Last night, just after discussing the infamous "one-upper" that now works with us (this Emilio, he is more than famous for his "one-upping"-- for example: when a co-worker mentioned that he made some guacamole, Emilio claimed that he was growing an avocado tree in his closet) my friend Eric described a house he was land-scaping and he mentioned the well-maintained garden with its plethora of pepper plants (a plethora, oh yes El Guapo, we have a plethora) including a beautiful Thai hot pepper bush with tiny colorful hot peppers growing all over it-- and I then remarked that I owned several such beautiful Thai hot pepper bushes when we lived in Syria and kept them on our porch, where they served as a decorative, living spice rack and Catherine looked at me and said, "I think someone is doing some one-upping" and she was right.
Like the Harry Potter series, Feed the Animals -- the super mash-up album by Girl Talk (actually a dude) -- is totally entertaining, completely derivative, and probably only so much fluff, but the question is: when you skillfully put the same old elements in a new context, is it great pop art, or a comment on the fluid and disposable nature of pop art?
There comes a time in a man's life when he realizes that sports are not a metaphor for life; that sports, in fact, are far simpler, reductive, and easier to master than life; and that he should give up pursuing success in life and simply concentrate on sports (perhaps I'm realizing this because I'm reading Richard Ford's The Sportswriter).
In my quest to see the movies everyone else has already seen (you may recall my failed attempt to watch Top Gun) I finished The Big Chill last night, and my favorite piece of trivia about the movie is this: when the guys battle the bats in the attic, Harold (Kevin Klein) hums the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark . . . which was also written by Lawrence Kasdan (the second best piece of trivia: Kevin Costner played the dead body being dressed in the tuxedo at the start of the film).
Happiness is going to the dentist because you think your abscess has returned and it will have to be "scooped out" like last time (and you will have to receive another Novocaine shot to the roof of your mouth) but instead you only need to take some penicillin . . . happiness is also staring at a very large spider on the ceiling, trying to determine how to remove it, but taking no action because your wife is still sleeping, and she is in charge of spiders (yes, despite all my trips to far off jungles and deserts, I am still scared silly of spiders, like the elephant is petrified of the mouse) but when she wakes up and I apprise her of the situation, she grabs a Tupperware and some paper towels-- and with alacrity, with alacrity-- she stands on the table, with her face right at giant spider level, and swats it into the Tupperware and then squashes it (I then examined the carcass and concluded that it was not the deadly brown recluse . . . but I think all spiders are going to be either a black widow or a brown recluse).
Happiness is stepping on the scale after a two week vacation that was both gluttonous and bibulous, and weighing the same as when you left (and we are talking very gluttonous, the week with the cousins revolved around food, whether it was pork and broccoli rabe sandwiches, meatball night, Mexican night, Mrs. Brizzle's super-stacked prosciutto and soppressata subs, carnivore night, etc-- and the second week with our friends there was more of a balance between food and drink-- we had Ed to mix drinks-- but the meals were equally as good-- Michelle outdid herself, of course, and we managed to finish all of my wife's meatballs, though we were allotted sixteen each . . . I think the reason I didn't gain weight was that we did a prodigious amount of digging in the sand (and produced two sand sculptures-- a bird and a dragon) and the skim was up . . . or down . . . it was very, very good, so my down time, my time not running around with the kids, was spent sprinting through the shallow surf and jumping on a thin plastic board . . . that's me in the picture, the oldest, fattest, most hirsute skim-boarder in the East).
Dave's Quote of the Day is up and running again as well . . .
Number one reason to have children: you can send them to ask questions of people you would never talk to . . . for example, on the beach there was a stuffed squirrel on a towel so we asked Alex to go ask the owner if it was real, and after he made several trips with various queries from us (he returned with answers like “yes, it's real, but dead” and “no it wasn't a pet” and, finally, the answer to the big question, the favorite question, the most meaningful question of all . . . why?: to freak people out on the beach) and so our curiosity was satisfied without having to leave the comfort of our social circle or our beach chairs.
We spent the first five days at the beach at the beach-- the boys were at each other's throats in the condo, and so we would be on the sand at 8:30 and stay until 5:00 (and we had to wait until noon before the cousins got out there so Alex and Ian had kids to play with, although Alex met a kid his age who was right on his wavelength, who, coincidentally, turned out to be the son of an older William and Mary football player who played safety with Mark Kelso)-- but finally by Thursday we were all worn out, and Ian had to visit the doctor because of a fungal infection around the rim of his penis . . . so salt water doesn't cure everything.
I finished Richard Ford's "Independence Day" last week at the beach-- the book that precedes "Lay of the Land" and I have the sneaking suspicion that I read it when it came out thirteen years ago, but there's nothing definite that makes me sure I read it (and it is nearly five hundred pages) except that I felt a sense of deja vu during the end, which leads me to think that I either A) read an excerpt in the New Yorker or B) have completely lost my mind.
I've been thinking about a name for my new music project (which isn't starting for a while, despite the songs being written, because we have to finish the kitchen before I can get a new computer, and my old one melted down) and I am down to two (rather poor) hypotheticals: Rubber Bug and Dave and the Gray Goo.
Yesterday (and I'm pretty sure very few people in North America can claim this) Dom and I were lucky enough to hear two different bands in the same bar play versions of "Baba O'Reilly" . . . we walked in to the Springfield Inn to hear Mike LeCompt but we had the times wrong, and a different band was playing-- The Juliano Brothers (three very fat guys who appeared to be related; they were very entertaining, especially the drummer . . . imagine Jabba the Hutt behind a drum-kit . . . his belly touched every drum and he also sang as he played, you couldn't turn away) and the second version was by the inimitable Mike LeCompt, who heads possibly the greatest bar-band in the universe, he was the lead singer for the hair band Tangier back in the 80's but now he plays every night of the summer on the Jersey shore, and during their three sets-- they played until two in the morning--the band nailed songs as diverse as Carly Simon's You're So Vain, Zeppelin's "Ramble On" (who can sing that besides Robert Plant?) Bonnie Tyler's "Clouds in my Coffee," Whitesnake, Styx, Elvis, Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) and lots of Who-- they finished with "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "The Seeker."
The cliche is that time passes slowly when you are young, and that each summer day is an eternity unto itself, and that as you get older the days, weeks, and months just rush by, but this is bullshit if you are spending all day with a four year old and a three year old (and you don't let them watch TV)-- there is some kind of time relativity transference, and their slow perception of time gets transferred to me, which has its pros and cons . . . I'm definitely getting more out of life, but by 3:30 I need to drink a cup of coffee just to keep up.
While at the science museum, my three year old son Ian and I followed the instructions and positioned our faces next to the monitor and listened to the spooky music and then POW! the sound of a gunshot startled us . . . we were totally duped in the Neurology of Fear exhibit; we thought the display was about spookiness but it was actually a display of our flight or fight response and we were being filmed-- and so the computer played a slow motion replay of Ian and I shitting our pants: grimaces, raised eyebrows, bug-eyes, rapidly raised shoulders--- hysterical.
190 pound man + very little knowledge of the butterfly + repeated attempts to do the butterfly after reading a chapter in a swimming book + very little self-consciousness or embarrassment about doing something ridiculous (some of you may remember the story of when I whipped my bathing suit off in the shower next to the pool, thinking I was already in the men's locker room, though I still had ten yards to go) + determination in the face of incompetence = miniature tsunami.
Sixteen levels of cabinetry, four levels of granite(and now you need to test it for radon), Silestone, Cambria, tile, wood, bamboo . . . the list goes on and on for the options available for the new kitchen, and the permutations and pricing becomes an endless labor; it would really stress me out if I were the one doing the research (and even knowing Catherine is contemplating all this stuff stresses me out a little, but if I told her that she would hit me).
Mice don't get Alzheimer's disease, which is annoying, but luckily, scientists figured out how to genetic alter them so they do-- which makes me feel a lot better, because if I start losing my mind, I don't want to be taunted by a bunch of mice (in fact, if I do get AD, I wouldn't mind having a pet mouse with AD that I could forget to feed until it shriveled and died).
I'm pretty sure Alex and Ian have come to a tacit agreement that they do not want any other children horning in on their deal, so they've agreed that the only way to preserve their positions in the household is by bringing Catherine and I to our knees each and every day, so we won't even consider having another child-- and although I'm tired, I'm also impressed with their cooperation in this endeavor.
For a good massage, ask for Sabrina at the Chinese Acupressure place on 27 between Third and Fourth Street in Highland Park-- the price is right for an hour massage (48$ and it is a full hour, there's a timer, none of this fifty minutes and a cup of water bullshit) and the massage alternates between relaxing pressure and spontaneous violence: Sabrina will be gently rubbing the nook in your Achilles one moment and then pounding your feet with her closed fists the next, or she'll be straddled over you rubbing your back then suddenly wedging her thumb under your iliotibial band-- it makes for an exciting time, and I felt like a new man afterwards.
I had an idea for a new blog-- One Hundred Portraits of Dave-- but I haven't followed through; the premise is that I draw 100 quick self-portraits on my tablet (no revision, no erasing, no tossing a really bad one) and see if I get any better at it, and this was my first attempt.
On my quest to plug the gaps in my pop-culture erudition, I tried to watch Top Gun, but I only made it half-way through-- I reached my high-five limit-- and I was worried that I would never know why Maverick's dad died, but Wikipedia has an excellent and precise plot summary that is far more entertaining than the movie . . . and so now I have to decide, much like my students, do I actually watch The Big Chill or do I just read the synopsis and fake it?
I thought I knew my way around Highland Park (it's only a mile square) but-- based on some information from one of the elementary school teachers-- we found a new park (new to us); it's right behind the White Rose System and it has an old school merry-go-round and a cool rock wall for the kids to climb and some kind of fenced in court and it's shaded by huge trees and it was full of Asian grandmothers watching their grandchildren.