Yesterday morning, while waiting on line at the grocery store (it's summer vacation-- now when we're out of eggs, I don't settle for yogurt-- instead I just walk over to the store, get eggs, come home and cook them . . . it's awesome) a toddler toddled up behind me and licked my bare leg-- just above the back of my knee-- and his mother said, "Seth, don't do that, you'll get sick" but she never apologized to me, which I think is pretty rude . . . when my kids do something disgusting to someone, I apologize for them and I make them apologize.
Mayhem in the kiddie pool on Friday: Alex and his friends were racing around playing some violent game, and at one point Alex yelled "I am chaos!" and then Ian spotted a round chunk and told me he thought it might be poop and so we told the lifeguard, who gingerly netted it, and made a positively negative identification as fecal matter, but it didn't matter because ominous clouds were rolling in and we just made it to the car before the downpour.
They had a nice spread of donuts and bagels for us at the year end high school meeting, and among the food was a quiche in a glass dish, so I remarked, "It looks like somebody made this," meaning, of course, that it was home-made food among the store bought stuff, and perhaps I didn't say it eloquently-- I was a little hung-over from the year end party-- but a large curly haired woman looked at me like I was a complete moron, and in a Real Housewives of New Jersey accent, said (sarcastically)"YOU THINK SOMEBODY MADE IT, OH YEAH? YOU THINK SO-- YOU THINK SOMEBODY ACTUALLY MADE THAT, A REAL PERSON! YOU THINK A REAL PERSON ACTUALLY COOKED THAT?" which is a strange way to interact with someone you've never met . . . so I just backed away slowly, the way you do from an angry rhino that is about to charge, so she stopped her string of vitriol towards me and made a remark about me probably being a PE teacher to the PE teacher next to her (and I later confirmed that she didn't know this woman either).
My four year old son's refusal to use worms as bait "because they are good for the soil and they're alive" has made me take a closer look at my own beliefs; worms are good for the soil and they are alive-- and maybe we shouldn't use them for a recreational pursuit that involves torturing a fish-- unless, of course, we're going to eat the fish . . . but that's a whole other issue: we still haven't eaten anything that we've caught yet and I'm not sure how Ian is going to react to that can of worms.
Greasetruck''s new song, "The Bear," is an incredible musical accomplishment because not only is it the greatest rock song of all time, it is also-- simultaneously-- the greatest parody of a rock song of all time, and thus, it is impervious to all criticism -- anything you think is super great, is super great, and anything you think is totally stupid, is actually intended to be humorous . . . you see how this works?-- so save your vitriol for the new Coldplay album . . . also, note the use of heavy metal banjo (which is difficult to record, not because of the banjo playing, which is pretty rudimentary, but because it's hard to use the computer keyboard and mouse while wearing banjo finger-picks . . . I doubt Bela Fleck has this problem, but these are the issues that arise for the home recording hobbyist). http://www.myspace.com/greasetruck
Our anniversary day in New York City started well, but then the Mexicans got their revenge on me: we ate at a great Thai place for lunch (Pam Real Thai on 9th Ave) and saw Avenue Q (which was pretty funny, but, like British writer Geoff Dyer, nothing makes me happier than having no interest in the theater-- I don't have to read reviews, sit in cramped seats, buy tickets, ask people what shows are good, etc.-- so though I laughed, this will be my last play for a long long long time, and even though the songs were funny and satirical, they sounded too much like what they were satirizing, that slick forgettable Broadway sound . . . but the Bad Idea Bears made me laugh) and then the rest of our day was full of lessons; we walked fifty blocks up to the Guggenheim to see the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, but we wanted to wait until 5:45 because then it's "pay what you want" so we had a few minutes to kill, but up by the Guggenheim there are no bars just very fancy restaurants, very fancy children's clothing stores, and apartments . . . then we learned that a LOT of people want to cheap out and pay four dollars to get in the Guggenheim, so we abandoned the gigantic line to catch the train to Newark to eat at what was supposed to be a great authentic Mexican page and we got off the express train home to walk to it in Newark and though I had read recent reviews and the place has a web page, it was boarded up and CLOSED--el restaurante está cerrado-- and I am sure that this is now a Mexican curse and conspiracy (avid readers will remember a similar dilemma several weeks ago) and so for our anniversary dinner we got take-out from "Hansel and Griddle" in New Brunswick, took it home, and watched The Shield . . . but we didn't feel so bad about our foiled plans because we got to listen to a great cell phone conversation between a bitter middle aged balding dude and his mother: one son just got arrested on five counts of burgarly and he was mad because his ex-wife was "protecting the kid with a lawyer when he needed to be punished, to be sent to boot camp, mom" and his other son just got his second violation for underage drinking and now his ex-wife wanted him back in the picture to control his sons, who he feared might hurt the wife and had "lunged at her" but he had to move to Houston to a radio station there, because his time at CBS was coming to a close and he couldn't handle the four hour commute-- so like we learned from Avenue Q, sometimes a little shadenfreude is a good thing.
I'm finally getting deep into the shit of Denis Johnson's Vietnam novel Tree of Smoke, and along the way I ran across a fantastic sentence about bowling, the best sentence about bowling that I've ever read-- so good, in fact, that it almost makes me want to go bowling, but not quite, because bowling is only fun for three frames, then it gets painfully boring-- and so, without further fanfare, here is the superb bowling sentence: "Skip had never bowled, never before this moment even observed . . . the appeal was obvious, the cleanly geometry, the assurances of physical ballistics, the organic richness of the wooden lanes and the mute servitude of the machines that raised the pins and swept away the fallen, above all the powerlessness and suspense, the ball held, the ball directed, the ball traveling away like a son, beyond hope of influence."
Wednesday was not so great for fishing-- we caught one measly sunfish-- but it was a great day for snaking, perhaps because it was sunny but also chilly, so the snakes were out but too sluggish to react quickly, I had to usher most of them out of our way with the fishing rod; during our two hour hike along the Raritan canal we saw five serpents: two black racers, a fat water snake and a slender one, and a garter snake; Ian spotted the largest one curled in a knot on in the grass on the side of the path, and for the rest of the hike he kept proudly asking, "Was that good looking? Was that super good looking?"
Surfwise, a documentary chronicling the gnarly exploits of the Paskowitz family, takes a predictable turn-- Dr. Paskowitz gives up his straight life as the head of a Hawaiian medical board and gets in a tiny RV with his amenable wife and nine children (8 of them boys) so that they can live to surf-- but he doesn't enroll his kids in school or feed them very much . . . or clothe them very much, though he is a rigorous disciplinarian: all children must surf every day!-- and though at first their life seems transcendent, it turns out (surprise?) not quite as fun as it seems on the surface.
You can only fake it so much: on three consecutive days, Catherine has shared the same piece of confidential information with me-- each time starting, "Don't tell my mother, but . . ." and each time as sincere as the last-- but by the third time, she could tell by my face that she was repeating herself.
There goes our platinum credit rating: apparently a 0.0 APR credit card doesn't mean you don't have any payments, there is still a minimum payment of 20 dollars a month (unlike a credit card form Home Depot or Sears) and if you miss these because you only wanted to use the card for one purchase and once you made said purchase, you tossed the card and the statements into a file folder in the desk without reading them, then the credit card company will hit you with a late fee and screw with the interest rate; I straightened this out on the phone (and I tried to plead my case but, oddly, the bank doesn't buy this excuse: "How was I supposed to know I owed twenty dollars-- I didn't read the statement!") and when I explained to my wife what happened, she thought I was blaming her, but, of course, it was my own fault for not understanding the difference between zero percent interest and zero payments-- so I apologized for insinuating that it was in any way, shape or form her fault, but then in a surprising turn of events (and if you know my wife, this is especially surprising) she decided it was her fault . . . because she trusted me to do something on my own without her expert assistance, without checking my handiwork, and she should have predicted this and NOT trusted me-- and though I'm angry about paying the 39 dollar late fee, it might be worth it, because now I think I've proven myself so incompetent in so many areas that nothing is ever going to be my fault again: because I'm retarded.
I hate it when I pile seventy copies of Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man onto my wheeled chair so I can roll it down the hall, into the elevator and up to the book room, only to find that I've neatly and carefully stacked the books onto my regular desk chair-- which does not have wheels.
The day after Ian's chaotic, rainy birthday party, I got the award for worst neighbor on the block-- but what could I do?-- I had to return the bouncy castle to the sketchy amusement place I rented it from so I could get my 100 dollar deposit back, and it was soaking wet from the rain: so I inflated it at seven in the morning (and the generator makes quite a bit of noise) and then tried to dry it with the leaf blower (which makes even more noise) and then the boys got inside and bounced around with some towels, but it was still wet, heavy, and really hard roll up and get back into the Jeep . . . I'm sure my neighbors were quite pleased when I drove away.
Technology has ruined us: on our camping trip, Alex, Ian and I sat and meditatively watched the fire transform from a smoldering pile of wood to a steady rapid blaze; just as the flames became hypnotic, Alex commented, "It's burning fast now, it looks like . . . it's like when you fast forward through the previews on a DVD."
While I was pushing my kids in the stroller, they independently developed the "I Crush Your Head" game-- made infamous by the Kids in the Hall skit of the crotchety man who sits on the roof adjacent to the hip club and crushes peoples' heads while they wait in line-- and I'm not sure if this means my kids are comedic geniuses or if the Kids in the Hall are juvenile morons . . . but either way, when Alex said, "Your head is flat," it was pretty funny.
Although my sample size is only two, I'm concluding that (despite the current wisdom) depriving your children of TV and video-games actually makes them more violent: instead of crashing digital cars on a screen, my kids crash their big wheels, instead of shooting invaders in a game, they shoot each other, and instead of sitting and concentrating on the screen, they perpetually fight and annoy each other-- but as Ian turns four today, I'm assuming that soon all that will change, and both my children will become civilized, mature citizens (like me).
One thing is for certain: I would make a great detective . . . let me give you an example: on Wednesday, June 10th at 12;55 PM, I walked into the school cafeteria and immediately noticed something odd-- the place reeked of smoked meat-- and so I verified this sensory impression with another teacher, and then, just to be certain, I verified it again with a student; all agreed, the cafeteria smelled like someone was jerking beef; then, out of the blue, just minutes later, my mind, the steel trap that it is, solved the case-- I remembered that earlier in the day, in fact, five periods earlier, a student informed me that the ceramic class was doing their annual outdoor firing project, they kiln pots in open fires, and this year they were doing it in a new location, out back behind the cafeteria . . . case closed!
If James Ellroy wrote a history book, it would probably read something like Nixonland: like an Ellroy novel, the book is dense, strategic, tactical and terse-- I highly recommend it, though it's nearly 800 pages and the font is tiny- it took me two months to read it (with many breaks to read lighter stuff along the way) and when I finished, I felt like I needed to start all over again.
Greasetruck is in a prolific period: two songs in as many months; this one is something many of us can relate to . . . I think-- or maybe I've got a problem-- it's titled "I Thought Everybody Was Drinking (but it was only me)" and I went a little overboard with the drums-- if I were to remix it (which I'm not) I would tone them down a bit; discerning listeners will notice that the narrator becomes more inebriated as the song progresses.
Three things I learned later than everyone else on the planet: 1) the Geico lizard is a gecko-- get it? Geico . . . gecko-- I didn't; 2) 9/11 has the same digits as 911, which is the number most people in America call when there is an emergency-- coincidence? who knows, but it never dawned on me; 3) the "re:" that shows up in e-mail headers stands for "regarding," I'm not sure what I thought it stood for, maybe "reply," but mainly I ignored it-- and I just learned this fact last Friday.
Took the boys camping for the weekend while Catherine ran the garage sale and sold all their toys; highlights include seeing the on site wolf reserve, going to the bathroom, seeing the rescued bobcats, going to the bathroom, catching snails and tadpoles, going to the bathroom, hearing the wolves howl at nigh in the tent (which also woke the boys . . . and then they had to go to the bathroom) miniature golf, picking ticks off the boys, learning how a fox gets rid of fleas-- he goes swimming with a stick and submerges himself so the fleas head for higher ground, then releases the stick-- not showering for two days, not brushing our teeth for two days, and not changing my t-shirt for three days: I pulled into the camp on Friday in an East Brunswick soccer t-shirt and left wearing the same shirt-- I don't know what I was thinking, but I only packed one t-shirt (and I'm not sure if wearing it even constitutes packing it . . . but it was kind of cold and rainy when we left, so I packed a heavy shirt but never took it out and instead wore the same shirt from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, when, ironically, I changed out of it to go play soccer, because I didn't want to smell).
So I go to sleep before Catherine-- she's downstairs watching the some reality show-- and the next thing I know there's an intruder coming through our bedroom door-- so I sit bolt upright and yell "Aaahghh" and then the intruder yells "aagh!" and so I yell "aahgh" again but as I'm yelling "aagh" I realize that Catherine isn't next to me in bed, she's the intruder-- and that I must have been have dreaming when she came into the room, and it scared me half to death, my heart was pounding for a half an hour and neither of us slept well, and then I told my classes the next morning and the AP Psychology kids scared me even more: they told me I had REM sleep disorder and, because my muscles don't enter a paralytic state while I'm sleeping, I would probably walk off a cliff or strangle my wife, but I looked it up on-line and I don't have the symptoms-- it seems I just got startled while I was in a hypnagogic state, but I tell you, it was the scariest thing that happened to me since I watched The Devil's Backbone.
A Micturation Mystery: Ian comes out of the house crying and Ian says that he peed in his pants, and when I go inside, I see pee on the carpet and then Catherine traces a trail of pee across the playroom to just outside the bathroom-- so we assume that Ian held it too long and couldn't make it to the bathroom and Catherine goes upstairs to clean him off and help him change-- but when she comes back downstairs she realizes that the bathroom door was LOCKED and Alex has a track record of locking it shut so we revised the solution; Ian tried to make it to the bathroom but found the door locked and then peed his pants coming back outside to tell us, so I put Alex in time out for the time it took me to unscrew the doorknob, but then once I got the bathroom open, there was pee on the carpet INSIDE the bathroom so Ian wasn't locked out, he got in, but he claims he didn't lock the door and Alex thinks he DID lock the door, but that doesn't make sense, because then how did Ian get into the bathroom?
It's an honest mistake, especially if you're fresh off the boat and think that an intense Indian burn to the lower back is good for the kidneys . . . and I suppose "That spot's sore" could sound like "do it stronger," which is what the lady at the Asian massage place heard, so that instead of letting up a bit on my neck, she gave me a Vulcan nerve pinch.
Today is probably as good a day as any to tell you this: this blog is a complete hoax . . . I don't have a wife or any children, I haven't read any of the books I mentioned or seen any of the movies I reviewed, and I didn't bang the back of my hand on a doorknob-- actually, I am holed up in a single bedroom apartment in Milltown, and I have covered all the walls and windows with tin foil, but I'm despite this, I'm going to continue with the blog . . . I hope this doesn't change anything.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree: Alex was reading a Fantastic Four comic book when he noticed that a character in the comic book was reading the very same comic book-- he was so excited that he called me over to see it-- and then we talked about the possibility of a guy inside the little drawing of the comic reading a tinier version of the comic book, and the even tinier guy inside the tiny comic book doing the same thing, ad nauseum; maybe this will blossom into a predilection for meta-fiction like Tristram Shandy and if on a winter's night a traveler . . . maybe he will end up just like his dad, nerdy and well versed in novels that no one else has read.
Certainly one of my most annoying habits is that I am overly competitive, especially when I am drinking-- but what can you do?-- at a recent co-workers party I was DOMINATING at indoor corn hole, poking that sack right in the hole . . . and though I had drank several shots of Yagermeister, they had no effect on my potency, but eventually no one would play me because, like I said, I'm really annoying when I'm drinking and playing games, but still, I WAS really good (and, sorry, but only the Pi Lams will truly appreciate the photo).
Gluttonous incident 328,457: we went for a hike on Saturday morning with the kids at Woodfield Reservation, a reserve a few miles west of Princeton, and the sole reason we went hiking there is so that we could eat lunch at Tortuga's Mexican Village, the best Mexican place around-- but after a long overgrown buggy hike (and I was praying Catherine didn't get poison ivy again, she's just getting over a nasty case of it) where we had to lure the kids out of the woods with the promise of ice cream . . . they walked for over 2 1/2 hours, partly because we got lost, but we did see a big rock, Tent Rock, but it just seemed big because it had a name and because the rest of the hike was comprised of hacking our way through shrubbery, so after all this we get to the Mexican Place and it is CLOSED for lunch, and we knew it was closed for lunch on Sundays but now it is closed for lunch on Saturdays as well and we were very angry and sweaty and hungry but we remembered a little Mexican place on Route 27 on the way home so we stopped there, and in my rage I decided to exact my revenge on Tortuga's Mexican Village by eating an insane amount of food at Casa de Tortilla, which made logical sense to me at the time but makes absolutely no sense now because Tortuga's doesn't even know I cheated on them with the lesser Mexican place because they were closed and unless I write them a letter or they read this blog, they're never going to find out (although I must say, Casa de Tortilla was quite good, especially the grilled shrimp tacos and the chicken quesadilla, which was in soft bread instead of a tortilla . . . I also had a chicken taco and a ground beef taco and black beans and a side of guacomole and a shitload of chips).