Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Blogger's spell check, which several astute readers have noted I should use more often, does not recognize the words "blog" "blogger" or "blogging."

This strikes me as odd. I promise you Microsoft Word's spell check can identify the words "Microsoft" "critical update" and "monopoly."

I'm just saying...

Saturday, October 28, 2006


It's Halloween time, and Nate and Will are ready for the action. They went to their first Halloween party tonight.

Their costumes are deceptively clever. Nate is dressed as Will, and Will is dressed as Nate. I know, it just blows your mind when you see it. I'm very excited for the candy gathering capacity these children represent. Next Tuesday, I can walk up to any house with these two kids and say, "trick or treat" and get free candy... twice! You expect these two to share that Fun Size Snickers? I think not.

In other news, we just bought plane tickets to visit Phoenix, Arizona late in December. This is a big deal because it will be a gathering of four generations of Workman men. Nate and Will are the only two boys in their generation, and therefore the only two who can possibly carry on the Workman name.

Their great-grandfather got sick this week and has been in the hospital, so both Nate and Will asked me to attach a few extra photos with messages from them. We'll start with Will, who looks like he wants to throw a punch at you, but that's just how he says "hello."Will says he's excited to meet you because you've been known to slip 20 dollar bills into the hands of dashing young men who drop by your place. Will has also been known to fall asleep in front of the TV, so that's something the two of you can do together. Will says he would like to puke on you, because that's really the highest form of affection he's capable of right now. Either way, he's counting the weeks until you meet.

Then there's Nate. He's not making a fist, so at least he's not so threatening.Nate understands you have a very amusing story about meeting your wife at a Halloween dance. He's also heard rumors that you once had an ugly redheaded cousin. And what about your dad moving your mom out to the Indian reservation in eastern Utah? He's anxious to hear those stories. He's never heard them. Really.

We'll all pay a visit sometime around December 28th.

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Friday, October 27, 2006


Tonight I was reading and came across a sentence containing the words "nay, nay." Then the strangest thing happened. A song ran through my head. A very simple, very stupid song:

There's a brown and white pony
And his name is Patch the Pony
And he says, "Nay, nay, from strangers stay away!"

Where on earth did this come from? Could it be, for no good reason, my brain was coughing up the contents of a safety filmstrip I saw in kindergarten? Sure enough, more pieces came back and I remembered that I had seen a "Patch the Pony" program when I was 5.

It really is stunning to think about the process that unfolded in those few seconds. In 1974, I'm shown a low-budget safety presentation. This memory stores itself somewhere in my brain, where it lies dormant for 32 years. Then a random sentence triggers some series of synapses, and I'm singing a children's song I hadn't thought about since I walked out of the classroom that day.

This made me wonder, "just what became of Patch?" While I was able to remember the song, I didn't quite remember what Patch was all about. I knew he was a pony, and that he had an eye patch. What happened to his eye was never explained, but I think most of us kids assumed he lost it in a duel.

So, just for kicks, I google "Patch the Pony" just to see if some other aging Gen-Xer has created a tribute site full of sarcasm and irony and whatever else the Baby Boomers accuse us of having. Imagine my surprise when I discover that Patch the Pony Inc. is still an operating company in some small town in South Carolina. They're still selling videocasettes of this program. I didn't see it on video, but on filmstrip. (If you're too young to know what a filmstrip is... go ask your grandfather. If you're too young to know what a videocasette is, ask me, I'm feeling about as old as your grandfather tonight.)

As I read the description of of the presentation, I remember more clearly seeing it all those years ago, when Nixon was still in the White House. I remember thinking the story was pretty cool. But reading the description, I'm also struck by now stupid the plot is. Check this out:

"The legend of "Patch the Pony" tells the delightful story of a brave young pony who leaves the farm where he grew up, journeys to the big city to be with children he loves and becomes a hero by rescuing a small boy from a potential abductor. He wins the respect of children, parent's school officials and police through his efforts to protect young children from strangers. Patch teaches children his safety message of… "Nay, Nay from strangers stay away""

Quite frankly that story sounds a little creepy. I cleary wasn't a very discriminating viewer back then. But for all my mockery, I guess they got one thing right. Their program description says it is easily remembered by children. I remember it. So there. Of course, I make my living talking to strangers, so perhaps the program isn't as effective as they hoped.

Note: more baby pictures soon, I promise.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I spent most of the last week covering a story that got national attention. Then Julie’s sister left town, so we actually had to raise the twins without any help. The combination of those two events has chewed into my sleep time so much that I can barely put together a coherent thought, let alone write anything here. So instead, I’ll pick over the contents of my brain.

They spilled out last night in the form of a strange and vivid dream. In it, I was watching a TV show that was equal parts Frontline and Saturday Night Live. The topic was global trade and the serious Frontline narrator was talking about how the United States no longer makes anything, but simply imports them from places like China and The Philippines. The screen was filled with pictures of factories cranking out flat screen televisions and stereos and computers and the like.

Then the Saturday Night Live voice says, “Eventually all those Asian people will riot and take the televisions for themselves.”

The Frontline voice stutters a bit, and the SNL guy continues, “All that stuff is just going to be piling up on a dock soon. Global trade is based on open shipping routes, and what do you think is going to happen when Boat AIDS takes out all commercial shipping?”

“Boat AIDS?” the Frontline voice asks as more stock footage of factory workers plays on the screen.

The SNL voice continues, “Yeah, boat AIDS. It’s like AIDS, but it takes out boats.”

“There’s no such thing as boat AIDS.”

“Well, not yet. But it’s really just a matter of time. It’s transmitted through contact with fluids, and all those boats are in the same body of water.”

“But a boat’s not alive, you can’t kill it.”

“Not without Boat AIDS, it’s pretty powerful stuff.”

About that time, I woke up, confused, scared, and deeply ashamed that some recess of my subconscious mind was able to conjure up that exchange.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Today's post is the product of two people's suggestions.

The first comes from my friend Marc, who said it was time to upgrade to a better camera. You see, some of my earlier posts featured some less-than-focused pictures of the twins. For years, we've had a nice point and shoot camera, but it's not great for close up shots or low light photos. For instance, look at how awful this photo is... Sure, I'm seen playing with Will, but any astute observer will immediately notice that there is a clear lack of megapixels in this image. Same with this photo...

I know, I know, you're looking at this picture and thinking, "what is this crap?" No more will you, fair reader, have to suffer such indignities any more, because we've got a new camera, and we're going to use it.

But first, let's discuss the other suggestion. It wasn't a suggestion as much as a smart alec comment. My friend Pat is one of the best drummers I know and occupies an elite spot on my sidebar. But he had a baby earlier this year (actually, his wife had the kid, Pat just watched) and his blog has basically turned into a shrine to his kid. So now, just because I've mercilessly made fun of him for this, he feels it's time to turn the tables. So he has accused me of turning my site into a baby shrine.

This is unfair, because I actually write about things other than the unbelievable cuteness of my kids. Pat? Not so much. And that's all the more remarkable because my kids are cuter than his. This is perfectly illustrated by these new, higher resolution images of my kids. Before I got this new camera, you never could have seen the drool streaming down Will's cheek. Has Ruby drooled this cutely? It seems unlikely. And don't get me started on Nate... Still soulful, still cute, but with less drool.

"Is that a macro lens you're using, Matt?" you ask.

Yes, it is.

"How close can you get with that thing?"

I don't know, let's see.

"Egad, that's close! Which kid is that?"

I don't remember.

"Back up and get a shot of the both of them."


"Wow, they really are cuter than Pat's kid!"

That's what I'm saying.

"Pat only has one kid, right?"


"Don't you feel sorry for him?"

Every single day.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006


My wife is a wonderful woman, but she’s not without her faults. For instance, she owns an album by the Dixie Chicks. She’s also got a weakness for British TV.

Before we go any further, I should note that there is nothing wrong with British TV, as a matter of fact, British TV is responsible for some of the best comedy moments ever, (Monty Python, The Office, The Young Ones). Alas, the Brits crank out more than just absurdist humor. They also produce a lot of costume dramas and murder mysteries.

I’ll deal with the last category first. Our TiVo is clogged with British murder mysteries. They have names like Murder City, Midsomer Murders, and Murdering Murder Murderess Murder Murder. Julie’s favorite is Midsomer Murders, a show where a frumpy detective named Barnaby solves mysteries in a rural English county. The body counts are extraordinarily high in this show. One person gets pushed off a rooftop at the start of the show, and before the hour-long program is over, a half dozen eccentric country folk have met an untimely end. If the show is, indeed, an accurate picture of English country living, one can assume that the entire population of rural England is murdered every year. Leading cause of death in the countryside: blunt force trauma to the head. Candlesticks are especially deadly out there.

Then you’ve got the costume dramas. If there are powdered wigs and elaborate, uncomfortable costumes to be had, Julie will consider it entertainment. It helps, also, that she has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the British (and French) monarchy. She’ll be watching a show on Queen Elizabeth and be spouting off facts about who hated who and what sorts of intrigues were going on in court.

I spend a fair amount of time making fun of Julie for her viewing habits, but I’ve realized that there’s no small amount of hypocrisy in this. You see, I’ve got a favorite British costume drama as well, and the new season just started this week. I’m speaking, of course, of the British House of Commons; specifically a weekly 30 minute ritual known as Prime Minister’s Questions.

Every week, the Prime Minister is dragged in front of the House and subjected to a 30 minute grilling from the MPs (that’s what the Brits call a Member of Parliament… it’s amazing what you can pick up on C-SPAN). While that may sound as dull as a presidential press conference, rest assured it’s not. It’s huge fun. (Although not quite as fun as the South Korean National Assembly, which sometimes resembles a pro wrestling cage match.)

This show has everything. For starters, there’s plenty of drama. There are a few hundred MPs, but only three who matter. First you’ve got Tony Blair, once the Labor Party wiz kid who led his party out of the wilderness. Now he’s an embattled leader defending an unpopular war in Iraq and his close ties to an unpopular leader on the other side of the Atlantic. He’s still one flash debater, but he’s slowing down a bit, and he may have just been stabbed in the back by his #2 guy, Gordon Brown.

While the ruling party is squabbling over who gets to take Tony’s place next year, the Conservative party, once the refuge of pasty old white men who flogged their servants, now has a new leader, David Cameron. Cameron, whose youth and dashing good looks remind many of Tony Blair in his prime. Cameron, who is boldly leading his party into the political center. Cameron, whose embrace is tender, but still firm enough to let you know he’s a man… perhaps I’ve said too much. Whatever the case, he’s one fine debater in the Commons, unlike his predecessor Michael Howard, who had the demeanor of your grumpy Uncle Angus.

Then there’s good ol’ Menzies Campbell (Ming to his friends), the leader of the Liberal Democrats. The Lib Dems are the third party looking to play with the big boys. They were once led by a man named Charles Kennedy, who had a very silly Scottish accent. I miss Charles Kennedy.

Each week, Cameron finds some saucy way to ask when Blair is stepping down, Campbell asks Blair why new-Labor is morally bankrupt, and Blair spends his answer time explaining why he’s better than them.

Then you’ve got the rowdy backbenchers. They ask Blair lots of silly questions and yell “here, here” a lot. A typical exchange might go a little like this:

Backbencher: Mr. Speaker, will the Prime Minister explain why he opposes giving aid to sacked auto-workers in my constituency? Will he also explain to me why he is so heartless, and so stupid? Will the also explain further why he is so ugly?

(“Here, here! Here here!”)

Blair: I would remind my honorable friend that the party opposite opposes the aid as well, that the party opposite strangles puppies, and that my honorable friend was pictured in The Sun Wednesday French kissing a Latvian hooker!

(“Here, here! Here here!”)

I’ll take 30 minutes of this over a whole season of Survivor.

The other big draw for PMQ (the cool kids call it PMQ) is the accents. In America, we usually only hear two types of British accents, the BBC newsreader accent, and the “My Fair Lady” Cockney accent. But there’s so much more out there. If the Prime Minister takes 30 questions each week, you’ll probably hear 25 different accents, from Stuffy-Old-Aristocrat, to Sounds-Like-He-Was-In-The-Beatles, to Sounds-Like-Those-Guys-In-“The-Full-Monty.”

But the real prize accent is the Scottish accent. It makes me giggle. I just can’t help it. I badly want to visit Scotland, but I’m afraid I’d laugh at everyone. I’d be kicked to the pavement before I could explain, “it’s an affectionate laugh!” Several months ago, a Scottish MP (not to be confused with a member of Scottish Parliament) said the words “Tesco Superstore,” during PMQ. I just about peed myself with joy. Just try it, try saying “Tesco Superstore” with a Scottish accent. It’s big, big fun.

Every now and then I wish we had something like this here in the US. I’d love them to haul President Bush into the House of Representatives once a week and give him a good grilling. Of course we’d get it all wrong. The House is run by the President’s party, so they wouldn’t ask any good questions. Furthermore, no matter who is in power, we’d find a way to make the whole process sleazy, mean spirited, and basically no fun.

The Canadians have a version of PMQ, but it’s pretty boring.

So the Brits are the only game in town, and that game is back on this week. Play on, Brits, play on!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Every parent in the world believes they have the cutest baby in the world. It's tedious, I know. But what if you actually are that parent that actually has the cutest baby in the world, is that your fault? And what if you have the TWO cutest babies in the world? Then what?

With that in mind, it's time to take another journey into the world of excruciating cuteness.

This week, the boys are able to do more stuff than ever. (I'm to understand this is a normal process known in books as "child development.") When I say "more stuff than ever," I of course mean, "not all that much stuff." But they can still so more than before. So there.

The biggest development is the realization that the beige thing that flashes in their field of vision occasionally is actually a part of their bodies, and they can control it. This news was greeted by much joy by Nate and Will.
Well, some joy. With some very basic motor skills, our two little bundles of white vomit can now occupy themselves by batting around plastic objects. Here's Will going to town on a plastic giraffe:
He's not always this violent...
Nate likes to get in on the action, too. If you put him on the play mat, he'll just...
Ok, he's not quite as into it. But he makes up for his lack of motor skills with soulful looks.
Nate is also working on his charm. He's very good at keeping his parents from putting him down for a nap by making silly faces.
Will is also proving to be a very smiley baby this week. He's been doing cute things like this.
And, every now and then, making me truly believe that he may be the cutest baby alive (apart from his brother, of course):
It's getting to the point where I can't wait to come home from work and say "hello" to the guys.
Of course, I come home from work around 7 PM, and we start getting them ready for bed at about 7:30. That means I 've only really got a few minutes with them before it disintegrates to...
Oh well, it's nice while it lasts.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006


So the Foley scandal is making its way across The Hill and there's no telling who it may take out before it's over.

The scandal itself is icky and all the details you need to know have been plastered over the media. But the political culture in Washington usually demands a sacrifice during these kinds of events, and more than a few people think Speaker Dennis Hastert should be the one with his head on a pike when this is all over. After all, he recently said that he takes responsibility for the scandal.

I'd go on a rant on the "full responsibility" thing, but I already did about 2 years ago when I was getting ready to graduate from Cal State, Northridge. The news of abuse at Abu Ghraib had just become public. So rather than re-construct the exact same outrage, I'll just trundle out my last stab at it. It all pretty much applies today, except for the hopelessly out of date pop culture references. (They're already stale after 29 months, who would have guessed?) So just plug in the appropriate scandle and guilty parties. I fear I'll have to haul out this old column again in another few years. Until then...

First published:
May 17, 2004

I should start off by saying that I take full responsibility for this column. I take full responsibility for any slander or misinformation contained on this page. As a matter of fact, I’m going to go ahead and take full responsibility for everything Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker for the past two weeks. I’d take responsibility for recent atrocities in Iraq, but somebody already beat me to it.

Taking full responsibility for things is all the rage these days. When I say “taking full responsibility,” I mean, of course, “not taking any responsibility.”

Take the case of US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For the past several weeks, horrific photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq have appeared in newspapers and on TV. Stories of beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy slowly leaked out as well. Americans were appalled with the photos and the stories. They wanted to know just who was responsible for these atrocities. After several days, they had their answer. Rumsfeld went before a congressional committee and said he was fully responsible for what happened.

The news was stunning. The Secretary of Defense just said he was responsible for torture (well, he called it “abuse”), sex crimes, and perhaps even a pair of murders. The repercussions were potentially serious. If a person is behind something like this, that person can expect to lose his job and perhaps even face criminal prosecution. Days later, President Bush went to the Pentagon to deliver his verdict: “You are doing a superb job.”

At that moment, all of American entered a new era of love and forgiveness. America isn’t about punishing people for their pasts, it’s about taking responsibility. Soon, all systems will work on this theory. I imagine one day in the near future the following exchange will take place:

Police Officer: Mr. Workman, my radar says you were going 90 miles per hour, and the back of your car appears to be filled with stolen electronics and dead bodies.

Me: I take full responsibility for this.

Police Officer: Well, off you go then. That was very brave of you to take responsibility for this.

When the history of this era is written, we may discover that we are now living in the Golden Age of Responsibility. This is a good thing to know as finals week approaches. CSUN officials say that cheating on tests has doubled in the last year. Students are using text messaging and camera-phones to send questions and answers back and forth. The cheating system must not be all that good because people keep getting caught. But if they do get caught, they now know what to do to avoid getting expelled from school. “I take full responsibility for my cheating.”

If the past is any lesson, this Golden Age won’t last all that long. Golden Ages hardly ever do. So I’ve decided to get in while the getting is good. I’ll be hitting the job market soon, and I’d think it would be great recommendation to have the president say I was doing a superb job at something. With that in mind, please allow me to take full responsibility for a few things:

The construction delays at the student union.

The rising price of gas.


The California budget, energy, and water crises.


The Watergate scandal.

Pepsi Blue

The Sinking of the Lusitania.

The San Andres Fault.

The Edsel.

Lex Luthor.

Static Cling.

The strife in Venezuela.

Hurricane Andrew

That paper cut you got last week.

Donald Rumsfeld.

It feels great to get that off my back. I feel I will now be able to start my professional life with a clean slate. Sorry I had to use this space to clear the air like that. If, for some reason, you didn’t find any of this funny, don’t worry. I take full responsibility for that.

Update 10/08/2006: Donald Rumsfeld is still the US Secretary of Defense. I take full responsibility for that.

Friday, October 06, 2006


One of my favorite things about iTunes is how it enables a person to take a unique musical journey for just a few bucks.

A few weeks ago, I was searching the iTunes store for any undiscovered (by me, anyway) gem from Ben Folds. He put out a pile of EPs between his last two albums and I hadn’t heard anything from them. So you can imagine my delight when I discover that Mr. Folds had covered an old Dr. Dre song the store simply called B****** Ain’t S***. After listening to the cover, I decided to check out the original featuring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Like so many before me, I was deeply moved by this story of love and loss. Sadly, because many people are biased against rap music and don’t enjoy hearing the “f” word every 7 seconds, much of our population has been denied the grace and majesty of two of our generation’s greatest poets.

With that in mind, I’m starting an outreach program to bring the work of Dr. Dre and others to the masses by translating them into white-boy-English-major-English. You can find the original lyrics here. (Note to Mom: do NOT click on that link.) I will follow the lead of Ben Folds and disregard the verses written by Daz, Kurupt, and Jewell… those three are basically hacks. So without further ado…

B****** Ain’t S***
As translated by Matthew Workman, amateur hip hop scholar

(Snoop Dogg)
I have a low regard for women
I believe their only use is to provide me with sexual gratification
After consummation, I am quick to leave in order to distribute illicit drugs

(Dr Dre)
I was once acquainted with a man named Eric Wright
We spent many evenings engaging in sexual acts with prostitutes
We were as close as a thug with a drum machine (Translator’s note: The translation on this line is, quite frankly, a guess)
And we often played basketball on the streets of Compton. (Translator’s note: The original text uses the term “balling.” The word can be used in reference to basketball or sexual activity. But given the context of the song, it appears likely Mr. Dre was referring to sports.)

My musical career began to take off,
And I achieved a series of number one hits
As long as I was reaping substantial royalties for these songs
I was not overly concerned with the whereabouts of my significant other

This was good news because she had taken up with a white man
She was essentially serving as a live in prostitute for the man
This sideline did not earn her much money
So now she’s suing me, even though it is her own actions that are now bringing her woe

My girlfriend does not understand the code of ethics involved with prostitution and other criminal activity
This has caused her be financially unsuccessful
She believes legal action against me will earn her money
This gives my butt something to talk about (Translator’s note: this may not be the most precise translation)

(Snoop Dogg)
I once was romantically involved with a girl named Mandy May
We frequently had sexual relations
She was a skilled lover, and this endeared her to me

Members of my peer group claimed she was a bad influence
But I’m the maniac in black Mr. Snoop Eastwood (Translator’s note: This is the exact wording from the song, there’s really no other translation for it)
I imagined my unpredictable and violent demeanor would discourage my peers from making advances on my girlfriend
This would prove untrue

Now I’m housed in the county jail
I have been serving a six month sentence, but I have now completed it (Translator’s note: the original text says “it’s time to bail,” which could be taken literarily or figuratively)
I am released on a pleasant day and my friends pick me up in a two-door vehicle
They inform me that my girlfriend has become a prostitute during my incarceration
While I am a newly released prisoner, I am now inclined to violate the terms of my parole
As we drive towards my girlfriend’s house, my friend Dr. Dre gives me a German-made handgun
I kick open the door and discover my cousin in sexual congress with my girlfriend
I discharge my firearm
My heart is broken, but I am still extremely upset
This incident has done nothing to raise my opinion of my now-deceased girlfriend

I have a low regard for women
I believe they are only useful for my own sexual gratification
After consummation, I am quick to leave in order to distribute illicit drugs
(repeat two times)

Monday, October 02, 2006


One of my favorite sketches from The State involves a woman who's so enamored with her grandchild that she has a seizure. At one point, the woman (played by a man, of course) says something like "My grandson is cuter than two little chipmunks wearing little bow ties and fireman hats and they've got little suspenders on and they're riding in a little fire truck." About that time, the woman falls into an elevator shaft.

With that in mind, make sure there are no open pits of any kind in the vicinity. Because it's time to take another trip to the land of excruciating cuteness...

If you'll recall a post from several weeks back, I was concerned that Will had become overly involved with the black power movement. Here's a pic from last month when he was showing off his militant side...
Now we don't have any problem with Will affiliating himself with whatever group he wants, but he's very young to be making these choices. We thought it was just a phase, but then he did this...
We've been keeping an eye on the situation, and we've found there actually is cause for alarm, but for different reasons. More on that later. But what of young Nate? Several weeks ago, we posted photos of Nate being the victim of a violent attack by Will. Nate has spent most of the last month plotting his revenge...
He looks all smiles and sweetness, but he sees that Will is sleeping, and vulnerable for counter attack...

The justice is swift, violent, and utterly humiliating...

Nate adds insult to injury by finishing his maneuver with a victory dance...
But if dancing is his game, Nate may be the loser in the long run. You see, while Will has been pumping his fists into the air making his parents think he was advocating Something Power (Will Power?), he was actually moving his talents in a different direction. Yes, Will has become a cheerleader.
He's got spirit... yes he does.

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