Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Welcome to a very special edition of Bradley's Brain!

This past Friday, both of my sons participated in the talent show at their school.

Of course I recorded it (some day when they're both rich and famous, everyone can say "This is where it all started"), and have now gotten around my technological incompatibilities and figured out how to get the videos on this "You-tube" thing all the kids are so crazy about these days.

Without further ado, may I present the talented youth of Clan Leslie:

First up is Blake, who performed in a Mexican Hat Dance with a few other kids from his kindergarten class. Blake is the one that starts out in the very back on the left:

Next up is Hunter, who sang "Weird Al" Yankovic's Since You've Been Gone.
I have to admit that when he said he wanted to sing in the talent show, I said, "Okay, Buddy, that sounds cool." When he told me he wanted to sing a "Weird Al" song, I got a little teary-eyed and said, "That's my boy..."

Keep in mind, he's nine, this was his first ever solo act on stage, and he was very nervous. Even though it can sometimes be a bit difficult to hear him over Al's vocals, I think he did a fantastic job.

So there you have it; the first stop on Hunter and Blake's journey to stardom.

Just in case you can't tell, I'm insanely proud of both of them.

They have always been, and always will be, my Superstars.

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The "F" Word...

No, not fahrfegnugen.

Today, I arrive at the "f" word. The big four-oh.

Yep, that's right: today, I'm forty years old.




When did this happen?!? How?!?

I mean, one day, I'm eighteen, graduating high school, and the future is laid out in front of me, a wide-open buffet of years and experiences, and then all of a sudden, I'm a forty-year-old single dad whose buffet has shrunk down to a plate of that blue jell-o they serve in senior cafeterias.

I hate blue jell-o!

All day, folks have been reminding me that forty is just a number. That forty is the new thirty. That you're only as old as you feel.

Well that's all fine and good, but there's one bit of crucial information that makes this a bit different:

This is ME we're talkin' about here!

Forty is just another number when it's someone else. When I turn forty, it's a bit more cataclysmic.

Forty is the new thirty? A rose by any other name...

As old as I feel?

I'm doomed.

Then again, on the other hand, turning forty isn't so bad.

When you get right down to it, the number forty, when applied to birthdays, means "not dead".

I'm ok with this.

I've had forty years worth of experiences--some good, some not so much--that make me who I am today.

And who I am is a man who wants another forty years or more.

Who I am is a man who loves his children more than anything else in the world, and wants to be around long enough to see them have kids.

So, happy birthday to me, and I'll take many more, if I can get 'em.

Plus, as long as I can get my aging fingers around a fork, I get to eat carrot cake today, which is...precious...to me.

My Precious...

Thanks for reading my ranting,

Forty-year-old Brad

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Day Spidey Moved In...

This past Saturday was a chilly, rainy, dreary day here in Louisville.

I had the boys for the weekend, and since our trip to the park didn't happen, we were pretty much inside all day.

In the early afternoon, while the kids were being themselves---which of course means fighting, arguing, yelling and screaming at each other and goading the dog into barking as loudly as she can---I decided that it was time to get the dishes done.

Washing dishes is so much fun that I became lost in the bubbly joy of a sinkful of dirty dishes and water hot enough to dissolve my fingerprints away.


Yes, there is sarcasm in the above sentence.

At any rate, I lost track of time while doing this most mindless and menial of tasks, and worked away a good forty-five minutes before I realized that I could no longer hear the boys.

Lest you fail to understand the depths of my fear, let me stress: the boys--my boys--were quiet.

Silence from them means cooperation, and this never bodes well for me.

Then, so quietly that I almost couldn't hear them at all, there came...whispering.

This bodes even worse than the silence.

"Boys," I called out, trying not to show my fear through the cracking of my voice (you must never let my boys see your fear--they know fear, and thrive on it). "What are you guys doing in there?"

"Nothing. C'mere, Dad."


"No reason. Just c'mere."

Well, this just keeps getting better and better.

Against my better judgement (I am a dad, and left most of my better judgement by the roadside long ago), I decided to play along and see what they had been getting into.

I left the kitchen, and though I tread lightly, I did not tread lightly enough to prevent falling over the tripwire of thread which now ran along the floor of the dining room.

I had time to realize "Hey, I'm falling..." before I fell into, and snapped through (yes, there was pain involved in this), the five-foot-high web of thread that they had spent the last forty-five minutes weaving, with ninja-like silence, across the open spaces of the dining room.

I found myself lying on the floor, quite entangled in the threads that had wrapped around me as I fell through them.

As I lay there, Blake knelt down and whispered in my ear.


"Yes, Blake?"

"We set a Spider-Man trap for you."

"Oh. Ow."

The boys found this quite hilarious, and cackled away like the criminally insane fiends they are.

Once I had disentangled myself and managed to get up, I had a talk with the boys about how I'm sure they had fun, and I was certainly happy that they had spent so much time working together, but that this was not necessarily the best way to showcase their creativity.

After all was said and done, we all laughed (it really was funny in retrospect), and went on to enjoy the rest of our Saturday.

You see, I couldn't really be angry at them, because when I was a kid, I did the exact same thing to my dad. In the same room, even.

The only difference being that my dad wasn't doing dishes at the time, he was outside doing something manly like ripping up tree trunks or building a motorcycle or something like that.

And I remember his response being a bit different when I told him I had set the trap. His response was more along the lines of "So you have. And now, you will die."

I'm not going to lie; it hurt. But at the end of the day, it didn't hurt all that much, and gave me some good time with my boys, while triggering memories of the same kinds of fun with my dad, thirty years ago.

It seems I've come full circle.

If nothing else, my boys are learning what they can accomplish if they work together.

And yes, that part scares me.

A lot.
Thanks for reading my ranting,


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Another Trip to the Circus...

I took my kids to the circus again recently.

For info on last year's trip, look here.

I know, I know, Bozophobics like me shouldn't go to the circus. It's kinda like someone who's afraid of spiders hanging out at that spider exhibit at the zoo.

Which I avoid at all costs, 'cause I'm afraid of spiders even more than clowns.

However, the kids really enjoy our annual trip to the circus, and every year, I have the same thought: "Clowns have those big, floppy shoes, right? I can outrun someone wearing those things easy. Those painted messengers of death won't even get near me!"

Which is normally correct.

This year, however, one particular clown outsmarted me.

He was on roller skates.

That's right, every time I thought I was safe from that pancake makeup-encrusted servant of darkness, ZOOM!!! There he was. Circling me no matter where we were, awaiting me at every turn, a constant blur of polka-dotted motion, wheeling his way through the crowds, yelling "Welcome to the Circus!" and "Enjoy the show!"

At least that's what the kids told me he was saying. What I heard was more like "I will feast on your eyes" and "More souls for the Master...".

We did manage to escape Wheelie the wereclown long enough to get this really cool pic of the boys with Spider-Man:

*sniff* I didn't get my picture taken...

Then I spent a small fortune on cotton candy and lemonade, and we made our way to the bleachers, where roller skates can't go.

Then the fun began.

The lady sitting next to us was about five years older than me, and yelled and screamed and laughed more than any five-year-old in the crowd.

As the elephant came out and did his tricks, she proclaimed at the top of her lungs, "OH, HOW BEAUTIFUL, JESUS!!! I LOOOOVE ANIMALS, JESUS!!!!"

When the motorcyclists came out and did their admittedly amazing jumps and flips, she let out, "OOOOOOHHHHHH, NOOOOOOOOOOOO-----OH, LOOK,HE MADE IT, JESUS!!!!"



Perhaps she was praying throughout the entire circus. Perhaps her boyfriend, the patient-looking man she was with, is named Jesus.

I honestly don't know.

But as the kids watched the show, I found myself watching her. I found her outbursts, enthusiasm, and sheer joy to be rather infectious.

I enjoyed myself more because of her.

I think sometimes that if I could be that excited about something, be the kind of person who doesn't care what others think, the kind of person who just can't sit still or stop laughing because of the plain joy of being alive---

Well, that'd be something, wouldn't it?

I hope she's still having fun, wherever she may be right now.

I suspect she is, and I would certainly love to see her at the circus again next year.

Of course I'll go again next year. I hate clowns, but my boys are worth me having the heebie-jeebies for a while so that they can say "Wasn't that fun?".

Also, next year, I'll be wearing roller skates.

Thanks for reading my ranting,