashamed to give JT his props.  The rap infused Chop Me Up and My Love are instant hits with Three 6 Mafia and TI lending their skills which help bring Justin away from the boy band image and into the solo artist arena.  Although influences like Michael Jackson and Prince are heard on songs Love Stoned and Damn Girl, there's a new grit to his voice that gave him a distinct sound and edge above any other male artist out at the time.  Of course now, Justin Bieber is trying his hand at this same formula by channeling his inner Timberlake with current releases Boyfriend and As Long As You Love Me.  At least JT kept it classy and wore a suit and not this baggy bull... disagree Beliebers? **

This album also offered a Cry Me A River part two in the form of What Goes Around proving that Britney really did a number on him.  Allegedly.  We don't know for sure (although I think we do).  Recently, JT announced plans to release a new album this year and subsequently released its first single Suit & Tie.  The announcement was met with a deep inhale and small screams from girls / women / grandmothers all over the world. He already brought sexy back 7 years ago... now what?

**Two things:  1) I can't believe I said "beliebers" and 2) Cry Me A River never gets old.  Ever.

Are you still blasting this album?  Are you ready for the next one?  Or are you still on the *NSYNC train?  In which case, you should know that trained pulled into the station in 2001.


January 21, 2013

Phillip Phillips released his first studio album, The World From The Side Of The Moon, in November of 2012.  With obvious comparisons to the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Mumford and Sons, even Jason Mraz on certain tracks it's clear Phillips was inspired to make great music... and he didn't disappoint.

This debut album from an American Idol winner is among the best music out right now.  There's not a single note auto-tuned, just a guy and his guitar singing the mess out of some songs.  He wrote the majority of the material on the album, just another example of how talented he really is.  The radio needs him.  The music industry needs him.  As long as he stays true to himself and the formula he's created, the future is his for the taking.

In the spirit of American Idol starting its new season later this week, let's revisit the moment the world was first introduced to Phillip Phillips in perhaps one of the best cover versions (and auditions) of a song.  Ever.

The recorded version of Thriller can be found on the deluxe edition of the album released by Target which also contains 5 additional songs (including Thriller) that aren't part of the regular release.

Are you a Phillip Phillips fan?  Were you surprised he beat Jessica Sanchez?


January 14, 2013

You know what they say about big hands?

 I'm not sure what you just answered with... but you know one thing they don't say about big hands?

That you cannot fit big hands in a Pringles can. 

What's up with that?  I like potato chips, I do, but give me a break with the little can Pringles people.  I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV without interference from a bag of chips like the rest of America (and maybe Canada or anywhere else that watches TV from their couches).  The trouble with the bags are they make too much noise which then causes me to turn the volume up louder and, since I'm crazy, my TV has to be on an even number level-wise so I have to turn it up two notches and if the kid is sleeping I may run the risk of waking her which then (this is the big one) will cause my wife to turn into a fire breathing dragon because I woke the kid.  She'll leap across the couch engulfed in a fireball knocking the chips out of my hands and getting crumbs everywhere completely ruining our couch -and our evening- in the process.

For the love of... all of this could be avoided if I could fit my hands into the can of Pringles.

But I can't.  I'm a man.  I have large hands.  I like chips.  This is discrimination.  Sort of.  Maybe not.

Still though, I hate having to pour the stack of chips from the container into my hand balancing them like a Jenga tower in effort to eat a few.  It's too much work.  Make the containers larger.  What?  The can is designed that way so the chips don't break.  I get that, but there has to be a workaround.  Maybe you should make the chips larger, too...

Or I could just stop eating chips, it is the New Year after all, but I don't think either of us want that to happen.  Except my wife.  And maybe my waistline.

So the curiosity is killing me, what do they say about big hands?  Who are they?  And do they eat Pringles?

[ Image Source ]


January 11, 2013

I'm feeling older these days for many different reasons even though I'm not even 30 yet (close, but not yet).  For example, my lower back seems to hurt all the time and I find myself squinting occasionally BUT I still have my teeth and my hair so you won't hear me complaining... unless I see Justin Bieber with his baggy britches. 

See?  Another example of getting old... I just used the word britches in a sentence.

Seriously though, what's the deal with the pants?  Every time I see him (on TV, of course, we don't live in the same town or anything) and he's wearing those pants, I want to sit him down and have a conversation that I imagine would go a little something like this:

Clearly it wouldn't go well, mainly because he thinks he's Ryan Seacrest based on his exit line.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is the MC Hammer (or the modified version) pants trend went out of style when hammer time expired in the late 90s.  They're not coming back, I don't care what Usher (or Ursher as he pronounces it) has to say about it.

Am I the only one that finds these pants insane?  Especially on a male?  Unless Bieber is really a... never mind.  The pants make him look like some sort of genie or like he's wearing a soiled diaper.  I don't like it. They're exceptionally tight around the ankle and for some reason I can't look past them.  Make it stop.

Anyone else distracted by these pants?  Or are you secretly wearing a pair while you read this? 

[ Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4


January 9, 2013

Every now and then a song comes along that bounces around in your head for weeks on end, no doubt causing you to sing and/or hum at the most random of moments.  For me, recently, that song has been Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars from his Unorthodox Jukebox album.

I've never been a fan of Bruno's before... I didn't not like him, he was just kind of around.  However, once I heard the Police throwback feel of Locked Out Of Heaven I found myself turning my ear a little more in his direction.  Then he started appearing all over everywhere performing a few other songs from his album and to my surprise, I liked them.  Young Girls and When I Was Your Man highlight the timbre and tone of his voice while the throwback vibe of If I Knew displays his overall control.  Who knew the dude could sing like that?

Michael Jackson is heard as inspiration on tracks like Treasure and Moonshine, but it's the Prince influenced tunes that stand out the most... Gorilla and Natalie.  Both songs are witty in lyric and genius in melody yet Gorilla is probably not the best song to jam out to with the kiddos in the car.  With that said, Bruno's Jukebox is a solid effort and a rare album eligible for playing from beginning to end.


January 7, 2013

I've decided to make this year the best year ever!  Although the competition is pretty stiff as I've had some really great years in the past... 2008 for example, when I married Allison.  Or 2011, when we had Madison.  Or that year I mastered R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly on the trumpet.  I guess that last one doesn't exactly compare, but it was still pretty awesome.  I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and it's possible that all events have been leading up to now... the New Year... this New Year.

Without further adieu, here's what I'm expecting to happen over the next 12 months (blog-wise):

- regular/frequent posting schedule... I'm thinking once a day Monday-Friday, for now
- find a way to increase views/buzz/audience/word on the street
- make Mr. Write Away all that it can be
- a feature somewhere, somehow wouldn't hurt anything

There comes a point in every one's life where they stop and realize that they've made their dreams come true and it's time to dream bigger OR that they've never actually taken the chance to chase said dreams therefore never really achieving them.  For me, unfortunately, it's the latter.  However, I intend to change that starting with the New Year.  After all, how can I encourage Madison to chase her dreams when I haven't tried myself (insert cliche sayings here like:  practice what you preach and lead by example).

My resolution is to lace up my shoes and run full speed in the direction I've always wanted to go, to write (anything) until I cannot write anymore then force myself to write something else.  To be the best me/father/husband I can be... and to lose weight, eat healthier, stop cussing as much, blah blah blah.  BUT in the meantime, as Montell Jordan would say, tip up your cup and throw your hands up and let me hear the party say...

HAPPY 2013!

January 1, 2013

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