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 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!


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).

The Hallway Stutter Step is Never Pretty

Normally, I teach all my classes in the same classroom, but this year-- due to some scheduling conflicts-- I'm in three different spots . . . in between second and third period I actually have to hustle up a flight of stairs in order to make it to class on time-- and all this moving around is a challenge for me, because I'm not very organized, and so I've been doing quite a bit of stutter-stepping in the hallways: that weird and abrupt stop and turn around that always looks bizarre-- because I've just remembered that I've forgotten something and so I switch from walking full speed in one direction to walking full speed in the opposite direction, and this spin move is preceded by some nimble footwork, which might look athletic on the soccer field, but is just awkward and ugly in the workplace, so I apologize to everyone who has had to endure seeing me do it.

It's Gotta Be the Shoes, Right?

The power of brands is fascinating . . . if I say the words "Dolce Gabbana" to a high school class, it doesn't make much of an impression on most of the kids, but several students (usually female) will have an instant and visceral reaction-- it's like they just ate something amazingly satisfying and delicious-- and I find it odd that I don't know exactly why they have this reaction; I know that Dolce & Gabbana makes high end shoes, but I don't know what the brand means (the way I know what it means to own a Subaru) but apparently that doesn't matter, just uttering the syllables in a passionate voice can elicit sighs and moans from a select few-- which is a testament to the product, the advertising, or a combination of both.

One of the Many Things That Grosses Me Out

Every morning, I pour out the puddle of condensation that forms overnight inside the yogurt tub.

Dave is Almost Weird, Sad and Lonely

Last Thursday, I almost didn't go to the pub for the following reasons:

1) I was totally exhausted from school and soccer;

2) I've gotten obsessed with the step sequencer within my computerized digital recording software, which allows you to drag and drop patterns of notes into different synthesizers and drum machines-- armed with a minimal knowledge of music theory and a decent understanding of the program (Cakewalk X2), you can create some really wild sounding electronic music, and then layer in guitar and your own percussion from a drum pad . . . but I'm glad I ended up going out because Roman told a lot of filthy jokes and it would have been kind of sad to stay in and make music with a computer, instead of going out with my friends (and-- as a bonus-- one of the ladies at the bar reciprocated in the joke telling and performed an inspired and completely profane version of the "DEATH . . .  BY BOOFATA!" joke).

Dave Sets a Personal Soccer Event Record!

Last week, in one seven day period, I crammed in a dozen soccer events; and while I don't claim that this is any kind of world record, it's pretty impressive for an introvert like me; for posterity, here they are:

1) I coached a JV game on Monday;

2) coached JV practice Tuesday afternoon;

3) coached travel practice Tuesday night;

4) coached a JV game on Wednesday;

5) coached JV practice Thursday afternoon;

6) coached travel practice Thursday night . . . but I still made it to the pub;

7) coached JV practice Friday . . . I probably shouldn't have stayed for the last round Thursday night;

8) coached a travel game on Saturday . . . and our field was flooded so we had to move the goals and basically create a small field on a different field, so this soccer event turned out to more work than usual;

9) attended a Red Bulls game Saturday night with the wife and kids-- a great game, the Red Bulls won 1-0 and we ate at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Newark before the game, a good spot;

10) I played soccer with my pick-up crew Sunday morning;

11) coached my son Ian's travel game later on Sunday;

12) then watched my older son Alex's travel game, which started directly after Ian's game on Sunday;

and the result of all this soccer is that the game invaded my dreams and consciousness, I woke up thinking about it and went to sleep thinking about it . . . and like when you repeat a word over and over again until it sounds like gibberish, there were times when I found my life existential and absurd, but at the end of the week, on Sunday, when both my sons played travel games and they scored all the goals (Ian scored two in a 3-2 loss and Alex scored 1 in a 2-1 loss) which made everything meaningful again, which is ridiculous, but no matter how much I know you should stay detached from your children's athletic success, there's still nothing more exciting than when they score a goal-- especially for my son Alex, who rarely knocks one in . . . and there's more of the same in the coming weeks, so I'm going to have trouble coming up with non-soccer related material.

Fatalii Has the Word "Fatal" In It

My friend grew some Fatalii peppers in his garden, but he's not into hot peppers so he gave them to me-- and I tried a bit of one raw, but it made me cry and spit up phlegm, so I pickled them (which makes more sense, since they are listed as the seventh hottest pepper in the world, with heat ranging from 125,000 to 400,00 Scoville Units . . . and to put this in perspective, a jalapeƱo pepper averages approximately 5,000 Scoville Units) and I opened the jar last week and tried one, and I did this after breakfast-- at 6:45 AM, just before going to school-- and the pepper was very hot but also very delicious, with a sweet citrusy flavor in addition to the spiciness-- so I had my wife put some on my salad; forty five minutes later, I started sweating and had to race to the bathroom (luckily I wasn't teaching . . . I have hall duty first period) but despite these consequences, I courageously downed the rest of the peppers when I ate my salad at lunch, and I think I've built some resistance because I didn't suffer any adverse effects after lunch and now I'm eating a couple of them a day and I feel very strong and virile and manly, and I also feel like my colon is very clean from the massive doses of capsaicin I've been administering to it, so if anyone wants to try one, just swing by (but make sure you're near a bathroom forty-five minutes after you ingest it).

A Good Read (If You're Over Thirty)

If you grew up in the '80's, Ernest Cline's sci-fi novel Ready Player One is so entertaining and satisfying that it feels like a guilty pleasure . . . it's set in the nearish future and things are predictably bleak and apocalyptic, but the masses find sanctuary in a massively multiplayer online virtual reality simulation called OASIS, which was created by the '80's nerd culture fanatic James Halliday; when Halliday died, he left a posthumous easter egg quest in the game-- and the winner would take control of his company, the game, and the incredibly vast fortunes that he amassed over his life (Halliday is a Steve Jobs/ Bill Gates hybrid) and the story follows Wade, the narrator, as he navigates the quest (and the violent repercussions of his success in reality) but the fun of the book is in the references and allusions: Joust, Zork, Pac-Man, Tempest, TRS-80,War Games, Star Wars, Bladerunner, John Hughes, Dungeons and Dragons, vintage Japanese TV and film, etcetera, etcetera . . . Cline packs in the '80's references on every page, from the obvious to the obscure; I'm not sure if the novel would be entertaining to anyone who wasn't a nerd in the '80's, but if you did grow up then, and know what a dodecahedron is, then read it.

Dave is Almost a Good Person

While walking around the school, I noticed a soda cup (complete with plastic top and straw) stuck in a boxwood shrub next to the soccer field-- a lazy student must have used the bush as a trash receptacle-- and so I went over, removed the cup, and threw it in the trash can (which was less than twenty yards from the shrubbery) and while part of me felt very good about my altruistic behavior, there was another part of my brain, the quid pro quo part, that was thinking: Dave just earned the right to litter (one time only) in the near future.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.