It must be really hard to be an unbiased and objective news reporter; case in point, how do you NOT inject some sarcasm into this story from The Week: "Orchard Park, N.Y. The founder of a television network devoted to improving the image of Muslims was charged this week with beheading his wife . . . Hassan founded the Bridges TV network to counter negative stereotypes about Muslims after the 9/11 attacks" -- so, does his network cover the story . . . if they do, it's certainly going to promote a negative stereotype, but if they ignore it, it's going to promote a different negative stereotype.
So why is it that when you go to the doctor's office and they give you antibiotics for a sebaceous cyst (which is essentially a big pimple) and you ask if you can drink beer while you are taking antibiotics for this non-life threatening infected hair follicle thing that is essentially a big pimple, why is it that the doctor-- a woman younger than you who looks like a reasonable sort of girl-- looks at you as if you are a lunatic dipsomaniac and says (in a tone somewhere between shock and disgust) "It's only seven days, and you should never mix alcohol with antibiotics"?
Apparently, Tiger Woods hasn't played golf for a year, but I didn't know this-- my brother actually claimed I was lying to him when I told him I wasn't aware that Tiger hadn't hit the links in a while and accused me of "living under a rock"-- so I'd like to offer an official apology to Tiger Woods (and give him a coveted photo-op on my blog) and I'd also like to say I'm sorry to all other athletes and celebrities that I have not paid enough attention to in the last year.
I thought raising kids was hard enough, but now what do I say when they bring up the subject of marijuana use . . . you might end up like Michael Phelps . . . or the President . . . or even (gasp) Cheech and Chong! (maybe mentioning that Bill Clinton didn't inhale will set them straight).
Saturday night Catherine and I went to a "reunion" of the Melody bar; Catherine wanted to see her old roommate, who often played music there and who invited her on Facebook-- but on the Facebook invitation it said that only those 36 and over would be admitted, which we thought was a joke, but when we got to the Elks, the old bouncer from the Melody was working the door (wearing a NASA suit and looking as dour as ever) and he checked our ID's and actually turned a fellow teacher away who was 35 3/4 years old, so he had to wander off to meet other people at Harvest Moon, but he didn't miss much-- it was hot and crowded inside, and although we talked to a few people and everyone looked half familiar (and scarily old)we were ready to go after an hour (you couldn't get a drink-- they had the old bartender from the Melody working, too, and he looked like he was about to have an aneurysm)-- Catherine got to see her roommate again, who looked exactly the same (except I think she got a nose-job, but I didn't ask)and once we got outside there was actually a giant line to get in, and luckily we saw the rest of the North Brunswick crowd we were supposed to meet (I think this is as close to a twenty year reunion as class of '88 is going to get)and pulled them out of line and went to Harvest Moon, and it was definitely fun to see everyone-- but I still don't understand how Harvest Moon has survived for so long, it's been making average to awful beer for a over decade now-- you think they'd either get better at making beer or go out of business, but it's always crowded.
Sorry about yesterday's sentence about nothing-- today's will be about something far more concrete: money; February is my favorite month because I make more money per hour (due to the fact that the month is the shortest, yet my bi-weekly paycheck remains the same) though I suppose if I were an extremely dedicated teacher, I would try to cram in a little more learning each day in February so the taxpayers would get their money's worth.
I'm trying something new, I'm starting this sentence with absolutely no idea, no topic, not a thought in my head, and I'm just going to roll with it and see where it goes, and hope some kernel of a thought, some nugget of consciousness, some crackle in my synapses sends a concrete subject to my mind which will then flows effortlessly into my fingers, to be typed for your entertainment and pleasure-- but if in the end, when all is said and done, the sentence says nothing at all, then still, there is this question: was this a waste of time for everyone involved, or something more significant?
Last night, our next door neighbors went out for the evening and in the mad rush (they have five kids) they left their dog out and he was barking incessantly while Catherine and the kids were trying to fall asleep, so I opened the window and yelled "Colby, stop it!" and, unlike my children, he actually listened . . . so I'm thinking I could star in a TV show called The Dog Hollerer (and in addition, an hour later, when he started to yelp again, I opened our bathroom window to use my hollering skills once more, but he shut up at the sound of the window opening so I've definitely got some kind of special power here).
A funny sentence from Daniel Levitin's This is Your Brain on Music-- a book that has as much technical neuroscience as it does music theory, Levitin was a session musician and record producer but now he runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University: "The research on the development of the first MRI scanners was performed by the British company EMI, financed in a large part from their profits on Beatles records . . . I Want to Hold Your Hand might well have been titled I Want to Scan Your Brain."
Random recollection from the surreal time before children: Catherine left my alone for the day, but when she came home I was in the same spot as when she left nine hours earlier, but with greasier hair (I had hair then) because I discovered speed chess on the internet.
I gave up reading Netherland, a subtle novel about cricket and divorce in post 9-11 New York-- it was too subtle for me, perhaps someone can explain what it was all about and why it got such great reviews; instead I read two easy books with very long titles, both of which I highly recommend for people who want something less subtle: 1) Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . Understanding Philosophy through Jokes, which delivers what it promises-- it's a great review of both the classic joke structures and the classic debates in philosophy (A sadist is a masochist who follows the Golden Rule) and 2) The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston, imagine a darker, gorier and less romanticized version of the world of Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction, in fact, substitute a giant fat Asian for Harvey Keitel and set it in the sleazy side of Los Angeles, in a world where you actually have to use cleaning supplies to get rid of splattered brains, throw in a teacher with a past who is way out of his depth, and you're getting to close.
I recommend Transiberian if you want to watch a fast-paced thriller set in an exotic locale, plus it has one of those hysterical movie conventions where the hero suddenly and fortuitously uses what you thought was a random skill mentioned earlier in the story-- I won't ruin it, but it reminds me of when Benjamin Braddock (The Graduate) runs out of gas on the way to the wedding and has to hoof it to prevent the marriage of Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine to the med school guy-- but luckily, as was mentioned in the beginning of the movie-- he's a track star!
It made me happy that I put the drawer slides upside-down in our new TV stand, because I was forced to reach into the drawer recess and unscrew them, which gave me an opportunity to use the tiny flashlight at the end of my power screw-driver, something I just discovered (though we've had it for ten years) the other day by accident . . . and when the tiny light popped on because I hit the little switch I had never noticed before, I wondered: "When the hell am I ever going to need a tiny flash light at the end of my battery powered screwdriver?" and now I have answered my own question.
You would think that after yesterday's debacle, I'd have learned my lesson, but today in Creative Writing class I was demonstrating some point about sensory detail and-- spurred by a line in the instructive essay we were reading that portrayed birth as a wonderful, joyous event . . . I decided to provide a counter-example-- and so I launched into a graphic description of my son Alex's birth, which was pretty hairy: the umbilical cord was wrapped several times around his neck and the staff had to toss Catherine back and forth like a sack of potatoes to try to loosen it so he wouldn't suffocate, and then the doctor said, "You've got three pushes to get this baby out or we're going to have to do an emergency C-section!" and somewhere in the middle of this visceral tale I looked down and noticed that one of my new students, a chubby girl, was turning green and looked like she was going to pass out, and then I noticed why . . . she wasn't chubby, she was very very pregnant, but it was too late, I was already deep into the story and so I had to finish it (and I talked to her later and told her I was sorry and that I didn't meant to scare her and she said the story wasn't as horrific as she first thought it was going to be) but the real question is who am I going to target tomorrow?
Warning: if your opinion of Dave is already low, this sentence may make it subterranean, so proceed at your own risk . . . yesterday was the second day of my new Creative Writing Class (we switch at the semester) and one of the students wasn't quite in his seat when the bell rang, so I yelled in what i thought was a playful but slightly admonitory tone, "If you're not in your seat when the bell rings you're late!" and the student limped to his seat-- and I thought hmmm, looks like he has a limp and then got on with the class; later in the period we went on a "field trip" to the cafeteria, and the same late, limping student was the last one out of the classroom-- so I had to wait for him before I locked the door-- and I noticed that he had a brace on his hand, so I asked him, "Hey, how did you get injured?" and he quietly said to me "It happened when I was born" and then, in a humiliating rush of cognition, it all came together in my very stupid little brain-- he wasn't limping from a skate-park injury, he was crippled, and that wasn't a brace because he jammed his thumb playing hoops, his elbow joints were inverted-- and so I apologized to him about how I managed to put my (left) foot in my mouth not once but twice in a manner of minutes-- and though I said I was sorry, this kid must still wonder how he drew such an insensitive and cruel teacher for an elective (unless perhaps-- and I'm rationalizing like a madman here-- perhaps the disabled student liked the fact that I didn't notice his disability and was just as callous with him as I am with everyone else) and the class, which is composed almost completely of sweet girls, must think I'm a complete lout, and so, to remedy these faults in my personality: I swear here in this Official Sentence of Dave (TM) to START PAYING MORE ATTENTION TO MY SURROUNDINGS AND TO THINK MORE CAREFULLY BEFORE I SPEAK.
After interviewing many friends, students, and co-workers, I have decided to switch to a Mac; I told my students it feels like I'm getting ready for a sex change but they said it isn't that severe-- so now I'm ready to switch teams (or switch back, as I once had an AppleIIe) and all I need to get going is for some charitable soul to buy me an iMac.
Building your own custom bookshelves is easy . . . you just saw the wood, sand it, and then screw it together . . . it's so easy it makes me laugh-- HA HA HA HA HA HA-- it's so easy you should buy the cheap grade of lumber, because you can just push real hard and then it will fit together squarely, everything snaps together just like Legos, pardon me I have to laugh more because I had so much fun building my own book shelves--- HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAH!
Whenever it's under fifteen degrees, the driver side door of my 1994 Jeep Cherokee Sport freezes, and everyone in the school parking lot is treated to the sight of me sliding my butt onto the glove compartment, spinning my torso, and then ejecting myself out the passenger side door.
Good news for my property values: New Jersey Monthly just came out with it's top one hundred high schools in New Jersey, and Highland Park is number 31 in the state and number 1 in Middlesex County; only the gods know how they frakkin' determined this, they claim to have used some kind of complex algorithm, but who cares?
Yesterday, I got some kind of virus on my computer-- it did something weird to the blog and it made it impossible to surf the internet (every time I tried to navigate to a page it would take me to a used car site or something equally as ridiculous) and I spent five hours following some directions I found on a tech site, editing the registry, deleting random files, uninstalling things, etc. but the only option is reformatting; I think I'm going to get an iMac.
I defeated the premise of sociologist Dalton Conley's new book Elsewhere USA: how we got from the company man, family dinners, and the affluent society to the home office, blackberry moms, and economic anxiety, he illustrates the economic "red shift" in America, how for the first time in our history (and maybe the history of the world) people who make more money also work more hours, and how they are usually married to someone else who makes more money and works more hours, thus the divide between rich and poor is growing quicker than ever, and if you are in the "top half" than though you are doing materially better than anyone at any time in history, it still appears as if the other people in the top half are moving away from you in economic class, because now we have the ability to work all the time (home office, Blackberry, cell phone, outsourcing around the clock, etc.) and those of us who are making money realize that all our time is billable and valuable, and so we become fragmented, and we pass this "weisure" ethic on to our kids, and the result is we can rarely focus ourselves for a long enough time away from work, technology, social networking, etc. to read an entire book in one day unless you are a teacher and it is exam period, which I love, because you get a duty where you are sentenced to guard a hall for several hours, and then you have to sit in a room and proctor an exam, and then the school day is over-- so it's an excellent time for total reading focus, in fact, several years ago this is how I got deep into War and Peace . . . but the only problem was that when people walked by me in the hall, and saw the giant book I was reading, they jokingly asked, "What are you reading? War and Peace?" and I would have to say, very apologetically "uh, yes, it's really good, actually" and show them the cover . . . but they would still look at me like I was a big asshole, because who goes around reading War and Peace when you can update your Ebay and your Facebook and your stock portfolio and your tutoring schedule and your kid's activities from a cell-phone or an I-touch, unless you're some kind of deviant miscreant up to no good?
So I'm at gymnastics, and Alex's class has begun, but Ian's class doesn't start for another ten minutes and so he's playing on the mat and the balance beam and this other little kid (who is going to have an Earnest Hemingway complex, he wears long braided blond hair and Ian always calls him a girl) spits a big loogey onto the mat and his mom, a butch Rutgers psychology professor who was busy grading her blue books, tells him that it's rude and she would prefer him not to spit, but she doesn't wipe it up-- and it's right on the mat where everybody walks, not in the corner or something, and it's not like this is a kid's play gym or something, there's college and high school gymnasts walking around as well-- and I'm sitting there hating the fact that I care about these things now, but I'm also thinking that if my barefoot kid steps in your kid's spit, I'm going to punch you in the face-- and if I had any balls I would have went to the bathroom and got a paper towel and wiped it up but instead when Ian said, "That kid spit there" I said, "Yeah, that's gross-- don't step in it" and I'm wondering if I'm going insane now that I'm a parent, but isn't it common courtesy to wipe up any bodily fluids your kid produces?
Yesterday I wrote a lame sentence, and this is what Eric commented: "I usually wait until they make a movie about the Nobel or Pulitzer winner, then, if the actor playing the role the Pulitzer or Nobel winner is worthy of acclaim, and only then, do I consider them noteworthy, and commit them to memory, like when Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford won the Pulitzer," which I think is really funny (and also saves me from having to write my own original sentence today, which is important to me-- not to do any good work on the day after the Super Bowl, because I want to contribute to the country-wide post-Super Bowl malaise in hopes that someday the NFL, in the interest of national productivity and for the good of the economy, will move the damn thing to Saturday.)
What Facebook needs (I'm not sure why I am prescribing this, since I don't have an account) is a list of enemies to complement the list of "friends"-- otherwise, the term "friend" has no meaning, plus, you really know someone when you know they people they hate, and, more significantly, the people that hate them; perhaps someone has already thought of this . . . is there a social networking forum that shows both sides of the coin?