How Was Your Summer?

endofsummer

I’m not going to bury the lede (I majored in journalism. Let me be all journalist-y, dammnit. And yes, lede rather than lead makes me seem extra journalist-y. Roll with it.) I went swimming for the first time in two years. Since the day Jax died.

In middle August we camped at Carpinteria State Beach with a bunch of families that work with my wife in the NICU. On the second day of hanging out on the beach, Gray began to warm up to the idea of playing in the water. Enough so that he asked to boogie board. I grabbed an unused board and carried the densely boned boy (he’s fucking heavy) in to the ocean. I tried sticking him on the board, got him horizontal and that was enough for him. After hiding under a t-shirt the first day, I was up to my gut in ocean, which my body finally warmed up to. I walked him back up to mom on the beach and returned to the water, my hands clutching the board. It was time to hurdle this obstacle.

I swiftly considered the significance of being in the water again. Like, for three seconds. Then I buried that shit down as I paddled out to some others in our group waiting on waves. A part of me felt like I was betraying Jax by returning to the water. It’s a similar feeling to the guilt when I first found myself smiling in fleeting moments months after he died. As if my love and grieving over Jax wasn’t as deep as it was when I only cried in heart ache. But I’ve mastered stuffing things down, and spent the next hour feeling uber inadequate at catching waves while the sun burned the top of my hands. THE TOP OF MY HANDS, PEOPLE. The hell?

Without traffic (a So Cal mantra of sorts), Carpinteria is about two hours away. Naturally, it took us about four-and-a-half hours to get up there on a Thursday. This is a snippet of Gray for about two hours of the drive.

The kids started preschool when we returned from Carpinteria. They love it. Ellie asked the teacher and the class to call her Elsa. Jax had the same teacher, so we have a strong rapport with her, and she knew that wouldn’t be okay with us. But she swears her friends call her Elsa. Of course, Gray swears they call him Hans of the Southern Isles. Anyway, how was your summer?

Other Stuff

– The 2014 CHOC Walk is just 35 days away. Go here to sign up to walk or sponsor the team. Anything and everything is greatly appreciated. I created a Facebook page for the team. We scheduled a dining for dollars fundraiser at Super Mex in Lakewood. Print out this flyer and come drink some of these with us!

beerarita-225x300

We are also planning a similar event at the Rubio’s in Orange on North Tustin Avenue, near the Orange Mall (I know it’s not called that anymore but that’s what I know it as. Also, I’m old. And I still call the place the Ducks play The Pond.) We will announce the date soon.

– I’m tired of the site’s look and will be searching for other design options in WordPress.

– Posts on the planning sheet: Gray Has a Girlfriend, Ellie Has a Boyfriend, Untitled piece on Ellie’s hips that don’t lie, regular T(GIF) and How Was Your Weekend posts.

I’m back, people.

ironjaxchocwalkflyersupermex

An Open Love Letter to Matt Shoemaker

This was intended for bugsandcranks.com, but apparently the Eastern European hackers really like the hits for their pharmacy website, because it’s been hijacked. Rather than waste my efforts, I’m going to post it here until Bugs is back up and running. Matt Shoemaker is a pitcher for the Angels, by the way. 

mattshoemakerangelstadiumwife

My Handsome Matthew David Shoemaker,

You never stop surprising me. After you signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008, our paths never crossed. How could they? You, undrafted out of Eastern Michigan, and me, only paying attention to real baseball prospects. But this year. Oh, Matty, this year. The stars brought us together.

Somehow you broke Spring Training and made the Angels’ 25-man roster. You pitched serviceably out of the bullpen, fulfilling the role of a versatile long man. Honestly, I didn’t expect you to last. In May, however, you returned. In my birthday month, no less! I just love how you knew that. Anyway, you returned, and you returned for good. Your boss, Mike Scioscia, handed you some starts once Hector Santiago shit the bed and lost his spot in the rotation.

Rotoworld treated you like another one of their hussies.

shoemaker rotoworld

But you showed them. And me, darling. You caught my interest. But I kept my distance. I didn’t think it could last. In June I swooned as you struck out a career high 10 against the Indians. You aroused my faith. So much that the stinker you tossed against the Kansas City Royals on June 27 (4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER) did little to dissuade me.

I never told you this, my man stallion, but what I saw in you, that thing that gave me hope, was your strikeouts. We all know you’re not a bombshell. Radar guns aren’t shorting out from excitement when you step on the mound. You weren’t the kind of guy that was ever going to make the cover of Baseball America. But you figured out how to succeed with the tools that God gave you.

How does one, armed with a measily 90-mph fastball, manage to strike out more than a batter per inning pitched? It’s because you know how to use your tools.

Your splitter makes me tremble inside. But it’s your ability to hit the right spots with five pitches (splitter, four-seam fastball, two-seamer, slider and knuckle curve) that puts these batters to bed to the tune of 8.86 whiffs per nine innings.

Everything changed for me on August 9. That’s the date I fell in love. The Man Crush was born. It was at home, in Anaheim, and you guys were hosting the Boston Redsox. I was laying in bed. Cemented in a 4-4 tie in the 17th inning, you entered the game in relief. Just three days before you pitched well in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 K). You twirled three perfect innings with four strikeouts until Albert Pujols’s walk-off home run ended the marathon and sent your aching arm to chill in a bucket of ice until the clubs in Downtown Santa Ana turned the lights on and made the hood rats go home.

I bragged about you to my friends. I wish I could’ve massaged that right shoulder of yours.

My honey, that is when you stole my heart. To pitch that long in relief – that well – on short rest was heroic. Gutsy. And thrilling. But you weren’t done.

When super model Garrett Richards tore up his August 20, many considered the Angels’ World Series dreams in jeopardy. Even after an 8-3 victory in that game, the clubhouse was silent. No one celebrated the victory. Everyone was crushed about losing Richards.

Baseball media based the rotation. They wondered whether you and your buddies could keep the Angels in a pennant race without the bombshell. That very next night you showed them. At Fenway Park you entered the seventh with a no-hitter until the “butthole” Will Middlebrooks ripped a double down the left field line. You finished the 2-0 victory with 7.2 IP, that one hit, just one walk and nine strike outs.

You lifted the Angels when they needed it the most, my precious. You ooze humility, grace and class. And you’ll need to do it again tonight against the Miami Marlins. That trashy Wade LeBlanc, filling in for Richards last night, was bombed in a 7-1 drubbing and you’re tied again with the Oakland A’s for the Western Division lead. We need you to keep us in the this game. To pitch well. To win. And I know you will.

My beloved, I’ll be there tonight to root you on. Look for me in the suites behind home plate. Watch for my fluttering baby blues. With butterfiles in my stomach and my heart at your mercy.

Eternally Yours,

Seth Tearz

CHOC Walk 2013: Sign Up for Team Iron Jax

CHOC Walk group, 2012.

CHOC Walk group, 2012.

Registration for the 2013 CHOC Walk in the Park recently began and team Iron Jax has been created. This year’s Walk will be Sunday, October 13 at 6:15 a.m. It will kick off at Disneyland’s Main Street U.S.A.

For those that don’t know, Jax passed away at CHOC’s pediatric intensive care unit. The entire staff was so compassionate to us and treated us with so much respect that this is our little way to give back to the hospital and the community in memory of our little hero.

What is the CHOC Walk?

The Children’s Hospital of Orange County annually raises funds to support the care, services, research and education that CHOC provides children. Last year more than 15,000 participants raise $2 million from the event, which was presented by Disneyland Resort.

The Walk is a 5k stroll through Disneyland, California Adventure and Downtown Disney. You do not receive entrance into the parks after the Walk, however, walkers have the chance to buy discounted tickets on the day of the event for later use. We took advantage of this last year and purchased park-hopper tickets for a signficant saving.

How to Register

To sign up, go here and click on “Join an Existing Team” as I’ve illustrated below.

chocwalkjointeamThen, type in “Iron Jax” as the team name to join. This will bring you to a page that lists Kristina as the team captain. Click on Iron Jax and you’re on your way.

The next page will bring you to the Iron Jax main page. To sign up, click on “Join Team” link as shown below.

jointeam

From there you have two options:

1. Individual Walker – No fee to sign up, but you must have raised a minimum of $50 by 10/12/13 to walk.

2. Register as a sleeping bear – This is for those that can’t make the walk but still want to raise funds under your team for the team and be eligible for prizes.

Choose your option, complete the New Registration section and you’re all set.

Sponsor a Walker

I’m resisting everything in my being to start making The Walking Dead jokes. Arrrgggghhhhhhhh.

Click on this link to sponsor a team or a walker. Under Team Name enter “Iron Jax”. Or, click on the team page here, select a registered participant and donate that way.

Iron Jax T-shirts

Iron Jax

Iron Jax

More information to come for ordering t-shirts featuring the above logo, created by Sam Carter.

Must Read

CHOC created two pages worth reading before the event. Please refer to these pages for any questions that you may have:

Event Information

FAQ

Prizes

As an incentive, CHOC has laid out a prize structure which can be found here.

Thank you in advance for those that choose to take part in this event as a walker, fundraiser or donor. It means so much to our family to give back to the community in Jax’s memory.

Jax Remembrance, June 24

Jax's last Angel game.

Jax’s last Angel game.

On June 24 we will be gathering at Mountain Gate Park in Corona for a casual time of remembrance to share memories, socialize and just be together. When it gets dark (roughly 8:30 or a little later) we will show a short film of pictures and home movies under the stars, so bring a blanket or some chairs. It will be very informal.

Mountain Gate Park’s Field 1 is where Jax excelled in his year of tee-ball. We think this is a perfect place to remember him. However, there is a chance that we can’t secure the place due to prior reservations. If the location does change, we will do our best to let everyone know ahead of time.

We would love to have everyone come and celebrate with us what were the best four years of our lives. All are welcome so please pass this along and share with others. If you have any questions you can reach me at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com, or leave a comment.

Jax Remembrance

7:30 p.m – 10 p.m.

Field 1 at Mountain Gate Park

3100 S. Main St, in Corona, 92881

DUOS: Pop Art Attacked Two At a Time

DUOSdef

To know Orange County artist Sam Carter is to know funny. It’s in his DNA. His father, Samuel Carter III, boasts a cold, calculating wit. If there is a line he won’t cross, it’s buried in the sand. Think the late George Carlin without the raspy voice. Sam inherited the same levity. Toss in the influences of Caddy Shack, Saturday Night Live and The Jerky Boys along with years of listening to movies and television in the background while drawing as a single child growing up in Orange and a pop culture satirical monster is born.

Carter, Director of the Design Studio at USC Auxiliary Services and formerly an art specialist at Disney’s Art Department, started drawing about age 4 or 5. He drew Garfield in elementary school and became frustrated when other kids couldn’t match his skill. When he was 9 created elaborate maps of imaginary amusement parks filled with minute detail.

In high school he started a line of T-shirts entitled Dismal with the iconic Disney “D”. One shirt featured a creepy one-eyed, one-eared Mickey Mouse while another set many Disney characters in a pool hall. While not yet defined at the time, Carter was creating pop surrealism, an underground art movement mash-up of Surrealism and popular culture created simply to entertain.The phrase originated at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 1998 for an exhibit of the same name (and book in 1999 which covered the exhibit) and is sometimes referred to as lowbrow art. It’s often filled with humor and sometimes a sarcastic comment on society.

Pop Surrealism at its Lowest Brow

Carter’s first solo art show “DUOS” exemplifies the pop culture influences from his youth. Hosted at Santa Ana’s  F+ Gallery, his collection depicts “pop culture’s most duos flyer backnotorious, obvious, famous, ambiguous and dynamic duos.” The Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood, Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction and Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are some of the 69 (of course) twosomes on exhibit starting Saturday, June 1. The themed show will run through July 10.

“I liked the idea of DUOS, it’s almost endless,” Carter said. “So picking my favorites would be fun. That’s what this type of art is all about. Nothing too serious or heavy in my stuff.”

Carter, who uses the tagline “Pop Surrealism at its Lowest Brow” on his website, began working on DUOS in January. He sketches a piece with a Wacom tablet and then creates shapes on top of it with Adobe Illustrator. He said this project forced him to learn how to simplify his designs.

All 69 DUOS, by Sam Carter

All 69 DUOS, by Sam Carter

“I usually work my art to death and not realize I should have walked away a long time ago,” he said. “This was a good learning process as an artist to only give myself a limited amount of time for each person in the duo.”

“My fucking wrist hurts from it,” he added.

Amy Kaplan, manager at F+ Gallery, first met Carter, a Cal State Fullerton art grad, at a bi-monthly life drawing group at Dr. Sketchy’s, an anti-art school in Anaheim. Kaplain said the gallery normally features fine art, but her and owner Micah Kersh have always wanted to mix in pop art, and she thought Carter was the perfect fit.

“I’ve always been a fan of his work,” Kaplan said, “and have wanted to feature him in one way or the other.”

A huge Back to the Future fan, Carter said his favorite pieces are Doc and Marty or movie maker Kevin Smith’s characters Jay and Silent Bob.

Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood, DUOS, by Sam Carter.

Blues Brothers Jake and Elwood, DUOS, by Sam Carter.

“It’s fun to have an art show where you can have someone like Jay in a piece giving the  finger,” Carter said. “A simple gesture is so true to his character.”  Each duo can be purchased as limited editions on opening night.

Attack of Pop Art Rages On

Carter said he sees himself expanding the DUOS collection in the future. He hopes to hit 100 total tandems and feature them on his website at samcarterart.com.

In August, Carter and a group of artists under the moniker Popzilla will put on a themed art show called Mega Mouse, which takes a look at what would happen if Disney continues to buy up creative properties, like they have with Star Wars and Marvel. Popzilla’s first show, Rat Trap, was a celebrity roast of Disneyland and earlier this year Rothick Art Haus hosted SteamPOP, which covered all things pop culture seen through “steam punk” goggles. Carter said the group is always looking for “awesome, nerdy new artists” to join his crew.

For More Information:

F+ Gallery

samcarterart.com

Popzilla on Facebook

duos flyer back

Announcement

In an attempt to rationalize my need to watch more baseball at home, my agent is in talks with the site Bugs & Cranks to secure a writing position that will involve jock itch, pats on the butt and dick jokes. FOX Sports senior writer Ken Rosenthal is reporting, according to sources familiar with the situation, that a deal is expected as early as one second after this is posted.

Per the site’s about section:

Bugs & Cranks is your source for oddball baseball news and offbeat analysis. Founded in 2006, Bugs & Cranks has become one of the Internet’s most popular baseball destinations. Humor, analysis, interviews and opinion;  if it’s baseball, Bugs & Cranks has something to say about it.

I think I’ll fit in pretty well. The site’s footer indicates it is part of the USA Today Sports Media Group. I have no idea how that relationship works, but I hope their Human Resources department is properly staffed to deal with my arrival.

Mad Men has ruined me. I demand decanters filled with brown booze, clean tumbler glasses and bucket constantly stocked with ice in my new office. I want a secretary who will block the editorial staff from entering my office so I can think(nap) about new story ideas. And I want to refer to female staff as toots, babe and honey. You know, like how our grandpas used to do business.

At some point I’ll figure out what the hell Bugs & Cranks means and get back to you. I tried Urban Dictionary but it didn’t offer any clarity.

Urbandictionary.com definition

Urbandictionary.com definition

cranks

Urbandictionary.com definition

I suppose it’ll be addressed in orientation. Of note, don’t read the first definition of Cranks. Whatever you do. Don’t read it.

In the meantime, know that I have several story ideas kicking around for this site that I’m working on. So keep clicking this site. Keep following on Facebook and Twitter. And have a good f’ing weekend.

Smiling Through Tearz – Things to Know

Things to know before you get started:

  • Nothing I write is reflective of my wife or my family. It’s solely my own opinion and perspective. And it may be warped. Stuff might make your heart ache. Stuff might make your belly ache. You’ve been warned. But it’s real.
  • Read the About page.
  • Topics will include my road through grief recovery. Funny stories about my kids. Reflections on Jax. Adventures in drinking. Anything and everything.
  • Email me at seth@smilingthroughtearz.com
  • Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SethTearz.
  • Let’s be amigos on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/seth.tearz.
  • If you like something that you read, please share it with others.

Thanks for reading and come back often.