The Greatest Thing Since Racism?

Maybe you love white bread or maybe you hate it, but either way, you're making a statement . . . and if you need some help deconstructing exactly what that statement is, then you need to listen to the latest episode of 99% Invisible "Good Bread" . . . because white bread and brown bread have been around for thousands of years, and for thousands of years your choice of bread has had a subtext to it.

Coaching Question

How does one motivate a fantasy football player?

The Manfridge is Compromised

We have an extra refrigerator in the basement, which I have populated with craft beers and home-pickled delicacies; these things go perfect together: hoppy high-alcohol beers and hot peppers, radishes, red onions and beets in salty brine . . . manly stuff, to be sure, but last week my wife went to Buy-Rite and came home with blueberry ale and raspberry "smash" cider and now my fridge has a totally different feel . . . and I can only imagine the dirty things going on in there in the dark now that the shelves are co-ed, and I assume I'm going to find some baby beers (8 oz nips?) on the bottom shelf in a few months (or days, what is the gestation cycle for beer?)

Snowpiercer! The Greatest Something Ever!


Okay, I agree that it might have been hyperbole when I claimed-- half way through the film--that Snowpiercer is the greatest movie in the history of cinema, but now that I've had some time to reflect, I will make this claim . . . and I dare you to dispute it: Snowpiercer is the greatest post-apocalyptic/class commentary/ultra-violent/revolutionary/metaphorical-allegorical on-a-train movie ever made (by a huge margin!)

I Might Remember This

So Stacey rushes into the office and proclaims it's the best day of her life and then she pulls an essay anthology out of a bag, and slams a boxed set of leather-bound classics (Dracula, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc) onto the table and then she goes into a long-winded and detailed account of how it's teacher appreciation week at Barnes and Nobles and how she got so many discounts because how she got the box of leather-bound books for next to nothing (two dollars? I can't remember) and I realized that this was some kind of woman thing -- "saving" money when you've actually spent money -- and I insisted that the books she bought weren't actually real books, they were prop books, and to prove this I read from each of them in a pompous British accent, and then I threw my apple at the trash and missed, and when I retrieved it, Stacey dared me to throw it at a helium balloon floating above the computer, and I took her up on the dare (and nailed the balloon from all the way across the room, a spectacular shot I might add, if I were a prick . . . which, apparently I am) and unfortunately the apple was a little mealy and it exploded all over the place when it hit the balloon and so I had to get down on the floor and clean up the apple shards and I'm recounting all this not because it's particularly profound, but because most off periods in the English office are uneventful and not memorable at all; aside from this one particularly weird off-period, I 'd have trouble discerning between any of the other ones from this year . . . and this is the theme of the first episode of a fantastic This American Life spin-off podcast-- how hard it is to remember a particular moment in any day of your life-- the podcast is called Serial, and I highly recommend it: a reporter revisits the alleged 1999 murder of a high school student and finds holes in the case (and if you know what happens, please don't spoil it, because I'm right in the middle of this thing and I love it).


Gimme Shelter (and Robots)


It took me a while (and my book reading rate has been pretty lame through soccer season) but I finished Susan Palwick's sprawling sci-fi novel Shelter; while it's got plenty of entertaining sci-fi tropes: AI, robots, brainwiping, compassion as a crime, and a strange virus, I should warn you, besides all the futuristic stuff-- which is engagingly imagined-- the book also contains a bunch of feelings and emotions, artificial and otherwise.

Sad News: Dave Has No Fashion Sense

The death of Oscar de la Renta caused quite a hubbub in the main office Tuesday morning; everyone was lamenting his passing . . . and I was quite shook up as well, mainly because I didn't even know he existed, and then-- quite suddenly-- he was dead.




Dave Creates Post-Modern Art

I took the manual for the new paper-cutter and cut it in half (with the new paper-cutter) and then placed the two halves of the manual on the bed of the paper-cutter, in an aesthetic tableau which signified that not only did I know how to use the paper-cutter, but that I also realized the irony of using my paper-cutting skills to cut the manual of how to use the paper-cutter . . . and many people enjoyed the "meta" aspect of my post-modern tableau . . . the only way to improve it would be to leave a couple of faux-severed fingers on the bed as well, the blood dripping unto the slashed manual (and also, something fun: some people get really nervous when you do "paper cutter humor," such as sticking your head under the blade and looking carefully at something on the bed or pretending to cut a piece of paper while holding your hand directly under the blade . . . if I were a prop comic like my hero Carrot Top, I would incorporate a paper-cutter into my act).

TGIFU

Not that I would ever question our school's administration, but last Friday may have been a little more intense than it needed to be; first, we had an unannounced emergency lockdown drill-- which happened during passing time, so kids had to bunker down in the nearest room-- some teachers and students were quite scared (but not me, because I figured if anything was actually going on, everyone would be receiving a flood of text messages, and no one was)-- and then later in the day, a number of life-sized wooden red silhouettes appeared in the main atrium . . . these are for Violence Awareness Week, and each silhouette has some horrific story attached to it, generally involving murder, vengeance and dismemberment . . . have a nice weekend!

An Open(ly Angry) Letter

Dear Coaches of the Livingston Legion U-10 Soccer Team,

one of my many faults is that it takes me far to long to recognize when people are being rude and obnoxious, and so when I do realize it, I get very angry because my emotions have been simmering for too long . . . so at the start of our U-10 soccer game last Sunday, when you accused our team of having a player older than our age bracket, I laughed it off, and told you "that's what the cards are for" but you kept pressing (and I later learned the referee should have taken charge here because the player cards are the official documents certifying the players) and since I was trying to put my players into positions, I directed your allegations to our team manager-- who you totally stressed out so that she went home and got the copies of our players' birth certificates-- and then you still said "you're telling me that kid is ten" and she said "I'm not telling you anything, this is his birth certificate" and meanwhile, what I should have done is direct the coaches to the kid's father-- who is one of my assistant coaches, so that you could have accused him to his face of forging documents in order to have a kid play in a younger age group on a low level travel soccer team-- an insane accusation-- but I wasn't thinking on my feet because I was trying to coach a bunch of nine year olds . . . and then we found out that despite your allegations, your team was far more skilled than ours (and you had a goalie bigger than our biggest kid, and your goalie played four quarters) and when you realized that I subbed my kids in and out equally, not necessarily based on size and speed-- then the two of you shut your mouths on the age issue and stopped yelling at us and started yelling at your own players (and my players for "distracting" your players when my subs were passing a ball around behind the bench) and-- even though you were better-- we played hard and the game was tied 0-0 with two minutes remaining when one of your bigger, older looking players popped a goal over my goalie's head (the fourth goalie I played, and while he's excellent, he's also the shortest . . . because I have a lot of kids who love to play goalie and I let them all do it-- whatever size they are, because they're all going to grow and they all need the experience) and when your team scored, the two of you screamed, jumped up and down, and hugged each other . . . over a nine year old kicking a ball in a goal . . . all the things I try to avoid on the sideline, and so after the game, once I realized just how pathetic and obnoxious you guys actually were, which took far too long, I told you "that you were everything that is wrong with youth sports in America and that it's a pathetic sight to see too grown men hugging when a child scores a goal in a U-10 soccer game" and you guys retorted that one of my players said something during a PK and that should have been "a red card" and while I told you that I admonished my players for doing that, it's not explicitly against the rules (and I believe one of my players said "turkey legs" while their player was taking the kick-- this is what I heard through the nine year old grapevine-- but the ref said he didn't hear anything) and so I'd like to thank you for turning what was supposed to be a relaxing and fun Sunday home game, with all the the parents out to watch their kids run around, into a stressful and horrible afternoon,

indignantly yours,

Coach Dave.





Me? A Seat Stealer?

It's always interesting (and sometimes disturbing) when you get an outside perspective on your personality: last week in the English Office, my friend Stacey stole my seat-- I put down my lunch and went over to the microwave and when I got back, she was sitting where I put my stuff-- and I was in hungry mode, so I said a few choice words to her and she laughed and said back "Now you know how it feels" and I said "What? Do I steal seats? Am I a seat stealer?" and she said "Every day" and I reflected and realized that this might be true . . . and so now I have revised my idea of what people think when I enter the office; I used to think that when I walked in, the collective consciousness was something like this: Dave is here! Let the fun will begin! Everything that happened previous to Dave's entrance has been completely insignificant and rather boring but now things will get interesting! but now I know what people are actually thinking: Goddammit, Dave is here . . . I'd better not get out of my seat or he's going to steal it.

Processing: 21st Century/19th Century Juxtaposition

The new Aphex Twin album Syro is good music to pickle to (if you like that sort of thing).

Barely a Script, But a Bear of a Movie


I am a lucky man-- when things get rough in my life, I can always count on my family . . . but sometimes I wonder if my family is an extension of my own consciousness and perspective on the world . . . sometimes I wonder if my family sees the world the same way I see it; I was looking for a movie to show to my Creative Writing classes, a film that told a story with very little dialogue and an abundance of imagery, and my colleagues and the internet led me down the usual paths -- Wall - E, 2001, Castaway, etc.-- but I wanted to show something that the kids had never seen before, and I stumbled upon a French film called The Bear . . . a movie about a young bear who has to survive in the wild after his mother has been killed by an avalanche . . . and while my wife and children loved this movie . . . despite the blood, the mating scene, and the psychedelia (the baby bear ingests hallucinogenic mushrooms and "trips" and-- besides this-- he also has a number of weird and expressionistic dreams) and despite the lack of dialogue (my son Alex aptly summed up the script: "it could fit on half a page of paper") we had a fantastic time watching this thing, we speculated on how they filmed it, we enjoyed the aesthetic beauty of the bears, and we were appropriately moved by the plot . . . and so I thought I knew what to expect when I showed it in class, but there was a much wider variety of reactions from my high school students than I anticipated: some loved it, some were disturbed by the drama and the realism, some couldn't understand the fact that it was a movie -- that the bears were acting and that no one was shot or hurt or nearly drowned . . . that every scene was set up and that the emotional impact of the bears' body language was an artistic conceit, probably created more in the mind of the audience than by the emotional state of the bears . . . and while I highly recommend this movie, both for adults and children, I must warn you that you will sound like a lunatic when you describe it, because you will delve into the details of how well these bears can act-- how they can feign an injury and pretend to catch a frog and show sadness and regret-- and so no one will listen to you, nor will they understand what an entertaining flick this is . . . but trust me and check it out (also, it's fun to say the title as if you were a Bill Swerski Superfan . . . What are you watching? Da Bear).

Infectious Irony

If I hear one more Ebola joke, I'm going to run a fever, start bleeding from my gums, and have impaired kidney and liver function.


Some Girls Give Me Diamonds, Some Girls Heart Attacks . . .

This school year, I endure many hardships:

1) I have to teach in three different rooms;

2) the periods when I am off from teaching in these three different rooms, the English office is full of women . . .

but I have learned a few things:

1) some women plan their trips to the gym around their hair-washing schedule;

2) I am a disorganized wreck and should not be teaching in three rooms.

Autumnal Ultimatum

Dear Fall,

unless you start producing some appropriately cold and crisp weather, I am going on a writing strike--

unseasonably (and sweatily) yours--

Dave.




Dave Almost Does Something New and Different (Warning: This Sentence is Anti-Climactic)

Saturday night, in order to make my life even more entertaining, I used this Random Word Generator to generate three words (pear, ransom and rudder) and then I told everyone at dinner that I was going to use the random words seamlessly and fluidly during the course of the evening (we were headed to a birthday party) but I didn't tell my friends what the random words were, and then at the end of the night, they would have to guess what the words were . . . but then the party was so much fun that I actually talked to a lot of different people and completely forgot the plan; I will have to try this activity again at a less dynamic event.

Turning It Around

I was having a rough Monday, but then after I finished my sandwich, I took the used aluminum foil and wrapped it around my plastic knife and fork and threw this package-- tomahawk style-- at the trash can, which was twenty feet away and obstructed by a table, and my shot hooked around the edge of the table and cleanly into the trash . . . and then I felt much better.

How Do You Treat a Sick Zombie? Very Carefully

I've become inured to the astounding amount of zombie-slaughtering gook and gore on The Walking Dead, but in season four there's also deadly flu-virus outbreak among the survivors, so on top of all the gross undead stuff, you also have to endure actual realistic sickness and quarantine . . . yuck!

Research

If someone in the car in front of you does something stupid, it's very important to speed up and get a look at the person who did the stupid thing; you need to know exactly what kind of person comes to a complete stop in a merge lane (a gray-haired butch looking lady wearing a denim shirt) or pulls out from a gas station onto Route 1 and crosses several lanes driving perpendicular to the lanes before turning into the flow of the traffic (short Indian man wearing a hat).
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.