Awkward Dave Learns Why Dreams are Stupid and Mean Nothing

I had an incredibly "realistic" dream last night that I ran for governor (absurd) and actually won the election (ridiculous) and then, when I went over to the statehouse to start my term, I learned that the salary was abysmally low (which is patently untrue, New Jersey governors are paid the fourth highest salary in the country-- 175,000 dollars) and so I told them that I couldn't afford to do it; it was embarrassing and awkward-- and everyone was really pissed off at me for wasting their time-- and, as a compromise, they made me do the job for a month while they found someone else, and that really annoyed me because I had to drive to Trenton every day, which ruined my summer vacation (also silly, as the next gubernatorial election in New Jersey will take place on November 7th).

The Test 62: History and Futility

This week on The Test, I challenge the ladies with a rather grim thought experiment (thanks to Chuck Klosterman) and while they perform admirably, it might all be for nought . . . so check it out, keep score . . . or don't, because we are all merely grains of sand in the hourglass of time, drifting down down down, towards the neck, and the inevitable drop into the abyss (unless some greater power flips the hourglass over, and we all get another crack at it).

Postcards from the Dead

My friend and colleague Stacey has to sort out a morbid holiday dilemma . . . she made a family-photo Christmas card last year, printed a stack of them, but she but neglected to mail them out, and now she wants to use those cards this year-- why waste them?-- but the photo on the cards includes her deceased dog, Norman . . . and so we were trying to figure out if it's weird and creepy to send out a Christmas card with a dead dog on it . . . and besides, she has a new dog (Walter . . . she likes old man names) and it would be rather rude to cut Walter out of the picture . . . and while we never came to a concrete decision on the proper thing to do, the discussion reminded Stacey of the grim death announcement postcard that has resided on the English Office bulletin board for many years . . . no one remembers who delivered the card to the office and no one knows the person the card "fondly remembers" . . . he might have been a student at the school or perhaps he was a substitute teacher or an aid, his identity has always been a mystery, but for reasons of superstition, no teacher would throw the card away; I had long forgotten about this item, but when Stacey pointed it out, I took it down and tore it to shreds, right in front of her face, just to freak her out, and it worked like a charm-- she shrieked and then yelled, "He's going to haunt the shit out of you!" and so I did my usual taunting of the gods and spirits, demanding that they strike me dead with lightning or stop my heart, but neither thing happened, and so it seems that I am immune to spectral power of all apparitions and phantasmagoria.

Are These Pants Blue or Black?

They should write the color of the clothing on the tag.

I Might Be From Pungudutivu

J. D. Salinger waits until chapter five to reveal that Holden Caulfield's brother Allie died of leukemia-- and this is an excellent characterization strategy-- after reading the opening pages of the novel, you form one opinion about Holden . . . that he's rather whiny and annoying, disaffected and disenchanted, and then you have to totally revise your opinion when you are presented with this new and rather grim piece of information . . . they say that first impressions are everything, but that's not necessarily true, especially if a later piece of information that you learn about someone is particularly relevant; for example: you probably think this blog is a puddle of drivel and you only read it so you can register your disgust with my insipid ramblings, BUT if I divulged that I was not actually Dave, but a ninety-four year old Sri Lankan woman named Ajani who lives in a mudbrick house on the island of Pungudutivu and who loves to post discursive sentences as a pretentious balding American pseudo-intellectual, then this blog would take on an entirely new tenor . . . unfortunately, that's not true . . .  but it does raise an interesting question: what game-changing piece of information would you withhold until the middle pages of your autobiography?

Let's Do the Time Suck Again

When I first enter my classroom in the morning, the amount of time I spend opening difficult to access windows-- actual glass windows that I need to open to let cooler air into my room, which are set up in six columns of three, so that I have to stand on top of the window ledge in order to open the top set-- and then the time it takes to set up the many fans, and then the time I spend opening various virtual windows on my computer, so that I can log in to all the various platforms we use (if we use Google classroom then why did we switch out email to Microsoft Outlook?) is a tedious, inefficient time suck, as I could be grading papers, preparing my lessons, organizing my materials, and writing this blog (which is also a tragic tragic time suck . . . but unlike opening windows, real and virtual, I actually enjoy wasting my time on this . . . or, as is the case this morning, seven minutes of my school contract time . . . please don't rat me out).

R.I.P. Greasetruck Studios . . .

It looks like the desktop computer and digital audio converter in my makeshift music studio have finally bitten the dust . . . I've resuscitated them many times from the brink of disaster, but I think this is it . . . new drivers and updates have done nothing-- luckily, I pumped out one last podcast before everything exploded in a burst of feedback-- and while I'm a little sad, that it ended with a power surge and some kind of short circuit that busted my Steinberg UR22,  I've had this computer for a long long time (and I put it together myself) and I'm excited to finally update my hardware, but now the question is: do I spend the $$$ on a Mac?

Give Us This Nada Our Daily Nada

I recognize the absurdity of a blog about nothing commenting on a TV show about nothing, but Seinfeld is actually about everything (and so is this sentence) and it took a book about nothing to make me realize how complicated and deep my feelings are about a show about nothing; Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, sports the subtitle "How A Show About Nothing Changed Everything" and this is accurate . . . the book is not some deconstructive analysis of Seinfeld's philosophy, neuroticism and anxious characterization . . . it's more of a history of change, both during the course of the show and during the course of the zeitgeist during the show's run, more of an an explanation of just how difficult it is to write, cast, and maintain a dynamic television show and maintain quality and consistency, week to week, year to year, and even day to day; Armstrong refers to the great moments in the show's history but doesn't overly describe these moments, so the writing is fast and fresh and informative (but probably only totally comprehensible to a true Seinfeld fan) and while the book is a comprehensive history of the show and the alternate universe it created (and the interaction of the Seinfeld universe with the actual universe) it also encourages plenty of nostalgia for people who watched the show when it aired . . . this is a tribute to the last time that network TV was cool, to the last time that there was a true cultural touchstone that everyone shared in a timely fashion (the show aired on Thursday night, and everyone at work dissected the episode Friday morning) and this deeply fond nostalgia about the show has motivated me, in true Seinfeldian fashion, to NOT watch any reruns . . . this is the one great sitcom I've completely withheld from my kids-- we've done The Office and Parks and Rec and some 30 Rock and lots of Community-- but I don't want them to see Seinfeld until they are ready to appreciate it . . . and this book makes me want this to happen soon; anyway, one of the interesting things Seinfeldia explores in detail is that almost all of the plotlines in the show were inspired by real-life anecdotes-- at first they used things that happened to Larry David, and then, when they ran out of Larry David anecdotes, they used things that happened to the ever-revolving crew of writers . . . Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld basically mined the writers for these real incidents and then sent them packing) and so, in this spirit, I'd like to share two Seinfeldian moments that happened to me that were provoked by the show, both of them spongeworthy:

1) I won't mention any names in this story because I'm rather embarrassed by my behavior (a common Seinfeldian theme) but the setting was a high school cafeteria-- I had "cafeteria duty," which means you need to loosely monitor the students while they eat lunch-- and there was a "close talker" in my section-- she was a Spanish teacher and when we conversed, I often had to literally back away from her to preserve my personal space (I do enjoy my personal space . . . in fact, I'm a bit claustrophobic) and this was so pronounced that she would often drive me around and around the lunch table that we stood next to . . . I would slowly back up as she got closer and closer to my face, and the other teachers in our section were English teachers-- friends of mine-- and they enjoyed watching this to no end, as the woman only did this to me, and the two English teachers were Seinfeld fans, of course (as was the close talker!) and so one day, after several months of close talking, I told my friends to find an obscure vantage point where they could observe me talking with the close talker because I was going to make history and stand my ground and we could all see what happened, and so I did it-- despite my claustrophobia-- I stood my ground . . . though I wanted to laugh-- and the two of them witnessed this from the corner of the cafeteria . . . I didn't back up, I stood solidly and she got closer and closer until she was less than an inch from my face, talking away, so close that I could see the specks of saliva on her lips . . . I didn't know what she was saying and I wanted to laugh, and I stole a glance at my friends and they were laughing and then I suddenly felt very guilty and regretful for doing the experiment, because the close talker was a super-nice lady and we were in real life, not a sitcom . . . but still, it was profoundly awesome to see just how close she got to my face, and I'm glad I had two witnesses that bore testament to this insanity;

2) the second Seinfeldian moment will only make sense to fans of a certain age-- Catherine and I often taped the show on VHS, because I went to Doll's Place on Thursday nights, and so on a hungover Saturday morning, we tried to watch "The Betrayal," which is also known as "the backwards episode" and I didn't rewind far enough and we started watching and it seemed like we were at the end, but it was the beginning, and I kept rewinding and fast-forwarding in spurts, not realizing that the chronology of the episode was backwards, taking note of the size of Kramer's lollipop, watching a scene, then attempting to get us in the right place . . . and, in a perfectly Seinfeldian technological twist, we ended up watching the episode in some semblance of the correct linear order, with many stops and starts, before we realized that the entire story was told in reverse . . . so then we re-watched it "properly," noting the irony and absurdity, of course, but not knowing that the Seinfeldian brand pre-9/11 irony and absurdity was on its way out, to be replaced by something darker, and the hypersensitive, super-silly tone of the '90's was about to end, and people my age (46) would yearn for this feeling for the rest of their lives (Beavis and Butthead).

The Test 61: Nicknames

Stacey brings the pain this week on The Test with her quiz on nicknames, and Cunningham and I mainly flail-- especially when we are trying to remember actual names-- but we occasionally guess the common thread, and so will you . . . so take a shot, keep score, and you'll certainly do better than us; and remember Method Man's real name is Clifford.

Throw Caution to the Wind: Don't Look Either Way

I take in pride in entering crosswalks without glancing at the oncoming vehicles-- I'm not going to deign to "ask permission" from a fuel-guzzling, carbon spewing noisy motor vehicle in order to cross the street under my own autonomously ambulatory volition, and if I get hit by a car, fuck'em . . . I'll collect my well-deserved, well-earned settlement; I'll never work again, and I'll cruise around town evoking sympathy in a brand new Jazzy . . . and now there's a study that insures that if I do get clobbered while legally crossing the street, then I'll probably receive a healthy pay-out, as it is most likely that a rich person will commit the crime . . . and I will readily admit that this is one of those studies that I'm eager to pass along because it confirms exactly what I've always believed about how wealthy people behave when they are behind the wheel of a luxury car, and perhaps when I get hit and collect, then I'll "pay it forward," buy a nice car, and hit someone else in a crosswalk and pay them a large lump sum.

Spooky Etiquette

When people at my place of work--mainly women-- are talking about contacting spirits, receiving signs from the afterlife, and decoding messages from dead relatives and deceased strangers, am I allowed to crack jokes, question their sanity, and express my very specifically skeptical feelings about ghosts and the netherworld, or do I have to pretend to believe in that stuff?

Common Kowledge?

Everyone knows that Kilgore Trout is Philip K. Dick, right?

This Is Lame

I'm too tired from Two-practice-Tuesday to think of anything creative and interesting to write, but I did write a piece (with multiple sentences!) for Gheorghe:The Blog a few days ago, so if you need a daily dose of Dave you can head over there and read "#39 on Your Roster, But #1 in Your Heart."

Dave Nearly Receives a Darwin Award (Yikes)

This event happened Friday afternoon, but I totally repressed the memory-- I told no other human about it, and it would have sunk deep into my subconscious and never surfaced again if it wasn't for a discussion in philosophy class yesterday about the flaws in our perception-- we were talking about Plato's Allegory of the Cave and how our senses often deceive us; how we all too often mistake shadows for reality . . . and while students were providing examples, I suddenly remembered my ride home from work on Friday . . . I was overheated and extremely tired and engrossed in an episode of Planet Money; driving on Ryders Lane, across from the Acme; and I saw a flashing red light on a sign, and the sign said DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS and I thought to myself: that makes sense . . . I will not stop on the tracks . . . you certainly shouldn't stop on the train tracks . . . and then I drove across the tracks, and when I crossed them I heard a loud loud horn, and this sound snapped me out of my cataleptic stupor; I looked to my right and I saw a TRAIN . . . and in a cognitive flash I understood it all: the blue and white freight train engine, the cars stopped on the other side of the road, the flashing red lights . . . and I realized that those flashing red lights weren't simply emphasizing the fact that you shouldn't stop on the train tracks, they were indicating that there was an actual train coming, and the drivers on the other side of the road had figured this out and had stopped, but I plowed right across . . . luckily, I think the engine had slowed to a crawl to assess the situation, because Ryders Lane rarely sees train traffic (and thus there was no traffic control drop arm at this crossing) or I might have been t-boned by the engine, written off as a typical idiot, and posthumously presented a Darwin Award . . . and never gotten to plead my case, which was that in my decisive moment, I thought I was obeying the signage-- the red lights reminded me not to stop on the tracks-- and while I realize this was a rather grave, boneheaded error, it is also a lesson in how heat and exhaustion and a compelling podcast can lead to a total lack of peripheral awareness.

Duct Tape + Dave = Lazy

Here are four things I recently "fixed" and/or "installed" with duct tape, instead of doing the job properly:

1) I "fixed" a rust spot on the roof of my minivan . . . I ordered the touch up kit, with the correct color paint and the sandpaper and all that, but it was so much easier to slap an "X" of duct tape over it . . . and, as a bonus, my van is duct tape gray . . . and no one is looking at the roof of my van, anyway;

2) I "installed" a motion sensing light in my closet-- the light is circular and you should put some screws into the wall and then attach the base to the screws, but I stuck it up there with rays of duct tape, making it look like a white sun with gray streams of light emanating from it;

3) I "fixed" the rubber covering of my tailgate door handle on my minivan . . . age and heat has transformed it into a decaying plasticine pulp that gets black gook all over your fingers when you apply pressure, but I covered it with a swatch of duct tape and now the decay is sealed away;

4) I "fixed" the bottom drawer of my dresser-- the dovetail corner joint came apart when I pulled it out, and what I really should have done was use some wood glue and let it set, thus adhering the dovetails back together, but I didn't have the time or energy for that, so I shoved the wood back in place, and used a few strips of duct tape on the inside of the drawer to solidify the joint . . .

stay tuned for more half-assed fix-it solutions that can be completed in under forty-five seconds with duct tape!

To Be or Not To H20

The ultimate existential dilemma is not "to be or not to be" nor is it "is the bathroom very very wet after my children shower," because those questions are binary . . . you should obviously stop whinging and do your best "to be" and yes, the bathroom is very very wet after my children shower, and so the final question-- once you've arrived at "being" in this very damp universe-- is just how premeditated the soaking of the bathroom floor is . . . because there's no fucking question that it's soaked, but do my children cascade gallons of water over the edge of the tub and onto the tile because they want the bathroom ceiling to collapse into the living room, and thus they'll have to pay for their own college, or is this some sort of inevitable physical law, that when you put and 11 year old and a 12 year old in claustrophobic space with spraying water of a certain hydraulic pressure, that a great deal of it will end up not in the tub, but on the floor . . . I'm not sure which answer I prefer, but I'm guessing that the motivation doesn't fall into a simple a dichotomy, such as "to be or not to be" and that the nightly wettening might be some combination of calculation and klutziness . . . but this might be one of the unknowable things (on par with Thomas Nagel's philosophical essay "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?") because I remember my mother chastising me for the same infraction and I can't remember how or why I sluiced so much liquid out of the tub and onto the tile.

You Probably Had to Be There (But F#$@ It)

If this sentence is a failure, then I apologize in advance, but I'm going to try to capture one of those tiny, humorous moments that makes a day at work, if not quite entertaining, at least bearable; we were all suffering through the first day of school for teachers, an endless workshop on curriculum revision and how to use the new software platforms, and I was showing Stacey my class roster on my school-issued Chromebook-- which is NOT a touchscreen-- and Stacey put her finger on the screen, to point to a former student that she really liked, and my hand was resting on the touchpad of the computer, and my brain instantly decided that the best course of action would be to make the screen move a little when she physically touched it, so then she scrolled with her finger, and I surreptitiously scrolled on the touchpad (this is easier than it sounds) and then she scrolled the other direction, and I followed suit, and for four seconds or so, she thought that I had in my possession a very special school-issued Chromebook with a dynamic touch screen, and she looked at me with a mixture of awe and jealousy, a "how-do-you-rate?" kind of look . . . and then she realized I was fucking with her and she started laughing . . . and the weird thing is, my brain decided to play this "joke" before my consciousness did . . . I just started doing it, and then I realized how funny it was . . . my finger on the touchpad instantly mimicked Stacey's finger movement on the screen and then I realized I was screwing with her perception, and even after we both knew the deal, it was still fun for her to flick the screen and watch it do what she desired . . . and soon enough all this will work fluidly and we'll control screens with our minds (but not yet, in fact, Stacey and I spent twenty-five minutes on Friday attempting to log someone out of Microsoft Outlook email-- God knows why our school adopted that platform this year-- only to determine that it's utterly impossible).

Ambiguities and Aesthetics (of Bumper Stickers)

I apologize for the tardiness of this sentence, and all I've got is more bumper sticker stuff, but, as they say, better late than never: I was driving behind an oldish Hyundai Sonata that was sporting a Hillary '16 bumper sticker, which was artfully placed over a Bernie Sanders 2016 bumper sticker; the Hillary Clinton sticker didn't completely obscure the Bernie Sanders sticker-- which was definitely an option, because the bumper stickers were the same size-- instead it was placed solidly over most of the sticker, in diagonal fashion, as if to indicate that the person was a realist and knew that the realpolitik play was to run Clinton (despite her many flaws) but there was certainly enough of the Bernie sticker left to illustrate that the Hyundai owner lamented Sanders' loss to Clinton and did not want to erase what Bernie had accomplished (he certainly moved the Clinton platform to the left) and while I applaud this person for conveying all those political opinions with two stickers, this person had a third bumper sticker (why does everyone have a third bumper sticker?) which said Stop Bigotry and this text was accompanied by a weird yellow and tan blob, and I googled this one and it turns out the weird yellow and tan blob is a stylized caricature of Donald Trump's head . . . and I'm not sure if the sticker means "Stop Being Bigoted Towards Donald Trump" and is encouraging us to just love him for the irascible racist blowhard that he is, or if it means "Stop Being a Bigot, Donald Trump," but I'm guessing this driver interpreted it as the latter and didn't even consider the former possibility.

Truly Madly Frustrating

Let me begin this rather critical review by saying that I love Liane Moriarty's precise prose, her mathematical plotting, and the fact that she hails from Australia . . . and while her new book Truly Madly Guilty is certainly intense and suspenseful and full of intriguing cast of characters carrying lots of weird and emotional intertwined baggage, the book is not much fun-- it's compelling in a I've-got-to-get-to-the-end sort of way, and that's an accomplishment in itself (and I love all the psychology of hoarding stuff) but there's not many enjoyable set pieces in this one (like the mom footrace in Big Little Lies) and the tone and diction of every chapter is framed by the dictates of the form-- in other words, the purpose of each page is to keep all the secrets obscure, the secrets at the heart of every relationship in the book and the secrets of the plot-- and this becomes rather annoying and contrived . . . I read the whole thing, because I had to, but I hope in her next novel she takes some time to breathe, and just let the story tell itself, instead of forcing it into such a convoluted box . . . and I know you're reading this, Liane-- I can call you Liane, right?-- and I just want to assure you that you're a really good sentence writer, incisive and clever and witty-- and this is coming from me . . . Dave! . . . the author of Sentence of Dave! . . . I've written MANY MANY phenomenal sentences and so a compliment from me is a real feather in your cap! and so listen to me and listen closely: in your next novel, take some time to write some funny sentences-- comedy . . . people love some comedy amidst the carnival disasters-- and develop some entertaining scenes, entertaining scenes unrestricted by the constraints of a maddeningly formulaic plot structure . . . and you can thank me in the credits (although I would prefer a dedication page).

Dave Endorses Taco Trucks on Every Corner

I'm sure diligent readers of Sentence of Dave remember my incredible 2011 Taco Count, but for those of you who don't, here's a quick synopsis: I polished off 200 tacos in one calendar year, and this inspired both my children and my students to comparable feats of gluttony . . . but just imagine how badly I could shatter my own record if Marco Gutierrez's delicious dream of American greatness were to come true and someday, in some utopian reality, there really is a "taco truck on every corner."

The Test 60: Let's Get Biblical, Biblical

Summer is over, thus it is time to go Old Testament on yo' ass . . . so tune in, keep score, learn why God was so goddamned angry back then, and if you do well on this test, then you can join Stacey and virtue signal to your heart's content . . . but even if you find Jesus boring (as Cunningham does) you don't have to worry, he's barely mentioned in this week's episode of The Test . . . we're more into vengeance and betrayal than forgiveness.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.