6/30/10 Portugal vs. Spain: A Riotously Good Time in Newark

A single sentence can't do our soccer pilgrimage to Newark justice,  so head over to Gheorghe:The Blog to read my photo essay about our trip:  I promise you drama, tension, a celebrity sighting, crack, riots, technology, and a flaming sausage.


Though I doubted their skinny bodies could remain buoyant for a full length of the Rutgers pool, both my boys proved me wrong and passed their deep water tests last week-- so now they have complete freedom in the pool and are allowed to jump off the diving board-- which Ian did seventy or eighty times in a row, including a few "360's" . . . a term which he learned from another boy while in line, so it's going to be a more pleasant summer than the last one, when the boys could swim, but not so well, so they always looked like they were on the verge of drowning, which makes it really hard to look away from them and at the page of whatever book you are reading (and I have banned them from the kiddie pool, which they like to fool around in when they get cold in the big pool, because they are now big enough to be considered the annoying kids who the parents of actual toddlers hate because they fear for their toddlers lives when the big kids invade the kiddie pool, and this is nice as well, because now I don't have to look for them in two bodies of water, only one).

Hose of Plenty

It has been pointed out that perhaps Americans have TOO much of everything; that there is such a thing as too much "plenty" in the "land of plenty," and that all this choice and plenty doesn't necessarily lead to happiness-- we never make the top ten in any of the "happiest countries" surveys, though impoverished places like Guatemala and Nigeria are always high on the list, and even Mexico-- while in the midst of a violent drug cartel war-- was ranked as the second happiest place in the world in a University of Michigan study-- and nowhere is this paradox of plenty leading to misery more evident than on the nozzle of my garden hose, as there are NINE settings, count them: 1) fan 2) cone 3) shower 4) center 5) jet 6) mist 7) soaker 8) flat 9) angle . . . and no matter which one I use my shorts always get soaked and there is no difference between angle and cone and fan . . . and "soaker" should just be called "leaking" and I am sure that in El Salvador (another happy country) they just put their thumb over the end of the hose to control the spray.

Likeable But Forgettable

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is cute and funny, and the "graphic nudity" at the start and finish of the movie-- that's the explanation next to the R rating-- made me laugh and made sense (which is rare for graphic nudity) but the film never really pushes the premise (that it's hard to get over the love of your life when you are vacationing at the same resort as her, and she's there with an ultra-cool rock star . . . and you are there all alone) and I am afraid-- though I love Judd Apatow and crew-- that Forgetting Sarah Marshall will be rather easy to forget.


I was listening a rockabilly program on Princeton college radio (WPRB) and the DJ was playing classic stuff by Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran and Bill Haley, but then he played "Rock This Town" by The Stray Cats-- which is in some ways indiscernible from the other, older music-- though it is from 1982 . . . and my post-modern dilemma is this:  "Rock This Town," which I consider somehow disingenuous and satirical because it is from my youth, a period of punk-rock, synth-pop, and Men Without Hats-- and though The Stray Cats made great music, there was an element of parody in their dress, their musical style and their lyrics . . . but they sounded like they were from the '50's, and now the song is so old (and regarded as one of the 500 most important songs of all time by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) that it has become classic, so "classic" that the DJ didn't point out the difference between "Rock this Town" and the other "authentic" songs he was playing, and I know this shouldn't bother me and maybe it's because it makes me feel old, that I can make the distinction between an eighties band and real rockabilly and it's so far in the past that no one else seems to know or care . . . but it is scary that the eighties are the same amount of years from the fifties as they are from the present.

Keeping It Yogi

Here's a real quotation said by a real administrator at our end of the year meeting, I think it does Yogi Berra proud: In order for things to happen, a lot of things have to get done (and this is so much better than my bogus Yogi Berra quotation but not nearly as good as my sincere apology for my phony Yogi Berra quotation).

Free Thesis

This sentence might end up being an essay over at Gheorghe: The Blog some day, but for now it is just a thesis that anyone is free to steal: sports have "sweet spots" of entertainment and aesthetic value, and once the players get too big or too skilled, it's no longer much fun to watch-- college basketball is excellent viewing, there's lots of strategy and different ways to move the ball around and manufacture points, but once you get to the NBA, the best is method is the most boring one-- it's not worth passing too much when your athletes are so big and so quick and so strong and can shoot from so far away . . . women's tennis is fun to watch because of the extended rallies but men's tennis is a bore because the points are over so quickly-- and I appreciate the fact that they can serve 140 million miles an hour, it's just not fun to watch . . . high school football isn't so great, college is good, and the pros are fantastic because it's the highest level of warfare possible . . . major league baseball is the only level even tolerable for most people . . . and nothing is more aesthetically pleasing than the World Cup . . . especially when the US team makes you really, really, really earn your entertainment (and nothing was more absurd than seven grown men and one grown woman jumping up and down screaming and high-fiving over the Donovan goal yesterday . . . it might actually require slightly more energy to watch the US team play than it does to actually play on the US team).


I don't swerve when squirrels run out in front of my car;  I don't go out of my way to hit squirrels, nor do I accelerate, but I also make no attempt to NOT hit squirrels (perhaps this is because of my battle with the squirrels in my attic, which fans of this blog might remember).

6/22/10 Wish Me Luck . . . or Hope I Bomb: It's Your Choice.

As a special perk for fans of Sentence of Dave, I have posted the commencement speech that I will deliver later in the day at the Sovereign Bank Arena . . . so you get a sneak preview-- and if you read it and think it's totally stupid and you know my cell phone, please text me a better speech, but I need to have it before 11:30 AM!

6/21/10 It's a Girl!!

I think if my wife and I were to have another child (which we are NOT) and it was a girl, then a pretty name would be Vuvuzela.


I simultaneously read Steve Martin's Born Standing Up and Hampton Sides' Hellhound On His Trail: The Stalking of Martin Luther King Jr. and the International Hunt for His Assassin and though they both focus on America in the late sixties, you wouldn't know it was the same country; Steve Martin lived an odd life you couldn't invent, getting his start at Disneyland doing patter in the magic shops and slowly evolving his act towards the avant-garde while he drifted through the Flower Power era . . . meanwhile, Dr. King was organizing a general revolution among the poor, hoping to bring them all to Washington to camp out and make the rest of the country understand their plight, and he was being stalked by both J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, as well as a shifty man that went by various names, including Eric Galt and James Earl Ray, who-- after assassinating King, led the FBI on a wild hunt that required detective work across the South, in Mexico, Canada, and, finally, London, where he was captured by Scotland Yard's finest (which annoyed J. Edgar Hoover).

6/19/10 The Thousandth Post! $$^%&^ You!

That's right, all you nay-saying *&;(%&*^*&&$#;ers who said I would never &^%^&; keep this up, who said I was too lazy and too stupid and too unfocused to remember to write a sentence every day . . . now I have something to say to you: %*&;^% ^*^ ^;^*&;$$%^# (*&;(*&;)(%&;$# #$%^%$!!!! . . . and if I keep it up for ninety more years, then I'll have written my own personal War and Peace (which by my back of the envelope approximation has 31,000 sentences) so ^&a&^p;%^ you!


So I finally executed this stupid gag at school-- it's rather Andy Kaufmanesque: we started reading an essay on Modernism and then I asked the kids if it would help if they could see a video clip about this topic before they wrote their essay and they said yes (of course) and I agreed with them that sometimes it helps to see what we're reading about, especially if it is about art, and so then I played a video of me reading the exact essay on Modernism that we just read and then I asked them if that helped . . . being able to see it, and they laughed, but next year I want to do this gag once a month, so that just when they think I'd never do it again, I do it again (and I show enough actual video clips that they would forget) so I've got a lot of filming to do . . . I feel like it will work especially well for Hamlet . . . would you like to see this scene? It's a great one to actually see . . . and then I'll play a film of me reading it in a horrible British accent . . . and then I'll use the same accent for A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, because, oddly, my British and Irish accents are identical and they are also very high-pitched, I think the students enjoy my bad accents more than if I could actually do a convincing accent . . . and if you're wondering about the relevance of this tangent, I think it fits into the category of comedy that is also Kaufmanesque.


If you've ever thought about leaving your wife and kids, hitting the road, and crafting a brilliant, ground breaking, and hysterically funny stand-up act, don't bother . . . just read Born Standing Up by Steve Martin; first of all, it takes a LONG time to hone an act . . . Martin divides his eighteen years of stand-up like this: ten years spent learning, four years spent refining, and four years of "wild success," but, ironically, he didn't enjoy the wild success so much because once you achieve this, you're simply robotically repeating your best material to enormous audiences, where you're unable to hear the reactions or connect in any way with the crowd, and you're not working in collaboration with anyone, you're simply going from city to city, day after day to give the people exactly what they want . . . so why do all this lonely, hard work to begin with, when the end result won't be so satisfying? . . . instead just go straight to acting, which is more social and where you have potential for much hotter chicks; as for the book, I give it nine gag arrows out of a possible ten.

6/16/10 It's Number Day!

A sentence with some numbers: when my wife and I went to the Greek place last week for our tenth anniversary, we drank a bottle of wine I bought five years ago in order to save for this occasion (but it was actually seven years old, barbera del monferrato 2003) and it tasted quite good, and then when we got the bill, Catherine told me if I guessed it within a dollar she would give me a back-rub and so I added up what I thought were the prices for the grilled calamari, the chicken gyro plate, and the caper salad, calculated some tax, added a dollar surcharge (which I thought existed but actually didn't exist) and hit the total to the penny: $40.50.

Somebody Better Write This Quickly (Before We Forget About The Gulf Oil Spill and Start Worrying About Some Other Disaster))

I hereby donate this bad science-fiction plot to whomever would like to develop it into a full length novel or movie: the US Government develops a petroleum eating bacteria in order to clean up an oil spill, but the bacteria mutates into an airborne strain and slowly expands around the globe, eating the fuel at filling stations and in individual gas tanks, essentially paralyzing world transportation-- and the bacteria creates propane as a waste product, which is highly flammable, so there are LOTS of explosions and lots of chaos, but one man-- in his home made electric car, with his battery powered fan, and his electric razor, and his electric chair-- will save the earth from complete pandemonium . . . admittedly, it sounds pretty dumb, but it's a better plot than The Human Centipede.

We Don't Know How to Relax

To celebrate our tenth anniversary, Catherine and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia . . . without the kids . . . but we really don't know how to relax, we turned the two days away into an epic, we walked from Penn's Landing to the Art Museum to Fairmont Park to Eastern State Penitentiary to the Italian Market in the South to the Reading Market in the Center to Jim's on South Street for a cheese-steak and then back to the center to McGillin's Pub to watch the soccer game-- you can read my expert analysis here--and  I estimate we walked twelve miles Saturday morning-- before we snagged the last two bar stools in the pub, where we planned to watch the game and then head back to the historical area to nap and have dinner, but the bar visit turned epic as well, because, coincidentally, a student of mine from a decade ago turned out to be the bartender, so we were fronted many drinks and five hours later we were stumbling to our dinner reservation, at an Italian place called La Locanda del Ghiottone . . . the place of the gluttons . . . and when we woke up Sunday morning, it was mildly epic to get home, I do NOT recommend taking the SEPTA to Trenton-- it stops everywhere-- so it took us two and a half hours to get back to New Brunswick, and then we had to clean the house and cook for Ian's fifth birthday-- so we were quickly plunged back into reality.


It's fun to look at Jeff Bridges in Crazyheart, he's a perfect portrait of every grizzled country singer on the planet, but it's not so much fun to hear him sing (like I should talk!) and the plot is predictable and-- aside from one moment of conflict that Catherine called out well before it happened-- rather lacking in impetus . . . it's certainly not a bad movie, but I'm not sure it warrants all the four star reviews it garnered.


I once contemplated legally adding an exclamation point to the end of my name, but at the beach on Saturday I saw a simpler alternative: a rather large girl had a tattoo of a giant "!" on her shoulder-- perhaps I will get a tattoo of a giant semi-colon on mine.

6/11/10 It's Phallus Rubicundus Day Again!

This is a photo I took of what is known as phallus rubicundus, which is a type of stinkhorn fungus, and this obscenity sprouted during the night in our garden, thrusting itself through the moist dark mulch so that anyone who passed by our house could gawk at it-- and it appears to made of the same material as a circus peanut, and, just like a real phallus, after a period of time it deflates into a limp, pink unmotivated mass and doesn't appear threatening at all.


Yesterday, Ian redeemed himself for last week's malicious plumbing mishap . . . it was one of those days you can't even imagine until you have kids, and then when you're in the thick of it, you stay surprisingly calm --unlike when your child purposefully floods your ceiling-- so here is the briefest summary I can muster: I took Ian to the doctor in town yesterday because we noticed a black spot on his eye and though he wasn't complaining or rubbing it, we thought we should get it checked out, and I knew it was trouble when the pediatrician flooded it with a chemical, looked at it under black light, and then instructed us to immediately head to the opthamologist, but, unfortunately, all the doctors were gone from the nearby East Brunswick office, so we had to head to Bridgewater through the snarl of rush hour traffic, and once we got there, I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, and I don't even know where my insurance card is or what my wife's social security number is or whether we have a PPO or a POS or the name of Ian's primary doctor or what Ian's birth weight was or what my cell phone number is or when I was born or my address, so that didn't go so well, and then Ian stoically withstood a battery of eye tests and eye drops and anesthetic rubbed into his eye, and the kind and wonderful doctor was able to swab the chunk of stuff out of his eye with a q-tip because Ian was able to hold very still-- which I'm not sure I would have been able to do-- and she said he must have had a very high tolerance for pain, because most people are extremely agitated if they have anything in their eye, but he had a hunk of wood in it and never complained and if it would have been my older and more dramatic son Alex in the same situation I'm not so sure it would have went so smoothly.


In Creative Writing class we have Show and Tell, usually students read something or tell a story, but occasionally someone will sing or play the guitar, and last week a girl hula hooped in sync to a Lady Gaga song while she transliterated the lyrics into sign language: she is definitely a member of the multi-tasking generation.


Right now I'm suffering from a case of plantar fasciitis, and (based on some half-assed Googling) this might be caused by bare-foot running (which I've been doing for a while now) or it might be cured by barefoot running-- this reminds me of Homer Simpson's maxim about alcohol: "the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."


I'm still on a foreign crime kick: if you want a Scottish crime novel that's reminiscent of Fargo, try Denise Mina's Still Midnight; and we just watched the Kenneth Branagh version of Henning Mankell's novel Sidetracked-- Branagh plays tortured Swedish detective Kurt Wallander and the start of the show is stunning-- you'd never believe something called "rapeseed" could be so beautiful.


There are always three ants in our upstairs bathroom sink, but they aren't the same ants because I kill them every time I use the bathroom, so either they regenerate or else there are an infinite supply of ants somewhere in that bathroom.

I Think Dane Cook Is Funny

The other day in the office, the very funny but slightly obsessive guy who always calls into radio stations and wins tickets every week and then sell them and uses the money to buy authentic Battlestar Galactica paraphernalia on eBay (you have a guy like this in your work place right?) said he had a pair of Dane Cook tickets to sell, and when I expressed interest because my wife and I both think he's funny, I took some flak for liking Dane Cook-- apparently people who think they are hip don't like Dane Cook, they think he is "obvious" and "just in it for the attention" and "not very clever" and since I wasn't all that familiar with him, I had just heard some of his famous bits (car alarm, Kool-Aid guy, public restrooms, etc.) I did some research and listened to his new album (Isolated Incident) and his takes on race, suicide, masturbation, porn, and Obama all made me laugh, so maybe I am obvious, not very clever, and just in it for the attention as well.

A Case of Premeditated Plumbing

I'm not Mother Theresa, but I am proud to say that last night I did not beat, strangle, or kill my youngest child, and you might say, "That's nothing to be proud of!" but let me tell you the whole story:  yesterday morning, our kitchen ceiling started dripping and I discovered that the "S" pipe in our upstairs bathroom was leaking, so we mopped up the water (and Ian helped!)  and considered ourselves lucky that the leak was in plain view and then we instructed the kids not to use that sink-- and it's not even the main upstairs bathroom, it's the bedroom bathroom, so they don't use that sink anyway, and Catherine wisely put a towel over it to remind us not to use it-- now flash to yesterday evening, we're getting ready to go to the school carnival and Alex is drawing on the computer quietly and Ian is roaming around and suddenly the ceiling starts dripping lots of water, way more water than in the morning and I get very upset-- where could it be from?-- but I go upstairs and our bedroom door is open and the bathroom door is open-- and it is a difficult door to open-- and the towel is pulled aside and THE TAP IS RUNNING! . . . because Ian, bored and annoyed because Alex was playing quietly on his own, went upstairs, went into our room, removed the towel, and turned the water on and then came downstairs, didn't say a thing, and just waited to see what would happen . . . and by this time Catherine had left for the carnival (she was a volunteer) and so I had to deal with this alone and I was having serious rage issues and Ian admitted that it was premeditated, that he knew what the result would be and that he was in serious trouble, and-- after I told him that he had "betrayed the family," he was sent to his room and missed the carnival and lost all of his reward marbles and got a stern talking to and I may have kicked a chair, but like I said, there was no beating or strangling of the child, and I'm pretty proud of that, considering he nearly ruined our kitchen ceiling ON PURPOSE . . . just to see what would happen, and I'm getting angry all over again as I write this sentence . . . deep breaths, deep breaths.

6/3/10 (That's Right, Dave Has Been Married for TEN Years!)

Secret Lives of Your Children, Part II: I ran into Ian's pre-K teacher, Mrs. Z, at the grocery store-- she is the sweetest, greatest teacher, and so patient with my stubborn grouch of a son, and she has the kids doing all kinds of hands on projects having to do with science and gardening and cooking, and this is what she said to me about Ian, you can insert the subtext: "You know, Ian is so smart . . . not book smart, and he's compassionate too."


The Secret Life of Your Children, Part I: Alex received a multiple paragraph note from his teacher last week, not only was he fooling around with glue sticks during work time, but he also has a tendency to "forget" his lunchbox in the cafeteria, so then he has to go retrieve it, and Mrs. Y. told us to remind him that he's supposed to use the bathroom in the classroom after lunch, and that he shouldn't be in the hall bathrooms or playing in the hallway . . . essentially what I got from the note is that Alex is driving her crazy, that she's often searching for him, and that he's having his own adventures around the building . . . and so I told him to stop driving his teacher crazy, but it's weird-- I can barely control my kids when they are within ten feet of me, so how am I supposed to get them to behave remotely?
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.