This Is How They Roll In Watsonville

Apparently, on town-wide garage sale day in Watsonville, PA, it's not only time to sell your old clothes, toys, and furniture, but it's also acceptable to wheel your grill out onto the sidewalk and then cook and sell the old, expired meats from your freezer (but we did get some delicious home-made french fries made by a couple of wheel-chair bound old ladies).

To Spit or Not to Spit

The New Jersey Shakespeare Theater's presentation of Hamlet is fantastic, but it's also a vector for H1N1-- the theater is quite small and no seat is very far from the stage, in fact, we were close enough to see that when you deliver your lines with passion, you spit prodigiously and profusely, and when expectoration is back lit, it's quite impressive and very gross.


It doesn't look like I'm going to be mentally capable of helping Catherine and her co-coach Lauren with Alex and Ian's soccer team, in fact, it might be better off for the children and my sanity if I don't even watch-- I wish I was more flexible, but I think I have some fascist dictator in me.


My Achilles tendon doesn't feel like it's connected to my foot anymore.


My wife calls me "retarded" an awful lot, considering that she's a Special Education teacher.


Although it makes me look very silly, the Breathe Right nose strip is actually making me sleep better during ragweed season . . . and the alternative (dosing myself with NyQuil) isn't really a viable option because it makes me more retarded than normal in the morning.

Nothing Says Welcome Home Like Giant Wasps

I used to consider turning on the porch light after dark a polite gesture, especially if Catherine was still out, as the porch light illuminates the keyhole . . . but I no longer think this, because for the past two weeks, the light has invariably attracted one to three giant wasps-- which hover, buzz, and stupidly bump into the light and the door-- and if I'm feeling brave then I swat and kill them, but they always miraculously regenerate by the next evening; and though I am loath to admit it, when I got home from the pub last Thursday night, they looked so menacing that I took the coward's way out, and elected to avoid them completely; I entered my house through the side door, rather than fight my way through them.


After a discussion about food in general (including Michael Pollan and Big Corn) and oranges in particular-- my grandmother told us that back in the day she would receive an orange in her Christmas stocking-- and some gluttonous eating (Cannoli!) I had a most peculiar dream . . . a dream where oranges fell from the sky and then . . . attacked.


You will meet an old friend, who is now involved in international espionage, and you will become entangled in a byzantine plot with this old friend, and the outcome of this plot will determine the fate of our country and the entire Western Hemisphere, but your old friend will in no way indicate that you are involved in said plot, and you will never find out-- not even on your death bed . . . not even in the afterlife-- how your actions influenced the fate of the world or what involvement you had in the plot, and your old friend will never mention this again for the rest of his/her life.

Don Draper Needs To Use His Words

A combination of allergies, teaching a full week of school, and soccer try-outs made me lose my voice, so Saturday morning I felt like Donald Draper, roaming the house silently while my wife scolded the children for their various infractions (but I certainly didn't look anything like him).


Though Katherine Howe's novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is about witchcraft, it is the opposite of a Harry Potter tale, as it moves at the pace of a research paper-- which isn't surprising, considering Howe is getting her PhD. in American Studies at Harvard; Howe is a direct descendant of Elizabeth Proctor, and the novel flashes from the 1692 witch trials to the present . . . and while it was a little slow, it was detailed and authentic, and I especially liked her essay at the end explaing the veracity of her historical references: I give it seven mandrake roots out of ten.


The other morning, while I was filling my water bottle at the water fountain, a little sophomore boy walked past, but then I saw his head turn and he said-- with the sincerity and enthusiasm of someone striking oil-- "OOO! Water!" and he attached his face to the shorter fountain and started sucking, this was so pronounced that it was altering the water pressure in my fountain, thus making the pressure of the stream inconsistent, and so I was having a hard time getting the stream of water into the neck of my water bottle, plus I was so absorbed (and disturbed . . . this kid was literally licking the metal) that it was hard to concentrate-- I was wondering if anyone had put their mouth to the taller fountain in the same fashion, but before I was grossed out enough to say something, he popped up, sated, and vanished.

It's Hard to Say Go-Gurt With A Straight Face

It's hard to look like a bad ass when you're eating a frozen Go-Gurt, especially because it means you took the time to think ahead-- that you knew in the past that you wanted to eat a frozen Go-Gurt and so you took your child's snack and put it in the freezer for your own consumption . . .  because there's never a frozen Go-Gurt in the freezer when you crave one and it takes overnight for them to freeze, and then you usually forget to eat them and your kids eat them and then you really sound like a wiener, when you say, "Hey! Who took my frozen Go-Gurt!"


Finally watched Quentin Tarantino's B Movie parody/homage Deathproof: I can't say that I loved it, although Kurt Russell is entertaining and there are some good stunts, but the dialogue is closer to bad Kevin Smith than bad Tarantino, and bad Tarantino is better than bad Kevin Smith . . . but is good Kevin Smith better than good Tarantino?-- who knows, but the film does have a great 70's look, except for random anachronisms: texting, cell phones, an Ipod-- I'm not sure what's going on with these . . . I'll give the movie 300 horsepower out of a possible 425.

New Song! Dear Ozzy . . .

For several years, my friend Whitney and I have been pursuing the great white whale of novelty songs, an epic entirely composed of lyrics from other songs, and the premise is this: someone (or a group of people) actually listened to what was being said in the songs and followed the advice as if it were gospel . . . and of course, bad things result . . . and this is the result of several recording sessions, with Whitney, and a number of teachers and friends who I will allow to remain nameless unless they want to chime in on the comments . . . you can play the song on the widget to the left (it's called Dear Ozzy (Thanks for Nothing) or --even better yet, you can head over to and read Whitney's introduction and the lyrics and an "answer key" of all the bands mentioned-- but first you should try to identify them yourself . . . the version on the internet is very lo-fi, but if anyone wants a better copy, e-mail me.


So yesterday I ran a few miles before soccer practice started, and then I ran quite a bit at practice-- I do all the sprints and running to inspire my players (beat the fat man!)-- and then when I got home, Alex wanted to use his new (used) cleats, so I went out and played some soccer with him and Ian, and then I showered, ate a piece of pizza, had a bathroom issue, probably due to the amount of time I spent running around in the heat, and then I went to the youth soccer coaching meeting . . . I was Catherine's proxy, as she is officially going to be the coach, but she had back to school night so she couldn't make it, and I figured they would be going over the rules and procedures and practice schedule, but it turned out to be a coaching clinic as well, and the ageless guy who's been running soccer camps for forty years (Spencer Rockman) was running the show, and apparently we were going to do drills and play soccer for two hours and then have the meeting-- so I had to run home, change out of my crocs, and play several more hours of soccer (and though I should have taken it easy, I couldn't-- once you start running around after a ball, it's hard to stop) so by the time I got home, after nine, I had been playing soccer and running for something like five hours, and I'm worried that at some point today while I'm teaching, I'm going to fall asleep mid-sentence.


The vocabulary of the recession is creeping into the students' lexicon: last week in my senior writing class, a girl complained that she was in a "toxic relationship."


In this rather surreal picture Alex drew of our family (sans himself) he portrayed his younger brother Ian as a many armed cyclops, which made Ian upset, but Alex-- always the diplomat-- smoothed things over by telling him "your one eye can find things in the dark and having a hundred arms is great, you can do many things at once, you can play with Legos and draw a picture and play soccer all at the same time."


Never underestimate the Super Powers that your children attribute to you: I was describing my abortive trip to the East Brunswick Library to my family-- I arrived mid fire-drill so I couldn't enter, a woman needed me to jump her car, and then I dropped my school folder into the book drop slot along with my pile of books so I had to seek aid from a librarian-- but when I described how I had to jump this woman's car, my son Alex thought I jumped her car-- which actually makes more sense, and I asked him if he thought I jumped her car with my car, or if I did it with my legs; he said he thought that I did it with my legs, and I was quite pleased that he thought I was capable of such a super-human feat.


Some members of my family have remarked that my policy on allowable television viewing is similar to that of a communist dictator's stinginess when doling out toilet paper, and so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when my exceedingly honest son said that he didn't watch the Obama Education speech when they showed it in the school cafeteria-- instead he chatted with his friend, so that he wouldn't "use up all his video watching and he could still watch some at night."


Absence does make the heart grow fonder: you'd never suspect, seeing our happy family eat Chinese food, that just days before we were close to entering a violent no holds barred death match in our house . . . but all we needed was some time apart, once we all went our separate ways in the morning, to our separate classrooms, we found newfound love for one another when we got home.

One Pill Makes You Larger . . . and One Pill Makes You Italian

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small-- and according to Steve Silberman in his article in this month's Wired magazine-- it doesn't matter if the pills are made of sugar, as placebos are consistently vying with mood enhancing drugs in effectiveness, as long as they are administered by a caring physician, and even the color of the placebo has an effect: yellow sugar pills are the best anti-depressants, red pills are the best stimulant, green pills reduce anxiety, and blue pills make a good tranquilizer . . . unless you are Italian-- why?-- because Italians associate the color blue with vigor and athleticism, as their national soccer team is the Forza Azzurri.


Something overheard in New Brunswick the other night: "we were so shit-housed, I can't believe we built the entire gazebo . . . and we started at like ten at night!"-- I note this for two reasons 1) I've never heard the words "shit-housed" and "gazebo" in the same sentence 2) gazebo is on my short list of least favorite words, along with "bonanza" and "jubilee."

Amish Market Etiquette

I was sternly reprimanded by a customer at the Amish Market last Saturday, and I probably deserved it . . . but you would have done the same thing, I swear; my wife and I were trying to browse Beiler Dairy Farm's selection of delicious fresh cheeses, but the boys were running amok and I was a little hung-over and not thinking totally straight, and there were all these little sample containers full of cubes of different kinds of cheese-- farm cheese, smoked Gouda, goat's milk cheese, and horseradish cheddar . . . and when I read the words "horseradish cheddar," naturally, without thinking, I reached out and grabbed a cube and popped it in my mouth, and then went back to tending to my kids, but an older guy behind me noticed my breach of etiquette and said, "That's what the toothpicks are for!" and grunted and stomped off, and after a bit of looking, Catherine and I found the toothpicks, intended for spearing cheese cubes, but they were NOT prominently displayed and Catherine said that the last time she was there she grabbed a couple cubes for the kids with her fingers, so I'm thinking the proponent of toothpicks over-reacted a bit-- it's not like I double dipped a chip . . . and anyway, if you're eating any kind of publicly displayed sample food, you're playing Russian roulette with your immune system and you should know that and accept it.


Neill Blomkamp's new movie District 9 should be a TV show: like the new Battlestar Galactica, the movie uses sci-fi to explore politics, bureaucracy, racism, and the character of someone thrust into a leadership position (but Wikus van der Merwe is no Laura Roslyn, he's pretty much a chipper bumbling idiot) and the first forty-five minutes are awesome-- tense, satirical, and like City of God in their gritty depiction of a shanty town, but then the movie has to end, and it becomes a Hollywood action flick . . . but if it were a TV show, instead of a blockbuster movie, then they could have kept going in the same vein, instead of blowing up things for an hour . . . but what can you do-- except write, produce, and direct your own sci-fi movie?--and it is certainly worth seeing so I give it seven cans of cat food out of a possible nine.


Another reason not to pay 100 bucks for a Broadway show: these performers are so polished it's not really live, there's little to no chance of improvisation or sloppiness or a major screw-up . . . in fact, it's closer to watching a video, except without all the comforts of home; would you see a band in concert if they sounded exactly like the album?

This Land is My Land, This Land is Methland

So I started this great book by Nick Reding, Methland: the Death and Life of an American Small Town, right? and it was so gripping that I wanted to just read and read and read, so I went and saw my man and then, it was like I couldn't stop reading, like I was a super-reading machine, like I knew the end of the sentence before I started, like a train, like a rolling stone, like a greased up hog on a luge coated with Vaseline, because the story was so compelling, just wild, the ma and pa labs, the single batchers, the superlabs, the Mexican DTO's, the ephedrine laws, the pseudoephedrine chemistry, the ins and outs of the dealers and the traffickers and the narcs and the informants, it was just great, but then it got a little complicated, and I started to slow down, lose focus, get a little edgy, you know? because it was convoluted . . . the political take on big agriculture, Monsanto and Cargill, the demise of family farms, the socio-cultural underpinnings of doing a drug that essentially makes you feel so good that you WANT to work, whether it's meatpacking or agriculture, and the book, there was something wrong with the pages, too much friction maybe, because when I turned the page it was so LOUD, like talons on a chalkboard, like a dentist's water-pick, like a billion gnats in a megaphone and I couldn't read well anymore and I kept seeing severed heads out of the corner of my eye and then, right when I started to understand the drug lobbyists' complicity in the epidemic, I saw a black helicopter hovering above my house . . . they knew I was getting to the truth and they were ready to pounce on me, so I got under my bed and read with my flashlight and finally, finally, I turned that last page and there were no more pages, just a crazy looking picture of the author, one of those pictures where it looks like he's looking at you no matter where you turn, like that Uncle Sam Poster, and that's when I knew I was done . . . and I give the book one trillion canisters of anhydrous ammonia out of one billion gallons of Coleman lantern fluid.


Alex transmogrified the Sister Sledge chorus "We are family" into a ditty about the long-pig . . . "Eat your family."


If the Tom Arnold story isn't for you, then perhaps you'd prefer his sister Lori's rise and fall . . . I just learned about her in Nick Reding's new book, Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town-- apparently she went from high school drop-out to the nation's most successful meth dealer in several years, buying from enormous amounts of the drug from the Mexican mafia and then building her own super-lab, and laundering her profits with a bar, a car dealership, and fifty-two race horses (plus horse farm, grooms, jockeys, etc.-- hiding drugs in a horse trailer is a great way to smuggle) before it all fell apart and she went to prison.


For two weeks at Sea Isle City, we watched the same odd scene enacted over and over in front of the life guard stand: the same burly blond wild man would emerge from the ocean, perhaps by kayak, perhaps not, run towards the stand and do his signature move, a forward roll/flip (no mean feat for a guy this size) and then he would talk for a moment or two to the cute female lifeguards, but soon enough he would erupt into a dance/karate routine, complete with moves running from the crane to the sprinkler to the spin and hair flick-- and I have to remind you that this is a big guy, shaggy haired and burly-- and he would continue the dance routine for a number of minutes, one time even dancing his way backwards into the ocean until he disappeared . . . and our kids thinks he lives in the ocean (Poseidon's retarded son?) but we can't figure what his story is, but it has been an added amusing bonus for vacation, and I'll miss him if we're at a different beach next year.


After a long day of running, skim-boarding, and beach soccer, I made the mistake of complaining about my bad ankle in front of my wife; she showed no sympathy, played the tiny violin, and wondered sarcastically what she should reply to my complaint . . . maybe something like, "I'm so sorry your ankle hurts, do you want me to rub it for you? You're so brave to continue vacationing while injured" but she was punished for her insouciance, the next day at "Boot Camp" on the beach she sprained her ankle, badly enough that the trainer drove her back to our beach house and made her keep her foot in a bucket of ice water until she nearly screamed and we had to take a trip to the medical clinic in Avalon for an x-ray . . . and though we contemplated gettin one of those giant bubble wheeled wheel chairs to get her down to the beach, instead I gave her a piggy back ride, which was fun on the first three trips, but after the pavement got hot and I had a few beers, it might have been ill advised.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.