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).
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).
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).
battle with the squirrels in my attic, which fans of this blog might remember).
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
A Wired article called "Chaos Theory" summarizes Nicholas Carr's book The Shallows, which argues that the riot of hyper-linked information on the Internet actually rewires our brain so that we comprehend less, and read in a cursory manner.