You Had to Be There (But Here It Is Anyway)

Two big laughs in the English office this week, but you probably had to be there: someone put a quotation on the public whiteboard in reference to Todd Whitaker, the slick positive-thinking Evangelical-style presenter the district hired last Friday (he gets 10 grand plus for a day's work and his licensed DVD costs $449)

"a good teacher complains about the price of staff development, but a great teacher shuts up and gives me her fucking money"

and another teacher drew (and colored!) a very funny comic, but again, you might need to be an English teacher to appreciate it-- the conceit is that a fetus in a jar has come after school to make up a quiz on Hemingway's short story "Hills Like White Elephants" and the teacher tells the fetus to "take as much time as you need."


Nothing is cuter than a toddler's malapropism (Daddy look, I scissored the paper!) but what about when your wife, after a sticky negotiation with the cabinet man, says "I really smooched him" instead of "I really schmoozed him"-- is this a cute Freudian slip or should I take it as an admission of infidelity with a woodworker for the sake of a discount?


I had to read every paragraph twice, but I finished David Smick's The World is Curved: Hidden dangers to the Global Economy (The Mortgage Crisis was Only the Beginning) and for two hours after I completed the book, I understood securitized mortgage assets and the value of hedge funds and the trillion American dollars China has hoarded and the importance of transparency and an investment system that encourages entrepreneurial risk and a whole lot of other economic information, but no one had the common sense or curiosity to ask me about it during my "window" of knowledge, and I wasn't able to bring it up in conversation-- my wife doesn't fall for that ploy (hey honey, while I was taking out the trash I started thinking about what would happen if Japanese housewives tied up their savings in illiquid investments . . . did you ever wonder how that would affect the global economy?) so now the knowledge is gone, it has floated into the ether, along with other useless things I have read like the history of the Vikings and the mathematics of island geography.

It's Best Not To Complain

If you read yesterday's post, then you'll be happy to know that when I ordered two eggs and cheese on a roll (salt pepper ketchup) at the White Rose System, and the cook misheard me and gave me TWO entire egg and cheese sandwiches (I thought it was weird that it cost $4.49 but didn't say anything) instead of one sandwich with two eggs on it, I didn't give the extra sandwich back-- instead I remained silent and ate them both.

I Like Porkroll Too . . .

It's always disturbing to see someone who was once in shape and now has grown obese; for example, I saw the full-lipped red haired aerobics instructor from the now razed YWHA-- who, back in the day, was semi-attractive, despite her liberal use of lipstick, and certainly filled her spandex outfits provocatively (if your taste is a bit zaftig)-- but now she's obese, she waddled up to the counter at The Park Deli and ordered THREE pork roll egg and cheese sandwiches, I thought there but by the Grace of God goes I.


I've been busy writing songs-- in anticipation of getting a new computer so I can get back into home-recording, but when I slotted this lyric in for an easy rhyme I really thought I had stolen it from another song: "and the future is someone else's past," but I Googled it and it's not . . . is it possible that no one has used this cliche as a song lyric?


Alex had the joy of getting his first allusion-- he knew that the music playing during the start of Chicken Little, while the water tank rolled juggernaut style through the town, was a reference to Indiana Jones and the infamous boulder, and I knew his joy, the joy of getting the joke, the joy of seeing the light, the joy of Paraxenes once he found his way out of the canyon.


This is what I have learned from our kitchen addition/dining room/bathroom/playroom renovation project: when your house is really really cold in the morning, even the most hyper-active of children sleep late (I have also learned that the soffit is the "armpit of the house).

Beefing Up The Language With a New Sniglet

If the women in my wife's book group are truly serious about this whole organic thing, then they need to do some cowpooling (which is like carpooling, except that instead of piling in a car to save gas and allay traffic, you buy an entire grass fed cow and then cut it into parts and everybody takes a piece home . . . and unlike tupperawareness, I did not coin this word: I learned it in this month's issue of Wired).


My wife crossed the line last night, that invisible line between civility and despotism . . . the invisible line that runs down the middle of our bed; I got up to get a drink of water, and when I came back to bed she was stretchd out like the Queen of Sheba (I have no idea if this allusion makes any sense in this context) and I had to wedge myself into the oblong space she left for me-- but I took solace in the fact that it was bigger than the bed Jan made Michael Scott sleep in because of her "space issues."


Thus endeth the streak: after coaching thirty plus eighth grade soccer games without a loss, we suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of our arch-nemesis (Hillsboro) -- a big strong team that made some of our players look malnourished, but we ran hard and controlled much of the play so I can't complain too much, and I think I will only cane the players once or twice for ruining my unblemished record.

A Useful Technique

I never remember my dreams, but last night I had a vivid one wherein I hooked a giant marlin and . . . sorry, I almost broke my own rule-- everyone knows there is nothing more boring than hearing a grown man recount an incoherent dream; when Liz Lemon starts to talk about her dream on 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy picks up an imaginary phone and says to her, "Sorry Lemon, I have to take this."

An Orange in Iowa Was Once a Miracle

This will be my last post on this blog (and in fact, my last interaction with the Internet) because I have been reading Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, a memoir by Mildred Armstrong Kalish; I'm so enthralled with the camaraderie, self-reliance, and rugged civility of these farmers that I have decided to go to Iowa by covered wagon during the Great Depression and start a farm so that my spoiled suburban children learn to treat their own maladies with spider webs and vinegar, slaughter a chicken by age six, and enjoy the hell out of an orange.


I probably didn't look like the most compassionate coach in youth athletics when I strode over to my player (who was lying fon the sidewalk crying and clutching his ankle) and I started yelling "I told you! Didn't I tell you!" but you really had to see what happened moments earlier . . . I passed by the same player on my way into the building and told him "Stop juggling the ball in your cleats on the pavement-- YOU ARE GOING TO GET HURT, if you have to jump around, go play on the grass, DO NOT GET INJURED BEFORE THE GAME" and then I walked inside, happy that I had given an eighth grader some clear and concise coaching advice, so when I came out of the building and the girl's coach-- young, concerned and earnest-- rushed up to me and told me one of my players was injured and that he had rolled his ankle on the curb, I was, of course, in no mood to play the role of Florence Nightingale.

Know Your Audience

This is the kind of joke that only gets a laugh in a room full of Shakespeare geeks-- someone left a CAPITALISM SUCKS pin on a desk in the back of the room, so I picked it up and said, "Someone left their CAPITALISM SUCKS pin here . . . would anyone like to buy it from me?"


My friend from Ohio promised me that the Giants would destroy the Browns, so I didn't even attempt to stay up and watch the game . . . and that's the last time I trust anyone from the Midwest


Sometimes, in the early morning, I hear the sound of a stream cascading into a pool of water punctuated by several ominous silences, and the number and length of those silences determine how much of my son Alex's urine I will have to wade through in my bare feet to get to the sink.


I don't mean to get all Brigitte Jones on you, but between playing lots of soccer, running around with my kids, coaching and having no kitchen, I'm down to just a shade over twelve stone (186 pounds) and I've been on a reverse diet-- plenty of ice cream and candy and pizza-- so I'm very happy with the weight loss, but of course, there's the chance that I have giant intestinal roundworms again.


We didn't get the message, and so Alex wore his Darth Vader shirt on school picture day-- and if he becomes infamous or famous in some way, you can bet someone will dig that photo up . . .


Those of you who don't think soccer is high scoring enough would have enjoyed my team's eight to five victory over Old Bridge-- and this was a real score, not one of those games in which the score gets padded when the subs go in-- it was five to five several minutes into the second half.

Great Moments in Teaching Part I

In Creative Writing class, I told my students to make a circle so we could play a memory game, and everyone got up and started shuffling between desks-- except for one girl, who was concentrating on her notebook; finally, she picked her head up and looked around at everyone standing . . . and with a sheepish grin she held up what she had been so diligently working on: she had drawn a circle.


Yesterday signified the end of something: we went to the beach and the day started cold, rainy, and windy but by noon it was sunny and the ocean was freakishly warm and both boys got completely wet, and after I changed them we went to Pete and Elda's for pizza and then they slept all the way home . . . it was hard to remember that soon enough we're in for a long dark winter.


If you're an eighth grade soccer player on the bus after a game, then the height of fun is to sniff the inside of a fellow competitor's cleats.


This morning, I was feeling tired, and so when I showered I used some of Catherine's Cucumber Melon Rejuvenating Body Wash, and it was very refreshing: almost instantly I felt like a ripe and fresh cucumber (or melon) sitting plumply in a spring garden, dew dripping down my firm and smooth cucumber (or melon) skin, and, just like a rejuvenated cucumber (or melon) I was ready to face the day.

Two For One Pizza: Sounds Like A Good Idea, Right?

A fond memory: Aposto's, the narrow Italian bistro where we ate the other night, was once a far grubbier pizza joint called 2 For 1 Pizza, and the deal was this: when you ordered one pie, you got two pies for the price of that one-- in theory this was a good deal, but the same absurd dialog comprised every order . . . I'll take two pies . . . okay boss, two pies . . . so that means four pies? . . . you want four pies? . . . no, no, because then I'll get eight pies, right? . . . you want eight pies? . . . no I want four pies . . . okay, four pies . . . yes, so I'm only ordering two pies, so I get two for one, like the name, right . . . yes, then you get four pies . . . okay, just ring up two pies, okay . . . okay . . . okay . . . okay . . . just to be sure, I'm going to walk out of here with four pizza pies, right? . . . right . . . okay . . . right . . . okay.


Republicans: the party of financial regulation.


There's a tambourine in the backseat of my car, but the only time I remember it's there is when I hit a bump.

The Doppelgangers is a Bad Name for a Sitcom

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree . . . Alex likes to use the right word for things, a fairly useless and frustrating characteristic; yesterday in the stroller, we passed by the house that has the same model and color Subaru as we do, and Alex reminded me of his fantasy about the family that lives there: that they are our twins in most every way-- number, age, appearance, etc.-- and then he asked me what we called them and I said, "I don't know" and made up a nonsensical rhyme of our last name and he said "No, not that kind of name" and then I remembered what word he was looking for . . . "our doppelgangers?" and he said, "Yeah, doppelgangers, they're our doppelgangers!" and I'm hoping he doesn't bring this up at pre-school because he's already weird enough.


Sometimes when my children find other kids to play with at the park-- which is happening more and more often-- I get bored, and sometimes when I get bored, especially if I've forgotten something to read, then I toss whatever balls we've brought in the wagon at my kids; I did this the other day with a Nerf football, I chucked it over the top of the jungle gym, hoping to surprise little Ian, but my aim was too precise and I hit him in the side of the face, and so he turned to me and said "Daddy, you hurt me" and then went back to playing . . . and then I noticed that another father caught the whole thing, and his look of disgust for me was priceless.

He Hates to Say It . . . But He Loves to Say It

You're not supposed to like saying "I told you so" but in his book The Black Swan, all Nassim Nicholas Taleb has to say about the current financial crisis is: "I told you so"-- and there's nothing more enjoyable than saying "I hate to say it, but I told you so."


Last Saturday, I was that asshole: I chose a shopping cart at Target with a bad caster that alternated between making a loud clattering sound and a high pitched shriek, and I was too lazy to switch carts, instead I suffered the frowns of employees and shoppers alike-- it was early-- AND I got into the "express" lane at the grocery store and before I realized that I had more than twelve items, there was a line behind me . . . I thought I didn't have much but I did -- six bottles of seltzer, four cans of SpaghettiOs, two things of lunch meat, rolls, a loaf of bread, hot pepper rings, two packs of paper plates and a pack of paper cups-- for a grand total of eighteen items-- 50% more than the limit; once I realized my transgression I turned bright red, and all I could do was bag really fast and race out of the store (and the vocabulary word of the day is caster).
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.