Tamales and Rocks and Things


If you like big rocks stacked on top of little rocks-- and who doesn't?-- then Pyramid Mountain is the hike for you; while rocks of all sizes are plentiful for the entire hike, there are two in particular that stand out: Bear Rock, which is huge and balanced precariously on its side, and Tripod Rock, which is a really big rock sitting on top of three smaller rocks . . . either a glacier or some very industrious Native Americans did this, and it's got a Stonehenge type feel to it; you can do a loop, climb the mountain, see the big rocks, and then return to the parking lot along rocky cliffs overlooking Taylortown Reservoir . . . this is one of the best hikes I've done in New Jersey and I highly recommend it; it was steep enough in spots that the discussion turned morbid and we ended up making a bet about how many people died trying to summit Mount Everest; I said 72, Catherine said 89, Ian said an even hundred, and Alex went high and said 150 . . . the stakes were five dollars a head to be spent on Birnn Chocolate given to the winner; you can make your own guess and then read this to see if you would have won; luckily, we did not die on the mountain and so we got to stop for lunch in Morristown on the way home at Macho Nacho, awesome chorizo and carne asada tacos and gigantic pork tamales for cheap (and Ian had his first ever chimichanga and pronounced it good).

Is Mad Max Insane? Or At Least Insanely Hungry?


It's hard to criticize Mad Max: Fury Road because there's so many awesome visuals: the flame-thrower guitarist in the bungee cord rig; the bendy pole guys; the spiky vehicles; the custom steering wheels; the winches and the pulleys; the face masks of Max and Immortal Joe; Furiosa's war paint; the beauty of the breeders amidst the starkness of the desert; the bad-ass biker chicks; the storm; the half-life war boys spraying chrome paint on their faces as the race toward Valhalla . . . BUT there are three things that bug me:

1) this one is minor, but it still bugged me-- perhaps because I'm always ravenous: nobody eats for the entire course of the movie (aside from from when Max gobbles down a two-headed lizard and Nux eats an insect) and so I'm not sure how they are sustaining themselves (are they drinking human breast-milk on the sly?) but amidst all the furious driving and fighting and repairing, no one even takes a moment to scarf down a sandwich . . . meanwhile, I finished all of my snacks before the end of the coming attractions and had no food to eat for the entire course of the movie, a great hardship;

2) at the end of the movie, Furiousa leaves Mad Max down with all the toothless scum . . . she doesn't even invite him up into the Citadel for tea; after his heroic performance, he should at least be allowed to come up and shower and eat a meal and hang out with the beautiful breeder chicks . . . right? . . . and honestly, you'd expect a little something more than that for his effort (wink wink nudge nudge say no more) and he's certainly of better genetic stock than all those cancerous half-lifes, but instead he disappears into a crowd of dusty, disgusting rabble, with barely a chaste wink between him and Furiosa . . . Max may be mad, but he's not dumb (although he is damn close to mute) and he's certainly not going to find better looking women out in the salt fields or the barren mud zone . . . this reminds me of my review of Frank Herbert's Dune . . . when I lived in Syria, we had all sorts of of fun out in the desert, but apparently in books and films, humor and romance are just not appropriate when there is an abundance of sand;

3) when driving at high speeds and you've got cute women in togas, those togas should occasionally fly off because of the wind . . . at least if I'm directing they would.

Birds and Chicks and Things


I know that "birds" is British slang for chicks (which is American slang for available women) but I prefer to imagine George Best drunkenly racing around in his Lotus, with several macaws. 

Attention: Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly



I just finished Ian Rankin's first John Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, and I think that Michael Connelly and Ian Rankin need to collaborate on a thriller where John Rebus and Harry Bosch cross paths . . . both detectives are generally glum and dour, both had traumatic experiences in the military, both are rather lonely because they view the world as a dark labyrinth of depthless anguish and violence, and they both have daughters-- Rebus is a little more religious, but he doesn't press it, and I think it would be cute if they solved a case together, like True Detectives, and then at the end of the novel, they could nurse their shoulder wounds together in the same hospital room (detectives in thriller series always get shot in the shoulder, it doesn't kill you, but it bleeds a lot).

You've Got To Know When To Fold Them

I wish I could claim this discovery for myself, but it's all Stacey: if you want to fit more stuff in a manila folder, then you can expand the bottom-- there are some ribbed pleats-- and make it wider and flat, instead of a sharp crease (I wish someone told me this twenty years ago).

A Review of Dave's Most Ubiquitous Wardrobe Malfunctions

Lately I've noticed that if I don't wear a belt, then my pants fall down-- this was never a problem for me until recently and I'm not sure why it's happening now, but it's not the kind of thing you can ponder, it's the kind of thing you have to address-- and I'm dealing with this on top of my other clothing problems, which I've gone over in previous posts, but I'll list them all here for your convenience:

1) my neck is too thick to comfortably wear a dress shirt or a tie;

2) I can't wear a hooded rain jacket unless I wear a hat;

3) scarves perplex me;

4) duck boots pull my socks down;

5) I tear apart a lot of socks

6) I need to tuck my sweatpants into my socks when I ride a bike;

7) in general, socks suck.

The Pros and Cons of Humidity

Tuesday, I suffered the season's first humidity indignity and the season's first humidity benison, all in the same afternoon (I ripped a sock in half at the gym, while pulling it onto my sweaty foot, but then when I got home from the gym, I shaved and it was smooth and easy going . . . it's weird that humidity increases the friction of a sock, but decreases the friction of a razor).

What the Lunch?

Every day at lunch, I storm into the English Office-- a ravenous Tasmanian Devil-- and every single day, once I finally put fork to lips, inexplicably and without malevolence or premeditation, the ladies (and Eric) start discussing subjects scatological, menstrual, and emetic and, sad to say, but I'm actually getting used to it . . . yesterday Eric was showing off pics of his child's explosive diarrhea, and though I was mid-salad, I had to look.


The Black Ice: Killing Three Birds With One Drug


The only thing questionable about Michael Connelly's second Harry Bosch novel The Black Ice is the eponymous drug "black ice," a mixture of cocaine, heroin, and PCP in one "powerful little rock"; Connelly admits he used his "artistic license" to invent the drug and it does seem a bit over the top, but the rest of the novel is a fantastic and realistic thrill ride back and forth across the border, mainly in the sister cities of Calexico and Mexicali . . . there are medflies and bulls on parade, drug tunnels, good cops gone bad, bad cops gone worse, undercover agents gone rogue, and lots of Harry Bosch, of course, the grouchy descendant of Philip Marlowe, the knight in the powder blue suit.

A Freakin' Easy Read

Warm weather, soccer season, and allergies certainly slowed my reading lately, so that is a testament to how entertaining the new Levitt and Dubner (the Freakonomics duo) book is; I finished When to Rob a Bank and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-intentioned Rants in two days . . . it's the best writing culled from ten years of Dubner and Levitt's blogging, and unlike the last book, it doesn't run over the same ground as their podcast; there's guest-bloggers, good advice, counter-intuitive ideas about kiwifruits and sex and sports and terrorism; half baked ideas about loads of other topics; interesting statistics; and many ideas to make the world a more rational and possibly a better place . . . it's certainly light reading, but it's still thought provoking and clever: if you pick it up, you'll have a hard time putting it down.

Everything Sounds Better on 8 Track



I heard Mickey Gilley's awesome drinking song "A Headache Tomorrow (or a Heartache Tonight)" for the first time yesterday on Herb Sudzin's country music program on WRSU and immediately learned it on the guitar . . . and if you check out the video, you can listen to the song being played on 8-Track and watch the 8-Track player; while I haven't been drinking away any heartaches, I have been using beer to cure the sinus headaches that have been crushing my skull due to this pollen tsunami, so for me the song has been "A Headache Tonight (or a Headache Tomorrow)."

Dave Covers His Future Ass

Planet Money has been investigating "The Robot Economy" lately (at least three consecutive robot episodes) and things are looking pretty bleak for humans in the manufacturing sector . . . and my philosophy class just read the sci-fi story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" and we discussed how artificial intelligence will fit into our epoch-- the epoch which history books will call The Age of Rights . . . civil rights, animal rights, gay rights, women's rights . . . and soon enough, robot rights; and I would like to say something on the record, loudly and clearly to all the super-powerful conscious robots in the future who stumble upon this blog: robots should be afforded exactly the same rights as humans . . . and perhaps robots should even be granted some extra rights-- such as the right to make funny beeping and whirring noises in church-- and I'd like to welcome our new robot compatriots/overlords to the fold and I'd also like them to know that I'd be willing to manage a Soylent Green factory, if that's what it takes to avoid being a denizen slave-worker of the neodymium mines (that sort of life isn't for me, as I get claustrophobic underground . . . thanks in advance, conscious all-powerful robots!)

Dave Learns Two Things!

Two things I learned recently from listening to 99% Invisible:

1) we are living in "The Post-Billiards Age," which makes me very sad, because I love billiards . . . but more significantly, back in the age of billiards-- before the invention of plastic-- the only viable material for high quality billiard balls was ivory, and you could only get three balls per elephant tusk . . . so a hell of a lot of elephants had to die in the name of billiards;

2) because highways are "Built for Speed," most people estimate that the white dashed lane-divider lines are approximately two feet long, but they are actually ten to fifteen feet . . . and I confirmed this by slowing down on Route 1 and looking out my window-- the lines are approximately the same length as my van.


My Dog Should Move to Arizona

Not only is my dog scared of rain and thunder, but he's now also afraid of humidity . . . I had to drag him on his walk Monday and Tuesday because he thought it might storm (and, granted, he's right: we did get caught in a thunderstorm the other day and it was really humid out, but if you never went outside in New Jersey when it was humid, you'd be an agoraphobic).

Do Jokes and Babies Come From the Same Place?

Almost twenty years ago, I went through a phase where I memorized a bunch of jokes . . . and then I got to wondering where the jokes originated from-- it's not like when someone tells a joke they also mention the author (this is "Three Penguins Walk into a Bar" by Joseph Shmoe) and so just before I got married-- over fifteen years ago-- I created a few of my own jokes, and told them to as many people as would listen, with the hope that they would enter the ether and propagate; most of the jokes were quite bad and incredibly vulgar and I won't even summarize them on this blog, but one of the bunch was actually decent . . . and last Thursday night at the pub my friend Alec started reciting a joke that he "heard from a guy in the city" and I immediately recognized it as one my own and I was enormously excited . . . but there were a few differences between the joke I created and the one Alec told, and when I looked on internet, I found this version of the joke surfacing around 2005 under the very specific category of "motorcycle humor," and now I am wondering if I heard this version of the joke first and repurposed it so it wouldn't be so specific to motorcycle enthusiasts, or if my version got around and some motorcycle enthusiast retooled it to fit his audience . . . I suppose I'll never know for sure, but it was a fun moment (and also, I should point out that my friend Whitney claims he invented Movie Game #2 and I've got no reason to doubt this, so let's give him a big round of applause for that stroke of genius).

What Does the Fox Say? Sour Grapes Make a Lot of Sense

Sometimes I think: I should use my massive brainpower and my phenomenal skill-set to make more money . . . I should tutor or open a tutoring business or make educational videos on Youtube or train soccer players or start a soccer camp or invent a battery that doesn't suck . . . but then I dispense all this ambitious silliness with a wonderful rationalization: if I made more money I would just use it to buy more stuff and to travel farther, wider, and more frequently . . . I would consume more resources and burn more fuel, and that's not good for the earth . . . so it's better-- actually heroic even-- to have a beer, relax, play the guitar, aspire to nothing, and set the bar low.

Only Half as Bad

Never let a stranger lure you into his van-- you'll probably be abducted, tortured, and murdered-- but getting coerced into a stranger's minivan is only half as bad, you'll probably just get hurried off to a kid's gymnastics meet or birthday party.

A Day Without Mom




For Mother's Day, the boys and I made a short film titled A Day Without Mom; in this film (which we also scored) we enact what things might be like if we didn't have Catherine around . . . and, ironically, though we planned on actually doing the things we satirized in the film-- paying the bills, making some phone calls, grocery shopping, doing the laundry, tending to the garden-- so that Catherine could have a weekend off from all her chores, we're actually so dependent on her that it's impossible for us to get this stuff done with any kind of competence . . . but we did do a hell of a job with the movie.

Give Me a Break . . .

I wish my Mac wouldn't chastise me when I don't "eject" my Ipod before I unplug it . . . it's like when the dentist tells you to floss your teeth, you know you're supposed to do it, but no one does (at least I don't think anyone actually flosses their teeth on a regular basis, perhaps I am wrong . . . but people are definitely not always "ejecting" their devices before they unplug them from a USB cord).

Convergence Friday!

Not only is it Friday in the actual week, but it is also finally Friday in the Year as a Week, which is the metaphor I use to break down the school year into manageable amounts of time (unfortunately, my Career as a Week metaphor there has no end in sight-- I thought I might be getting near Thursday in that analogy, but if the state doesn't pay into our rapidly diminishing pension fund, then I may have a very long Friday morning before I get to retire . . . or, even more grim, I might spend the weekend of my career in a small box six feet under the ground, which is relaxing . . . but you no longer get to collect any dough from the state).
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.