Hitting the Interview Circuit!

Recently, I had the privilege to appear on the Erskine syndicated radio show to discuss my book. To listen to the interview:
go to http://www.erskineonradio.com/archives/archives.html. Scroll down to the interview – 3/30/13

OR in ITunes, download the 3/31/13 GCN erskine overnight podcast.

I’ve also been interviewed by The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper:

http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/harried-dad’s-book-reveals-‘how-not-parent’-2013-04-02-003000

And on the Web:

http://cerullean.net/author-interview-brad-manzo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=author-interview-brad-manzo

http://charleshenryeditingblog.com/2013/02/28/author-interview-brad-manzo/

By the way, if you’re in NYC, you can pick up How Not to Parent at The Bookmark Shoppe in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

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My Comedy Debut

A couple of years ago, I got an opportunity to be a showcase reader for the Dimestories New York kick off event in Brooklyn. I read one of my favorite pieces, “Boys Will be Boys,” which is featured in How Not to Parent. Finally, the reading is available here on the blog: BManzo_Boys_Will_Be_Boys.

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You Sunk My Sunday Night

It started innocently with a text from my brother-in-law on a Sunday morning.

“Brad, do you and CJ want to come see Battleship with us? Movie starts in an hour.”

Without thinking, I read the text aloud.

CJ’s ears perked up. “Dad, can we go see Battleship. Oh please, oh please, oh please, oh please.”

“If you want to go, you have to ask nicely,” I said sarcastically.

“C’mon, Dad,” he pleaded with me.

“Let me think about it.”

The first thing I did was read the reviews to see if the movie was any good. Heck, if I’m spending $40 it better be good.

CJ followed me around like a lost puppy until I finally acquiesced.

“Okay, we can go.”

He hugged me for five minutes straight.

The reviews weren’t bad and, as I love going to the movies, the two of us sported grins until we reached our seats.

After 37 previews, a quick nap, a few commercials, a shocked glance into an empty wallet, and half a dozen stern warnings to not use our cell phones, I was no longer feeling the love. Out of spite, I was ready to text the world.

Finally, the movie started and my smile returned. With snacks in hand, we were really enjoying ourselves.

Then, halfway through the movie, they introduced the aliens and all hell broke loose.

“I’m scared, Dad.” CJ held on to me for dear life.

He covered his eyes and I covered his ears. It passed—ttemporarily.

A few minutes later, the aliens reared their ugly, alien heads again. He peeked carefully through the fingers covering his eyes before blurting out, “I have to go to the bathroom, Dad.”

We raced to the bathroom to relieve our bladders I naively thought.

“I want to go home. I’m scared.”

“Are you sure? Your cousin is inside waiting for you to come back.”

He was torn and I was annoyed. I spent $40 on a movie and was hanging out in the men’s room. Additionally, I felt betrayed by Hasbro for marketing the movie around a kids game and making it so damn scary. What’s next—a slasher movie based on Connect Four or Old Maid, a movie based on the card game about an aging, bitter woman who seeks vengeance, Charles Bronson style, on every man who ever spurned her?

I wanted to see the end of the movie but it was his call.

“I want to go back,” he said.

I wanted to hug him and say, “I love you, man,” but chose the parental route instead. “Are you sure, CJ?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Let’s go!” He ran back to the theater and I followed closely behind.

Thankfully, he enjoyed the rest of the movie and without covering his eyes.

On the way home, he thanked me profusely. “That was so much fun, Dad. I loved the movie.”

I smiled. The scary, alien fiasco was behind me.

Later that night, we put the kids to bed and Diane and I reflected on another enjoyable weekend. We quickly nodded off to sleep.

A few minutes later, CJ ran into our room screaming. “The aliens are coming!”

Diane comforted him. “What’s wrong, baby?”

That night he barely slept, which meant Diane and I barely slept. But I knew that would not be the end of it—not by a long shot.

The next morning, my daughter got wind of what happened.

“You should have checked to make sure it was appropriate. I think that movie’s PG-13. CJ’s only seven.”

And you’re only 10 and making way too much sense, I thought to myself.

“PG-13, not appropriate,” my wife added.

These two are going to gang up on me for the rest of my life, aren’t they?

I tried to point out that my friend brought his son, so I assumed it was age-appropriate. But my daughter would have none of it.

“If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too?” Damn she was good and had already mastered the annoying motherly clichés.

I knew I wasn’t going to win so I quickly changed tactics and admitted my mistake. “I shouldn’t have trusted my friend. I should have done my own research on the movie.”

My wife approved. “Now you’re getting it.”

I vowed it wouldn’t happen again and saw CJ and I enjoying the new Spiderman on the big screen in the near future.

“The aliens are coming!” CJ shouted as he entered the room petrified.

At that moment, I knew I’d be watching Spiderman by myself on the small screen.

My wife and daughter’s angry gazes quickly confirmed that for me.

Copyright © 2012, Brad Manzo

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Take a List…

Lists seem to rule my life. There are honey do lists (honey, take out the garbage, honey, put away the dishes, honey, get your hands out of pockets, it’s not a toy), to do lists, and grocery lists. And, of course, if you screw up and forget something on one of these vital lists, you end up on the s*#! list.

Of course, in order to keep track of all these lists, you need modern technology. Pen and paper is no longer acceptable. That’s no problem for me. I have an iPhone, an iPad, a work computer, and a home computer.

Therefore, with all this great technology at my disposal, you’d think I’d have all my bases covered, right? Not so.

There’s one major problem: listening. When my wife gives me a shopping or to do list, the list is never right. After a couple of minutes of dictation, my mind starts to wander. (Who’s winning the ball game? Do I really put my hands in my pockets that often? What the heck did she just say?)

So I end up with strange entries like Garlic ice cream—possible with my wife—or Welch’s grape petroleum jelly.

I know this isn’t right but I don’t want to ask my wife to repeat herself.

“Don’t you listen to me?” she’d say, clearly annoyed.

She’d continue to rant and I’d then start tuning her out again, which just exacerbates the situation.

So I grab my list, enlist one of the kids to help me, and hope I can figure it out when I arrive at the store.

I try to get my daughter to come with me as she often shops with my wife. Though Lexy is usually sweet, it can be hit or miss.

“Lexy, can you come to the store with me?”

“No, don’t want to.”

“I could use the company.”

“What part of NO do you not understand?” with her hands firmly on her hips, she’s not messing around.

“So it’s a maybe?”

“Mom, daddy is bothering me. I don’t want to go the store.”

“What’s wrong, Brad? You can’t go to the store yourself?”

I can’t answer that.

So I bring CJ who listens worse than me. However, he’s eager to go to the store—most likely to get a toy—and remembers everything, when he listens. Between the two of us we should be able to figure out something. Besides, I have my incomprehensible list.

When we arrive at the store, unfortunately, my list is still incomprehensible.

Then the word chili pops into my head. I have a brilliant thought.

“CJ, I need you to talk to Mom and ask her if we’re having chili for dinner tomorrow.

I dial the number, repeat what to say, and hand him the phone.

“Say it exactly like that. Got it?”

“Sure, Dad.”

“Mom, Daddy, wants to know if we’re having chili for dinner tomorrow.”

Good boy—stick to the script.

“I don’t know. Maybe he lost the list.”

My heart sinks.

“She wants to talk to you.”

Disgusted, I pick up the phone.

“Yes, hon.”

She gives me the list again and warns me not to screw it up.

“Yes, I’ve got everything, hon. I won’t call again.”

I hang up the phone and immediately realize the store has chili with beans and without beans. Crap!

I take a deep breath and decide to text her. She didn’t say I couldn’t text her. See, I listen sometimes.

I fully expected a couple of angry texts including barbs such as, “do you need me to wipe for you, too?” However, it never happened.

“Hmmm. Maybe my question about beans wasn’t so ridiculous after all,” I said to CJ.

“No, Mom said she didn’t need the chili after all. She didn’t want you to get mad.”

Too late for that. “Anything else?” I asked with a scowl on my face.

“Can I get a toy now?”

Copyright © 2012, Brad Manzo

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Teachable Moments

My family only seems to know two volumes—loud and louder. The problem stems from the fact that the kids don’t listen or simply don’t react to anything the first time. Or the second. Or the third. Or the 16th time if they’re watching TV.

“CJ, time for dinner.”

His eyes remained fixed on the TV.

“CJ, I said, time for dinner.”

Again, no response. Annoyed, I jumped directly in front of the TV.

He cocked his head ever so slightly then continued to watch.

“Are you alive? Can you hear me?”

“There’s a naked lady outside.”

Wait, that only works on me.

“The ice cream man is here.”

“No, he’s not.”

This kid was made of stone. There was no breaking him.

“Get in here now or I’m throwing your toys straight into the garbage!” Diane screamed.

The walls shook. The dog covered her ears. Car alarms went off.

CJ started crying then stomped to the dinner table.

“Why didn’t you just turn off the TV?” Diane looked at me with bewilderment.

I couldn’t answer. I was in awe of how quickly she resolved the situation. Additionally, my eardrums were still throbbing from the scream as I stumbled to the dinner table.

Despite the scream that made CJ bawl and broke the sound barrier, five minutes later CJ hugged and kissed my wife as if nothing happened.

“I love you, Mommy.”

Who the hell was this woman?

Amazingly, though, her yelling worked. Unfortunately, the yelling ever ends. It’s become so engrained in our everyday life that a simple conversation is now a shouting contest.

“Pass the salt!” Lexy said as my eardrums almost burst.

“I’m sitting next to you. Why are you screaming?”

“I don’t know, Daddy.”

“Don’t scream at your father,” my wife screamed.

That answers that question.

Unfortunately, the kids are also loud at the most inopportune moments.

“That man has a booger hanging from his nose.”

“She has a big butt.”

“Is that man a midget?”

I think we all need to go back to kindergarten for one day and learn to use our “inside” voices again.

A perfect opportunity came up the other night when my son sleepwalked and mistakenly peed in the garbage pail in our bedroom. It would have been a great, as they say, teachable moment.

Yelling would only exacerbate the situation and result in pee all over the room.

We could even bring in a kindergarten teacher to help.

“Now, CJ, put on your thinking cap and pee directly in the pail,” she’d say, bespectacled, and speaking in a nurturing tone.

“Watch out for Daddy’s iPhone. That’s a good boy!”

We could then slowly integrate our inside voices to everyday conversation and begin speaking and acting like normal people.

“Daddy, here’s your iPhone,” Lexy would say in a quiet, dulcet tone.

“Why does my iPhone smell like pee?” I’d scream.

Maybe inside voices are overrated after all.

Copyright © 2011, Brad Manzo

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Play Ball!

Is there a 12-step program for sports fans? If there isn’t, there should be. Have you seen the TV commercial in which the Washington Redskins fans—all men by the way—put on dresses, makeup, giant pig snouts, wigs, and ladies’ hats then parade off to the game? Houston, we’ve got a problem. What about face painters or drunk fans who attend football games shirtless, in places like Chicago, in mid-winter?

I’m not wearing a dress to a football game (unless fans of my team start doing this), however, I’m not sure I’m any less fanatical than they are. I live, eat and breathe sports. Every morning, while I’m supposedly watching Scooby Doo or Sesame Street with the kids, I’m checking the sports scores on ESPN. It’s not until the kids scream or my son yells “Doo” fifteen times, that I change the channel. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Half of my wardrobe says Mets or Jets on it. When we go on vacation, I’ll pack my clothes. My wife then repacks my clothes and replaces all my Mets or Jets shirts with non-sports related shirts (and shirts without holes). I also have a hat for every sports season.

My kids’ wardrobe is also laden with Jets, Mets, and Knicks attire. For my son’s birthday, an Uncle suggested that he’d get my son a baseball jersey for a team other than the Mets. “I’ll burn it,” I joked. However, I’m not so sure I was joking.

“I can’t have my kids root for another team,” I said to my wife.

“I know a good psychiatrist.”

“Is he a Mets fan?’”

Then there are the lengths to which I’ll go to watch a game. About 20 years ago, there was a movie with Robin Williams and Kurt Russell, The Best of Times, in which Williams is a fanatical football fan. Williams is invited to a romantic dinner and proceeds to set up his place at the dinner table so he can view a football game on TV, unbeknownst to his date. When one team fumbles the ball, Williams screams and blows his cover. I’ve actually done this, except, in my case, it was a family dinner and I didn’t blow my cover.

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine won a free luxury box to a Mets game, which included free drinks, free food, VIP treatment, etc. I was invited but it was the same day as a family christening. Of course, selfishly, I chose to go to the Mets game. At least I realize I have a problem. Unfortunately, I’ve also come to realize there are now about 10 channels of ESPN (not including pay-per-view).

My sports addiction isn’t all bad, though. In fact, it’s led to some funny moments. When my daughter was two, a neighbor asked Lexy what her name was. She excitedly responded, “Alexandra….Alexandra Mets.” I grinned from ear to ear—my wife, well, she didn’t find it quite as funny.

I also recently took my daughter to her first baseball game. We had a great time and it’s an experience I’ll always cherish. I can’t wait to take my son to his first game. (As long as the Mets win, that’ll be a great day, too.)

There are other positive things resulting from my sports fanaticism as well. Sports provide a special bond between my father and me. We have memories of games we attended and watched 20 years ago and sports always give us something to talk (and complain) about.

So maybe I don’t need a 12-step program after all, perhaps, just an occasional reminder to keep sports in perspective. As long as that reminder doesn’t come on Super Bowl Sunday, I’ll be fine.

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Cursed!

Jets fever was running high as my kids plastered homemade green and white Jets signs all over the house. My wife, who likes football about as much as an old-fashioned enema, suddenly sported a green Coach bag. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Neighbors and friends even dared to utter the two words Jets fans were told to never, ever say in a public place: Super Bowl.

Adding to the hysteria, Mayor Bloomberg said the Jets were not only going to the Super Bowl but were winning it. As the Jets headed to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers, everything seemed to be in place for a return to glory.

Not so fast.

According to one of my friends, “Joe Namath sold his soul to the devil so the Jets could win the Super Bowl in 1969. And they haven’t won since.”

He had a point about the Jets long history of losing. But his story was pure fiction.

“You don’t really believe that, do you?”

“What do you think?” he said with a straight face.

Yeah, sure, I said to myself. I also believe in Big Foot, the Loch Ness monster and that Donald’s Trump hair is real.

Starting to doubt what I believed, I decided to check with an honest, reliable source: my eight-year-old daughter.

“Lexy, you don’t believe in fairy tales or monsters or curses or jinxes, do you?” I said half-smiling.

“Of course not; don’t be silly, Daddy. I’m not a baby,” she said as if I should be ashamed for asking.

“That’s what I thought, just checking.”

“Hey Daddy, guess what? My tooth is loose.” She wiggled her tooth. “The tooth fairy is going to come tonight and bring me $10.”

Some reliable source she turned out to be. And I was going to be out ten bucks.

On the morning of the game, my confidence in the Jets started to waiver. I even found video on the Internet proving Trump’s hair was simply a comb over gone awry. I was starting to believe in the curse.

Feigning confidence, I began texting my buddies to say we were going to the Super Bowl. I was searching for reassurance.

I approached the kids who were watching TV. “Who’s going to watch the Jets win today?”

“They’re going to lose.” Lexy was dead serious.

“No, they’re not,” my son said taking my side. “Who’s playing, Dad?”

And to think just yesterday they were painting Jets signs.

“Jets and Steelers. Are you watching the game with me?”

“He’s playing dolls with ME!”

“Sorry, I’m playing dolls with Lex.”

Dolls over football; it might take years of therapy before I fully recovered.

I then looked to my wife for comfort.

“Are the Jets going to win today?”

“Yeah, go Jets!”

“So are you watching the game with me?”

“I don’t like them that much.”

“But what about the go Jets and the Green Coach bag?”

“I can root for the Jets while I’m watching HGTV. And the bag is brown, hon. You’re color-blind, remember?”

Annoyed, I stomped back to the living room. I’d root the Jets to victory by myself.

Unfortunately, later that day I watched in agony as the Jets lost one game from the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. The curse lived.

But, ironically, I was upbeat. There’s always next year. And in the Jets case, the year after, and the year after that, and the year after that, etc., etc.

Copyright © 2011, Brad Manzo

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