Ian has discovered the joy of lying: last week at soccer camp he had five kids (all older than him) searching the playground for a yellow poison arrow frog-- and I had to break it to the kids that Ian might have been fibbing, and that poison arrow frogs are not indigenous to South Brunswick, New Jersey . . . although, oddly enough, later that day Ian did find a big crayfish in the muddy grass on the soccer field, which isn't as anomalous as a poison dart frog in New Jersey, but it's still pretty weird, so who knows, maybe he did see one.
A new Greasetruck song for your listening pleasure: a song about evolution, illustrated with sports metaphors, sung from the point of view of a rural fellow-- and this is both an artistic and technological triumph, as I sing like a choir of angels, and you can hear the song just by pressing play on the widget below . . .
I love this fact and now I've read it twice, so it must be true: the first personal computer was sold by Neiman-Marcus and it was called the Honeywell H316; it was intended for sorting recipes-- this was 1969-- and the thing had built in counter space, cost 10,600 dollars and had no monitor-- just toggle switches, so to categorize your recipes you needed to learn hexadecimal code.
Catherine bought an antique dresser from the town furniture man (although she can't remember how old it is-- so who knows if it's really over a hundred years old . . . and I'll tell you what: if I bought something old I would at least inquire how old, just for conversation's sake) and he refinished it with a two tone marble type finish, tan with deep red fractal streaks and cracks, which looks pretty cool until your child says, "that dresser looks like a person bleeding with so many cuts" and then it looks more like something that belongs in The Amityville Horror (I've included an actual picture of the item, in case anyone wants to purchase it, as I can't really think of it as an inanimate object any longer).
I've finished Robert V. Remini's slightly liberal A Short History of the United States (336 pages short) and I'm working my way (481 pages of 1000!) through Paul Johnson's much longer and slightly conservative A History of the American People, which is fun because it's from a British point of view, but for those of you who don't feel like reading 1300+ pages of American history, I am offering here, for the first time ever, a very special presentation from the people here at The Sentence of Dave . . . that's right, you guessed it, a One Sentence Summary of American History, so without further fanfare, here it is: once upon a time, there was a country filled with natives, but then new natives came and killed the old natives, and then the new natives killed the people who wanted them not to be native and then the new natives killed each other, and then they freed the natives from another place, and then more new natives came and worked hard and got everything organized when the old natives prohibited booze and a whole mess of the natives went overseas to help out and lots of them died and then folks were content for a while but then a bunch of new natives kept on coming but the old new natives didn't like that so much so they built a wall, but it didn't matter so much and then Britney Spears shaved her head.
I think Catherine and I were the last people on earth to see The Hangover, but no one ruined the gags-- and the movie is a rare thing, a comedy that is genuinely funny and also has a great plot, but I must warn you: it is extremely unrealistic, I am not sure if the writer of this movie has ever had a real hangover, it is difficult to make a cup of coffee, let alone drive a stolen police car . . . and (spoilers!) you never hook up with Heather Graham when you're in black-out mode, it's usually someone of lesser quality and greater mass, plus you can't take a punch from Mike Tyson the night after you've tied one on; so I'm thinking of writing a film called A Real Hangover, which will be very low budget and very boring, mainly consisting of a guy who spends a long time in bed, then moves to the couch to watch TV, then finally walks to a convenience store and manages to buy a bottle of ginger-ale, despite having the shakes, drinks it and takes a fitful nap-- who wants to finance it?-- I think all the budget calls for is a lot of beer and camera.
I clearly remember learning about the Boston Massacre in Mr O'Connor's class in junior high-- especially Crispus Attucks-- but I don't remember learning about the trial, and for this alone it is worth watching the HBO John Adams mini-series-- and from what I read on Wikipedia, the show is fairly accurate (although it left out the loop hole Adams used to get the remainder of the Brits out of the murder charge-- if you could read from the Bible, you could get your sentence reduced from murder to manslaughter, and so instead of hanging, you get a branding on your thumb-- a good deal!)
Two things that I'm glad are no longer living on my body: 1) my award winning OBFT mustache -- for a look at it, visit http://gheorghe77.blogspot.com/ and scroll down a couple posts 2) my award winning OBFT jock itch, and it's too late to get a look at that, although I think the guy who cleans our gutters might have seen me applying some spray to the aggravated area, so you could always ask him about it.
I was able to polish off a book and a play on the Outer Banks Fishing Trip XVI: As You Like It by Shakespeare and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick, and despite the obvious differences-- As You Like It is a comedy and a light one (despite banishment, lions and wrestling) with plenty of funny banter, cross dressing, and trans-gender courting and The Three Stigmata is a precursor to The Matrix and Vanilla Sky and eXistenz, only trippier, with more religion and drugs and transcendence-- but they both have one thing in common, whether you're tripping in an eternal hallucination on Chew-Z or hanging out in the forest of Arden, you're doing it to escape the passage of time, the reality of your body and the status to which you are constrained-- and who doesn't want that once in a while?
My friend Rob manages a silk-screening office and I gave him a great suggestion, so let's see if he follows through-- and I thought of this extemporaneously!-- ready? here it is: authentic Plaxico Burress football pants with a bullet wound and blood silk screened right onto the fabric, so you always appear to have just shot yourself in the leg . . . maybe it wasn't such a great idea.
A few Outer Banks Fishing Trip highlights (in no particular order) 1) Bill sings karaoke to a teeny-bopper song he doesn't know the words to while doing a little jig in between the two other members of the karaoke sensation, The Shenanigans 2) games of "corn-hole" on the deck at Mulligan's and repeated use of the verb to "corn-hole" for the entire weekend 3) man vs. paddleboard: I got hit on the head with it, but surprisingly, it didn't kill me 4) Rob's prediction that the long crew at Tortuga's would be driven home by Lacy, which was exactly correct 5) Chris knocking down Jerry's neatly stacked poker chips 6) Dave getting seven bull's-eyes in a row at darts 7) Dave getting seven of eight washers in a row 8) Bruce sleeping on the roof 9) T.J. and his healthy snacks -- the apple 10) Dave winning the mustache contest 11) seeing all the mustaches around the horshoe bar at Tortuga's 12) trying to figure out who people looked like with their mustache 13) Whit coming out of the surf with his hair slicked back and his mustache 14) many other things I can't recall, but thanks again Whit!
Driving and swimming have something in common: for most, once they are adequate, they consider themselves expert, and they never seek instruction for the rest of their days (unless they are forced by the Department of Motor Vehicles . . . but there is no such governing body for poor swimmers).
The Rutgers Swim Club is already a retro-looking place, with a flat roofed blue and white pool shack and a tether-ball court, but when my son Alex started hurling a Track-ball (purchased by a friend at a Kay-Bee Hobby close out sale) with his buddy, I felt like I had been teleported back to my own youth in the '70's.
My father went overboard and bought a fourteen pound lobster, which the man at the fish market said was over a hundred years old-- and it was delicious-- but I can't imagine how stringy and tasteless a hundred year old human would taste, even if you marinated him.
There will come a time-- in a dozen years or so-- when it will be tempting to teaching my students the wrong things, as this will give my own children a better chance at getting into college . . . I'll have the power to make the competition appear stupid; I could tell my students the wrong definitions of difficult words so they bomb the SAT's, I could give them poor advice about their college essay topics (mention the time you committed arson! show them you learned a lesson!) and I could even screw up their sense of time and history . . . this is going to be a difficult ethical dilemma, I hope I make the right choice.
Two successful hikes on the Cape: the first was to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham-- which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore-- and we were rewarded with high sandy cliffs and seals in the water, and the second was to the edge of the spit on Lighthouse beach in Chatham, and again we saw several seals up close and, as a bonus, a kind old man gave us a sand dollar, which Catherine left on the roof of the car . . . we learned this when it fell off as we turned onto Main Street so she made me stop the car and I got to watch her in the rear view mirror as she ran into the intersection to retrieve it, slightly chipped, and I mention this for the rabid fans of The Sentence of Dave, as this incident hearkens back to the very first entry of this blog.
Greasetruck provides seasonal entertainment with "Foam," a smooth ditty about the Jersey Shore-- and note that I effortlessly incorporate THREE urban legends into this nostalgic, sensitive, and romantic song about the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, over and over, harder and faster, wetter and wetter . . . anyway, the funniest thing about the song may be my attempt to sing over the jazzy chords at the start (C#maj7, A#m7, D#m7, G#13 if you want to play along at home) and also note the lovely instrumental interlude and the background vocals-- I believe this is the first time the word "acne" has been sung as a backing vocal.
I totally forgot about the scene in E.T. when E.T. gets drunk on Coors and his brain is connected to Elliot's brain, and so Elliot, who is wasted by proxy, frees the frogs that are about to be dissected in biology class (like they would make sixth graders watch frogs die in a jar!) and then stands on top of the bully and kisses the tall blond girl-- in the 80's movie genre, everyone under the age of 17 was always big trouble.
For the first time ever, I had a beer at the Chatham Bars Inn, which I suppose has the best view in Chatham, but it always seemed too elegant for me, and I certainly didn't feel at home there-- there were cloth hand towels in the bathroom and lots of wood paneling and sitting rooms and old couches-- but Catherine really liked the lotion in the bathroom and one of the girls we were with caught a woman applying it to her legs; I suppose I have to remember that I am thirty nine and no longer look like trouble, but I couldn't get rid of the feeling that I was going to be asked to leave.
Some numbers to remember: 1) it is over 300 miles and takes five hours to drive from Bolton Valley, Vermont to Cape Cod-- I always think it's less, but it is a haul and it seemed like we traveled even further because we went from five days of cold Vermont rain (and a hailstorm) to a crisp sunny New England day 2) it took me 19 minutes and 38 seconds to run from the condo to Hardings Beach, and seeing the kites and the sand and the waves made me remember how odd it is that we possess motor vehicles and can traverse such vast distances in a day 3) I found a razor with only TWO blades in my travel bag, an ancient, misplaced sad razor with an acute case of blade envy, since I usually use a three blade razor and have contemplated the four blade razor, and even though I had no shaving cream and had to use soap, it shaved me cleaner and faster than my Mach III.
Our first bowling trip with the boys, and also with Rob, Tammy, Parker and Baby Dominic, was a success, although the boys refused to use the wooden ramp and instead developed various unorthodox methods of chucking their balls, and Ian got his fingers smashed (of course) and I remembered the satisfaction of throwing a strike and the frustration that accompanies pretty much every other kind of throw.
I've used this blog to reference the titles of books I've read and movies I've watched, but while we were in Vermont last week, for the first time I used this blog to reference my own idea-- which I forgot, but I knew that I had had an idea; my friend Rob turned on the movie I Am Legend and I remembered that the ending was lame, and that I had come up with an alternate ending, but I couldn't remember what it was . . . so I used this blog as my cyborg memory and looked it up . . . 1/25/2009 if you are interested, but I guess eventually, I'll need a digital version of the blog implanted into my brain.
It doesn't take much to scare me, and The Orphanage (El Orfanato) was enough to do the trick . . . it's pretty damn creepy and it also has an excellent plot-- my wife and I were still talking about what happened in the closet the next day-- so I'm giving it nine deformed sack wearing bastard orphan children out of ten.
I was excited to learn the derivation of the phrase "beyond the pale" but no one else was-- my wife and friends had never heard this idiom before-- but perhaps you have, and it comes from when the English were colonizing Ireland-- in th elate 1500's-- there were rules about consorting with the "wild Irish"-- it was generally not allowed, and so the English colonists were not to go "beyond the Pale," a region surrounding Dublin, and into the weirdness that was rural Ireland.
It's frustrating to read Daniel Boyle's book The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How at age thirty nine, when my myelin production is soon to wane, and realize that I could have been whatever I wanted, a cartoonist, a guitarist, a ballerina, if I had only practiced deep enough and long enough-- that there really is no such thing as talent, only perseverance, failure, time, and persistence-- and that if you put in your 10,000 hours practicing the right way, with the right motivation-- you need to be in a situation that keeps telling your brain better get busy, as opposed to "better watch TV" or "better be well rounded"-- then you will be a world class talent, and people will look at you and think you are "gifted"-- so since it's too late for me to truly master anything (and judging by this rambling sentence, I could use 9000 more hours of writing practice) all I can do is start torturing my kids and it's never too soon to start . . . so what do I want them to master?
Now that it's summer, it's time to dig out my roller-blades, and, of course, there's a certain stigma attached to them-- thus the old joke . . . What's the hardest thing about roller-blading? Telling your parents you're gay . . . not that there's anything wrong with being a gay-blader, but I like to look manly in all my endeavors, and so when i presented my dilemma in the English Office, my friend Eric gave me an elegantly simple solution: I'm going to purchase a hockey stick, and whenever I roller-blade, I'm going to carry the hockey stick with me, so it looks like I'm on my way to a roller hockey game, a very macho event . . . and as long as no one ever presses me as to where the game is, the plan is foolproof.
I'm sure there are other dads out there with the same opinion, but they're probably afraid to admit it, so I will be the grouch: I hate bubbles . . . I hate bubble-making paraphernalia, I hate bubble-making liquid, I hate the sticky mess, I hate the way the soap kills the lawn, and I don't even like looking at bubbles very much (and since it's Independence Day, I should also mention that I don't like watching fireworks either).
Sometimes when a relationship is abusive, it's better if it just ends . . . and I've decided I can no longer be friends with Vic Mackey . . . though there were times when I was rooting for him, especially when Forrest Whitaker was hot on his tail, but the final episode of the The Shield reminded me that hanging out with Vic wasn't good for either of us-- it made us both into something worse than we already were.
Along with a sense of accomplishment, there also comes sadness when you finish a long novel: I just finished-- after two tries-- Denis Johnson's Vietnam saga Tree of Smoke and though I'm happy that I'm getting it back to the library on time, I'm going to miss William "Skip" Sands and his rogue Colonel uncle; the novel is certainly Pynchonesque, it has tunnels like V, it investigates information theory-- including propagation, distortion, and chain of command-- and it has an inscrutable quality, like Gravity's Rainbow (but not nearly as difficult and without as many characters) but by the end you understand these people that fell into the cracks of the Vietnam war and want to spend more time with them, 614 pages isn't enough.
During graduation, while they read the seven hundred plus names of the senior class, you are alone with your thoughts . . . mainly, I thought how strange it was that every speaker had a quote from Dr. Seuss in their speech, and that if I ever have to give a graduation speech, I won't quote Dr. Seuss, I will instead quote the Random Idiots song about Dr. Seuss-- you know, the one where the good doctor uses his faux doctorate to open a gynecology clinic and have his way gullible women . . . and that day, of course, will be my last as a teacher.