The Turkish Star Wars of Alternative Rock?

My experience with The Strokes is probably similar to most: I loved Is This It (both the music and the album cover--but complained that "Last Nite" was an "American Girl" rip-off) and then pretty much forgot about them (I might have listened to Room on Fire once or twice) but I was pleasantly surprised by Julian Casablancas's new album with The Voidz . . . it's the first alternative rock album I've heard in a long while that I immediately wanted to listen to all the way through again-- it's dense and weird and scattershot, a post-modern collage with the perfect tone for a guy who is never going to achieve the fame of his first album . . . Pitchfork gives the album a 6.9 and obtusely refers to it as the Turkish Star Wars version of The Strokes: "a proudly low-rent, audacious, bizarro-world transfiguration that’s equally admirable and repellent" and-- though I have not watched the Turkish Star Wars in it's entirety-- I suppose I concur.

Fragment of Dave

Sun, sand, surf, seafood, salt, etc.

Vacation Hygiene Confessions

One of the simple pleasures of a week at the shore is utilizing the outdoor shower-- I've already used ours numerous times . . . after an early morning run in the sand, after swimming in the ocean, after a game of pick-up basketball, etc. but I must confess that I haven't remembered my toiletry bag once and so the only washing I've done so far on this vacation has been with a half inch by half inch piece of soap that I found on the (algae covered) concrete floor in the aforementioned outdoor shower.

First World Problem #23,444

I've taken a perfectly good first world car (a 2008 Toyota Sienna minivan) and turned it into a vehicle that would look appropriate driving the streets of war-torn Aleppo . . . several parts of the car are taped together, it's missing a hubcap, the car possesses a multitude of dents and scratches, and now-- finally- the electric motor on the back door latch has finally gone kaput (it's been sketchy for a while) and this happened yesterday afternoon while I was starting to pack the car for our trip to Sea Isle City, which is a very involved packing job-- but I figured out how to get the back hatch open and closed, I opened a panel on the inside of the back hatch and got access to the (broken) motor, and there's a little lever you can pull in there to manually open the latch and I lassoed the lever with a shoelace, pulled the slipknot tight, and hung the lace from the ceiling of the car and now if you crawl into the back and pull up on the shoelace, it releases the latch and you can open the hatch . . . so that's how we'll roll for this vacation and then I can hopefully get that motor replaced and have a power latch again.

Dad Gives His Son Advice: Don't Be That Guy

My kids were all wound up this week, cooperating, rolling dice, painting miniatures and talking with each other in some arcane language . . . they were preparing to attend Dungeons and Dragon night at Comic Sanctuary in New Brunswick-- which happens on Thursdays from 7 PM to 10 PM and the shop is conveniently near the hipster bar and restaurant Inc, which has all day happy hour on Thursdays and makes the best whiskey sour in the area-- so a win/win for the entire family . . . the kids would play D&D and all the adults would drink cocktails and eat yucca fries and steamed buns; before we left for the night, I noticed that Alex was wearing his Dungeons & Dragons t-shirt and I told him he could not wear a D&D shirt to a D&D event . . . I told him not to be the guy wearing a Radiohead shirt at a Radiohead concert . . . you could wear a Radiohead t-shirt to a Gorillaz concert, or vice-versa and I told him you could probably even get away with wearing a Lord of the Rings shirt to a D&D event, but you can't go right on the nose, that's ridiculous . . . and Ian asked me if this were a law and I told him not exactly but close and Alex actually followed my advice and changed his shirt but then he said that his friend Max did wear a D&D t-shirt and the dungeon master complimented him . . . but I said he was just humoring him (or possibly so nerdy that he was unaware of this near law that you don't wear the thing to the thing) and the important thing is that the kids had a great time playing with all these college kids, who were welcoming and really into the game (and I didn't see the crowd, but my wife did-- they were in a group of 13 at one table and there was another table with 9 people and my wife reported that these people looked and behaved exactly as you would expect a group of people who still play Dungeons and Dragons in college and beyond to look and behave, so that's awesome as well).

Lebron James: Crucified For All Our (Basketball Viewing) Sins

Planet Money 427: LeBron James is Still Underpaid makes a strong economic case that James doesn't make nearly what he's worth-- he's underpaid for his talent, he's underpaid for his effect on ticket sales and TV revenue for whatever team he plays for, and he deserves money for his global effect on the league-- but the owners and the players like it that way . . . LeBron suffers so they can all prosper (and LeBron himself might like it that way as well, because without the odd profit sharing, parity generating practices of the league, he might have nowhere to showcase his talents) and while I recommend listening to this entire podcast, if you just want a quick laugh, go six and a half minutes in and listen to the description of the NBA draft and just how strange it really is . . . imagine if "the best software engineer at MIT," a guy who could go to Silicon Valley and make millions with Google, had to throw his name into a pool and then be selected by one of the worst companies in the country, to work for a prescribed salary, and one day got a letter in the mail saying he was assigned to the IT department at Best Buy.

Republicans Should Start Surfing

After some very sketchy research and a few stereotypical assumptions that are probably statistically true (conservatives ride motorcycles, liberals ride bikes; conservatives hunt, liberals surf) I've determined that if you're a conservative then you are way more likely to die doing a leisure activity-- 33 skiers died last year, but only 12 snowboarders; there were 55 cycling deaths as compared to a whopping 5000 motorcycle deaths; 80 hunting deaths but zero soccer and tennis deaths (soccer and tennis seem to be sports that skew the most towards Democrats) and 200 people die each year angling while surfing deaths are extraordinarily rare.


Lady in Red

I am in an awful relationship with the hot sauce from Taco House, our new favorite hole-in-the-wall authentic taqueria in New Brunswick-- when you get tacos to go, they give you a couple sauce containers of green salsa, which is zesty and just a little bit spicy, you can use as much of it as you want on your tacos and they also give you a couple containers of the red sauce, and a couple containers of this stuff is overkill because you can't use very much of it, as it is very, very hot (but also very very tasty) and so once the tacos are done, there is still plenty of red sauce, which I always place carefully in the refrigerator so I can consume it later . . . and then my wife and kids watch me eat the red sauce in various amounts for the next few days and these endeavors always end in tears-- I'm crying, my kids are yelling at me to stop eating the sauce, and my wife just shakes her head in bewilderment-- and then last night, after dipping chips in the sauce while we watched an especially stressful episode of Better Call Saul, my stomach gave out and I threw the sauce away (after Alex ate some . . . he's an idiot too, but he drank some milk-- yuck!-- and it assuaged the pain) and I'm still suffering the consequences of the sauce this morning, but if it were still in the fridge, I would pour some on my eggs . . . this is one of those reciprocally abusive relationships where the only answer is a clean break, the next time I get tacos from Taco House, I'm going to have to refuse the red sauce.

The Test 111: This Is Your "Go To" Test



This week on The Test, Cunningham investigates how Stacey and I exude so much charm and charisma, and we reveal our "go to" moves to avoid socially awkward situations . . . and we imagine what it would be like if I had cancer of the eyes.

Book Review and Team Name Suggestion All Wrapped Up in One Sentence

Florida, Lauren Groff's collection of geographically related short stories, plunges you into the all the dangers the state has to offer: hurricanes and sinkholes and floods; camping gone bad, rural abandonment, homelessness; then there are the creepy-crawlies: panthers, bugs, gators, and loads and loads of snakes-- coral snakes and moccasins and black snakes, the book is literally crawling with snakes-- the time-periods and narrators are various and the writing is surreal and vivid and it's a crying shame that there is no minor league baseball team in the Sunshine State named The Florida Sinkholes (I especially like the Sarasota Sinkholes).

What?

We drove home from Cape Cod today and we are (ironically) enjoying the cool weather, low humidity, and much lighter traffic here in Jersey.

Serena Wins, Mesomorphs Rejoice

There's a tennis court on the premises where we are staying on the Cape, and I've been playing a lot of tennis with my kids-- several times a day; my knee hurts, my right shoulder hurts, my back hurts, and the only proper analgesic when you're on vacation is beer . . . but after watching both Venus and Serena play this morning, I was inspired and ready to get back out there; I was especially motivated by Serena because-- now that she's had a kid-- she's got nearly the same build as me: she's my height, she's got the Kirby Puckett core, and she's got short arms, unlike her sister Venus, who is long and rangy (my older son is built like me and hits the ball with the same compact stroke, my younger son is skinny and lanky and hits a two-handed backhand with a languid limber stroke that makes both Alex and I very jealous) but then I watch Serena and realize you don't need a long and tall build to play tennis-- her short powerful stroke absolutely murders the ball, and I've been modelling my serve off of her form-- no hitches, very few moving parts, chopper grip, bring it back slow and get into position and then hammer through the ball and when Ian and I went out this afternoon to whack it around after Serena's victory over the slender and lithe Kristina Mladenovic, I hit a couple serves in her honor and I'm proud to say I drilled them, even my son Ian was impressed . . . so thanks Serena, because we can't all look like Ivan Lendl and Maria Sharapova.

Smart Phone, Smart Kids, Slow Dad

I'm not sure if this is a generational thing or if my son Alex is impulsive and rude, but whenever I'm screwing something up with my phone, he grabs it from me and fixes it instead of using his words and communicating to me how I can fix it myself.

We Try To Be an Out-To-Breakfast Family

Perhaps because of the enormous vacuum in my life due to lack of World Cup games until Friday, or perhaps because we like to humor mom once a year . . . whatever the reason, we decided to go out to breakfast this morning-- and we are not an out-to-breakfast-family . . . you know this kind of family, jovial, chubby and good-natured, drinking orange juice while waiting for their pancakes kind of people . . . every once in a while Catherine decides we should be that family and go out to breakfast and it never works out-- this morning Ian and I played tennis and it was hot and he took a game from me again (it's getting frustrating) and then we jumped in the pool and then we decided to bike to the Hangar B Eatery, a critically acclaimed hipster breakfast joint located at the Chatham Airport-- we started biking at 9:30 AM, made out way down the Chatham Rail Trail spur and get to the place at 10 AM and it was small and packed-- we thought everyone would be at the parade but that was not the case-- and we were hungry . . . which is one of the reasons we're not an out-to-breakfast family, as the boys and I get really hangry, but we decided to endure the 35-minute wait and we killed some time listening to a pilot tell us about the biplane and the biplane tours (apparently, this biplane is built from the 1930 specs-- though some of the materials are modernized-- but it's still impressive that some guys in 1930 designed something as complicated as an airplane that well) and we saw a helicopter take off and then we were seated and I think they lost our ticket or got slammed or something because it took a good forty minutes for us to get our food and it was hot inside-- they did give us a free donut and apologized-- but we didn't get our food until after 11 AM and I was really proud of myself and the boys, no one complained and we all endured the wait stoically, despite our hangry status . . . and I thought the food-- when it finally came-- was quite good, but Catherine didn't love her meal and I doubt she'll try to get us to go out to breakfast for a long time.

Check Your Head

Many years ago, I recognized that adult snowboarders were all wearing helmets and so I bought a helmet-- I'm not sure why adult snowboarders didn't wear helmets before this tipping point, but once I saw other people wearing them, it made sense to make the switch; now I'm seeing adult recreational cyclists wearing helmets-- not mountain bikers or serious road bikers, but just regular folks going for a leisurely ride on the rail trail (my wife is included in this group, she says she wants to set a good example for our children) but I am not succumbing to this fad . . . my brain just isn't that valuable.

Random Vacation Notes, Cape Cod 2018 Edition

We've only been up at the Cape since Saturday, but I've already got quite a few thoughts:

1) after an early morning bike ride on Sunday, I walked into the wrong unit-- we're number 28 but I entered number 29 (despite the fact that they have a totally different entrance and door) but I beat a hasty and undetected retreat when I noticed the sneakers in the foyer were the wrong colors . . . this made me remember an incident we witnessed on Saturday morning, we were stuck in standstill traffic just before the mess of an intersection that leads to the Bourne Bridge and a car stopped on the other side of the road and beeped and a guy-- correction, a dude . . . this was definitely a twenty-something bearded sloppy dude-- this dude ran out of the ramshackle house just to the right of our car and darted through the traffic and got into the car on the other side of the road-- he was catching a ride, either from a friend or Uber, and the traffic around his house was severe, and so he ran out of the house so quickly that he didn't notice that the front door caught on the rug and bounced wide open . . . so we were laughing at the fact that the guy didn't notice he left his door wide open and drove away into the traffic and then the plot thickened; another dude wandered out of the wide-open door-- and this dude was definitely not in the same room as the other dude (this house looked like some kind of filthy crash pad) and this second dude was really offended by the wide open front door, he was like: what? who just dared to open our door? I will fuck up whoever opened this door! and he was looking all around for the perpetrator but couldn't find anyone and then he slammed the door shut and it caught on the rug and popped open again and he had this great look of epiphany on his face, and then the traffic started moving and we dove off, properly entertained despite the jam;

2) though in the old days we were stuck drinking Golden Anniversary Light, Massachusetts now has a bewildering array of craft beers and so I used my phone in the beer store and decided on Night Shift Brewing Whirlpool American Pale Ale and it's delicious;

3) The Great Island Trail is a real winner at dead low tide: after a quick walk through the woods and over the dunes, it's all sandbars and tidal pools, and the water is the perfect temperature-- a mix of the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay . . . you can see Provincetown to the north; we spent three hours out there, my kids netting sea life and watching hermit crabs fight over a snail, and I brought back some nice rocks for my yard;

4) if you're 48  years old and you eat donuts for breakfast, and fried fish, raw oysters, and onion rings from Arnold's for lunch, then your stomach is going to hurt (but, on the bright side, Alex ate a couple of raw oysters and loved them)

5) I have officially gotten my money's worth out of my Sevylor Samoa Inflatable Paddleboard . . . I paddled it up the Oyster River this morning and it still works-- I'm not sure when I bought it but I found a post about it from 2011;

6) the fact that it's unbearably hot in New Jersey this week makes me appreciate the weather here that much more-- it's been in the high 70s-- and the Cape Cod weather-people keep warning folks of the humidity, but I'm like: what humidity?

The Challenge of the Changeling

I don't read much challenging non-fiction these days-- back in my twenties, I remember tackling Gravity's Rainbow (with a reader's guide) and reading Joyce's Ulysses and the Odyssey simultaneously, in hopes of unlocking the symbolism, and stumbling through the gargantuan meta-fictional works of John Barth-- but these days, I generally read challenging non-fiction, which means the substance is more difficult to comprehend than the style . . . a recent exception is The Changeling, by Joy Williams; the book was out of print for a long time, probably because of it's perverse, stylistic insanity, but after 40 years, it has been reprinted and if you're looking for something strange and surreal and unpredictable, with sentences that will stun you into hypnotic submission, give this book a try . . . you will certainly start to think that, "No one who has private thoughts going on in his own head is quite sure of their not being overheard" and you will think these thoughts and so will the children, and the children from Lord of the Flies will pale and wither in the shadows of these half-human juvenile/half-mythical beasts, that slowly start to subsume the fallen adults on their island, only Pearl, the naive dipsomaniac, straddles the adult world and "the secret society of childhood from which banishment was the beginning of death" and she does it partly by being oblivious and partly by being numbingly drunk, which turns out to be the only way to survive this cryptic, corrupt journey.

First World Problem # 745

We were on the road this morning before 5 AM (4:54 AM to be precise) but we still hit standstill traffic at the Bourne Bridge.

Open Sesame, Mind

Two podcasts that opened my mind and altered my thoughts on political issues:

1) The Daily: Justice Kennedy's Last Decison . . . I assumed that the 5-4 vote in Janus vs. Federation of State, a case years in the making by conservative lobbying groups and their wealthy donors, we a real blow to workers-- as now people who enjoy the benefits of collective bargaining by their union do not necessarily have to pay the fees associated with these costs-- if you don't join the union, you don't have to pay anything to them, even if they are doing services for you-- but maybe not being able to automatically collect dues will end some union complacency and make the unions cater to what the workers want-- or else there will be "wildcat" strikes (such a great term, teachers bucked the union in West Virginia and went on a wildcat strike) so perhaps greater transparency in union fees and membership will galvanize supporters and lead to a better deal for workers;

2) This American Life: It's My Party and I'll Try If I Want To . . . I used to think single payer healthcare-- Medicare for All-- was impractical and impossible, a figment of Bernie Sanders' imagination, and that no real politicians were considering this . . . but I might be a victim of a political system captured by wealthy donors and their benefactors; this podcast tells the story of Jeff Beals, a progressive Democrat trying to win New York's congressional district 19; Beals has visions of trying to fix a rigged economy and truly believes that Medicare for All is an achievable goal . . . but the wealthy donors would rather he talk about LGBT rights and gun control and abortion and stay away from the economy . . . the donors who control who runs and how much money they get tend to be moderate and pro-business, and this is causing a rift in the Democratic Party . . . you can't change won't you don't discuss and that very well might be why Clinton, who outspent Trump, lost to him-- instead of making speeches to Goldman, she should have addressed the elephant in the room.

Dramaturgy How To, Ready Break!



The film Ladybird is sweet and touching and funny and true (and apparently quite emotional if you're a woman and you were mean to your mom when you were a teenager) but the thing I'll take away from the film is this scene, which is exactly how I will teach blocking in Shakespeare class for the rest of my career.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.