7/31/10 A Metaphor for a Large Dead Jellyfish


I followed a link about a "large dead jellyfish" that my friend sent out on Twitter-- I am a sucker for that sort of thing-- and found out that a large Lion's man jellyfish broke apart near a New Hampshire beach and stung nearly one hundred people, but what interested me more than the actual jellyfish was the metaphor that State Park Manager Ken Loughlin used to describe the size of the jellyfish:  he said it was the "size of a turkey platter," which grosses me out, because he's associating a delicious land animal with a giant aquatic sac of poison, and now when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of a giant seething jellyfish on a silver platter and I blame Ken Loughlin for this and I'm sure he's ruined Thanksgiving for everyone else who read that article . . . and so I think he should be fired-- or at least put on probation and have to do a hundred hours of dead jellyfish picking on the New Hampshire beaches.

7/30/10 A Musical Analogy



Brent Mason's instrumental "Hotwired" is the country analogue to Eddie Van Halen's "Eruption."

7/29/10 Ouch!

Last week I used the gift certificate my brother gave me for a massage-- it wasn't at the usual Asian place I go to, instead I went to a girl my brother knew from high school and she hurt me-- it was not relaxing at all-- and I feel like as I've gotten older I've built up a tolerance for deep tissue massage and I sort of pride myself on being able to take some pretty rough body work, but I had to say uncle a couple times to this chick, who was built like a power lifter and liked to stick her elbow deep into recesses in my back and buttocks until I cried like a little girl, and I know in the end it's worth it, after a day of being very sore, but I remember the days of going and getting a nice light oily rub and napping . . . and this sort of reminds me of eating spicy food, it starts as something fun and exotic, you use some hot sauce or order something a bit spicy for variety, but then suddenly your ordering things as hot as they come just to prove you can take it and then it's not about enjoying the food any more, it's about withstanding the pain . . . but I think I'll go back to her, she played cool bhangra music while she tortured me.

Spandex: Pros and Cons

These are the pros of wearing spandex under your shorts during a run on the beach: 1) no chafing 2) when you're finished running, you can strip off your shorts and put them high and dry on the sand, iPod and condo keys safely tucked away in the pockets, and jump in the water wearing just the spandex . . . and then you can put your shorts back on for the walk home and enjoy the benefit of #1 . . . and there is only one con but it is a major one, if you happen to be an early riser and you are serenely walking down the beach, collecting shells or watching for porpoises, you might run into a hairy man coming out of the ocean, stuffed into a pair of slightly too small spandex shorts, like a sausage in it casing, and that hairy man would be me . . . sorry . . . but there's no way I'm risking chafing.

Bonus at Gheorghe: The Blog!

I've just created a new Oscar category over at Gheorghe: The Blog . . . if you've got the time, check it out.

7/27/10 An Antagonistic Encounter with a NAVY Seal . . . or maybe not.

After dinner, I was waiting outside a sushi place with a friend when an SUV whipped around the corner of the parking lot and nearly hit a middle-aged guy walking across the road, and the middle aged guy yelled "Asshole!" at the SUV and the driver of the SUV yelled "Suck my dick!" and the middle aged guy yelled "It's too small!" and the driver, a young guy got out and started advancing toward the older guy and my friend Mike said, "Get back in your car" and we did what teachers do-- we positioned ourselves in between the two parties-- and the driver's friend entered the scene now, with an unlit cigarette in his mouth (flipped the wrong way)  and the young guy looked at my friend Mike, who's pretty big, and said, "Where did you guys come from?" and Mike said, "Get back in your car" and then the strange thing happened-- the young driver opened his wallet and flashed a card or something and said, "You're lucky I didn't kick all your asses! I'm a NAVY Seal" and then he jumped back in his car and drove away . . . but he was sort of pear shaped for a young guy and he didn't really look like a Navy SEAL at all . . . and then the middle aged guy, who had walked into the restaurant, poked his head out and said, "Thanks guys" and then the other two guys we were with, who were in the bathroom and missed everything (isn't that always the case?) came outside and we got to tell them the whole story (and I thank Mike for sending me the details for this sentence, because I missed the beginning of the exchange because I was just sort of spacing out).

Bonus Explanation!

I was out late last night and very hungover when I wrote this morning's sentence, so it doesn't make much sense but I've tried to do a better job of it over here-- I apologize for the low quality content I produced this AM . . . but hey, it's not like I'm getting paid for this . . .

A Rock and Roll Coincidence


I won't wax poetically about the inimitable LeCompt, as I've already given them enough praise (I believe I've called them the "best bar band in the universe") but last night, after a frantic and late entrance -- they had already played an afternoon gig in Philly-- they started with a mellow and weird psychedelic set, and while they were playing "Down By the River" I told my cousin that my kids liked this song because they were intrigued as to why the narrator "shot his baby," and I then told my cousin that I had been playing "Space Oddity" to my kids on my guitar because they liked the space theme and then-- and it couldn't have been ten seconds after I said this-- LeCompt launched into an amazing cover of "Space Oddity" . . . which is pretty coincidental, because nobody covers "Space Oddity," but they did it, complete with space vocals and guitar, but I didn't make too much of this very strange coincidence because I once read something by a statistician who pointed out that the very fact that we are alive and process stimuli every second-- which adds up to a million events a month or so- and the fact that we are constantly on the lookout for patterns means that we will discover a one in a million coincidence fairly often, but it is foolish to assign meaning to it because that means we must also assign meaning to all the non-coincidences that happen to us-- all the songs I've mentioned that bands don't suddenly start playing moments later . . . and while this does ruin the fun, it doesn't mean I still can't enjoy the coincidence (and sorry the sentence is late today, but it was a late night).

7/25/10 Everyone is Hot!

Dan Ariely used data from the website Hot or Not to see if people who were "aesthetically challenged" actually had different standards of what was "hot," and he found out that they don't, but that's not important-- what is important is that there is some serious "hotness inflation" on that site, kind of like grade inflation in high school . . . everyone is an "8" . . . and I mean everyone, warts and all, and now I think I'm going to put my photo on there so I can be an "8" too . . . I urge you to go there and see what I'm talking about.

This is Scary

One more idea from The Upside of Irrationality (sorry) that I can't stop thinking about-- this is an explanation of emotions and their influence on decision making, and Ariely explains it like this, we all know that our emotions can have an influence on our short-term decision making, you get stuck in traffic and it makes you irate, so you end up yelling at your kids about making noise in the car . . . but Ariely explains how this can lead to long-term influence . . . because though you usually don't remember your emotions from last week (how did you feel last Wednesday at noon?) you do remember your previous decisions and actions, and you generally think that your own behavior was rational and so you often repeat behaviors that happened in the past (this can be good, as well: you have a good day at work and get flowers for your wife in your ebullient mood, and then the week after, you just get her flowers because you are now the kind of guy who randomly gets his wife flowers-- you don't remember the good emotion that caused the initial decision, you just remember the decision) and so suddenly, because of some ephemeral emotions that you thought were short lived and only put you in a good or bad mood for a few minutes, the way you live your life is altered for good.

7/23/10 A Psychological Tactic

This tactic is from Dan Ariely's new book The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home and it is based upon the psychological fact that people will enjoy something pleasurably more if there is an interruption-- whether it is getting a massage or watching television, a break inserted in there when you are no longer receiving the pleasurable stimulus makes you appreciate it again once the break is over . . . and so TiVo actually makes television watching less pleasurable, because resuming your favorite show after some annoying commercials makes you treasure the show even more-- and so the next time you and your wife/lover/mistress are doing something fun, sitting in a hot-tub drinking beer or relaxing on the beach watching the waves or simply watching TV, offer to get up and get your wife/lover/mistress something they want; this is the beauty of the tactic, you will appear to be unselfish because you've interrupted your pleasant activity to get them another drink or a snack or something, but actually you will be increasing your perception of pleasure because when you get back to the pleasurable activity, you will enjoy it more . . . mwooohahahahah (that is how you phonetically spell an evil laugh . . . I also recommend Ariely's other book, Predictably Irrational).

7/22/10 Ask the Oil Spill

Head over to Gheorghe: The Blog to hear what the BP oil spill has to say for itself . . . you won't regret it.

7/21/10 A Poll About Coffee

My wife wants me to poll ten people and see if they know that Taster's Choice is instant coffee . . . I did NOT know this and the other morning I thought we were out of coffee (we weren't, I just couldn't see it in the fridge) an so I rummaged around and found a canister of Taster's Choice and so I put it into the coffee maker, though the consistency was a little weird, and it made some very very strong coffee and it also formed a thick sludge in the filter and machine . . . a sludge that I imagine is similar to what the shrimp are eating right now in the Gulf . . . and Catherine thinks I should have known that Taster's Choice is instant coffee, which is coffee that disintegrates right into your cup, but I don't watch TV and I've never made instant coffee before and I'm not so sure that everyone in America knows what this stuff is, as my wife claims . . . so any information on the public knowledge of this product is greatly appreciated.

Bonus: Greasetruck Gets A Peaceful Easygoing Ramblin' Feeling!

Check out the new Greasetruck tune and lyrics at Gheorghe: The Blog.

7/20/10 The David Blaine

In their hit "Crank Dat," Soulja Boy introduced me to the "superman," a sexual technique you might like to try with your ho, and now a new hip-hip album has furthered my sexual education and taught me another fun thing you can do to your ho . . . I learned this one from Big Boi's awesome solo effort, "Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty" and the technique is called "The David Blaine" and this is how it works: you are making love to your ho from behind and you get someone from your posse that is similar to you in both physique and looks to somehow swap places with you while you are in the act, without your ho noticing the switch (it probably works better if she is high on the rock) and then you go outside while your body double keeps up the love-making and you bang on the window until your ho notices you and marvels at your magical David Blaine-like powers.

What The $%#$ Is The Matter With Kansas?


In his book What's the Matter With Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, Thomas Frank explains the nifty trick conservative Republicans have pulled off in the reddest of red states . . . and many other places in the mid-West: the poorest people, those most hurt by laissez faire capitalism, those most in need of social services and good public schools and a higher minimum wage and unionization, those that would most benefit from environmental reforms and public parks and regulation of big-business . . . those people happily vote against this time after time because the Republicans have made the elections about authenticity and brand loyalty and morality-- these people are voting for a higher cause, whether it is the anti-abortion crusade or gun rights or small government or home-schooling or the encroachment of "liberal intellectual values" into their square way of life . . . and the beauty of this is that these battles will never be won, and the Republicans have somehow inserted Adam Smith's "invisible hand" into this pantheon revered issues and the great paradox of this is that the very laissez-faire free-wheeling capitalism that the conservatives vote for produces the insipid entertainment culture that they rail against and the more they place themselves in the hands of privatized America, the more they will be offended, insulted, and outraged and the more they will fall into the hands of the very party that does them no good . . . or no good financially, but the point of the book is that sometimes people want to do better morally and emotionally, it might be more valuable to be indignant and poor than content and middle class; there's much more in here but it's a well argued take from an ex-conservative that lives in Kansas, I highly recommend it although it will probably piss you off (if you're a Northeastern liberal . . . if you're a economically disadvantaged red state conservative and you're reading this blog then the universe is a strange place and this book might explain why you have voted against your best interests for the last thirty years).

Malleable Friends


 Adam Elliott's charming but dark (both in color and theme) claymation masterpiece Mary and Max will definitely make you laugh and maybe even make you cry-- though not as much as this movie; it's the story of the oddest of friends, an awkward Australian girl and her accidental pen-pal: an obese New Yorker with Asperger's (voiced by Philip Seymour-Hoffman) and the film has a novelistic sense of time . . . you journey through love, death, betrayal, suicide, alcoholism, neglect, and obsession and though it's all made of clay, you forget that soon enough: five cans of condensed milk out of five.

7/17/10 The New (and Improved) Sherlock Holmes?

Guy Ritchie's new Sherlock Holmes is entertaining as an action movie, and it also works as a super-hero buddy flick (complete with homosexual overtones between Holmes and Watson that rival Batman and Robin's weird relationship) but it fails as a mystery-- the clues are so obscure, obtuse, and fleeting that only Holmes can make sense of them, in rapid fire montages that illustrate his brilliant consciousness . . . so I will give it four pig carcasses out of a possible four, but only one pipe out of ten.

7/16/10 Mapplethorpe meets Reagonomics

Sometimes Adam Smith's "invisible" hand forms a fist and shoves itself where the sun of capitalism never shines.

Wrong Book For The Setting

You probably don't want to be reading Jon Jeter's book Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced the Working People while you are vacationing in Cape Cod, as it isn't exactly beach reading-- the book is about how globalization and the World Bank has created a transnational underclass, and Jeter, the Washington Post bureau chief for South Africa and South America, tells specific tales of Argentinian garbage-pickers, Uruguayan prostitutes, Zambian capitalists (who earn pennies a day), a South African woman fighting to afford newly privatized clean water and electricity, and a Brazilian cab driver working round the clock to feed his family that will make you feel guilty about living in America (even during a recession) and you certainly don't want these stories, facts, and figures in your head when you eat over your aunt's house (a stunning place on the Oyster River in Chatham) and the discussion turns political . . . it's better to stay out of it when more conservative relatives talk about "redistribution of wealth" as if that is an awful, evil thing, because you don't want to sound like an autistic socialist, which is exactly what you'll sound like if you start citing distribution of wealth ratios in various countries . . . in other words, the income for the wealthiest ten percent of the population as compared to the poorest ten percent of the population-- so I wisely kept my mouth shut, but here are the statistics Jeter cites:  in Brazil the wealthiest ten percent make 51 times more than the poorest ten percent, in South Africa the ratio is 33:1, in the United States-- which has the biggest disparity of any developed nation-- it is 15:1, and in socialized Sweden it is 6 to1.

7/14/10 A Warning

It is scary to think you might end up like your parents, but it is even scarier to think that you already are like your parents-- you just don't realize it.

7/13/10 A Literary Analogy

I Read Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night while I was on vacation and I liked it much better than The Great Gatsby, and the best way to explain this is an analogy:  The Great Gatsby is like Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: it is artistic and archetypal and thematic and and lean and memorable and literary . . . Tender is the Night is like Cannery Row: it is ragged and specific and autobiographical in spots and rambling and not as focused-- chronologically or thematically-- and looser and more fun . . . Fitzgerald has time to write lines like "she crossed and recrossed her knees frequently in the manner of tall restless virgins" and though The Great Gatsby and Of Mice and Men will forever be taught in school because they are symbolic and unforgettable, Tender is the Night and Cannery Row are better books, denser and more engaging and easier to get lost in.

I'm Back! And Dumber Than Ever!

I inadvertently made my wife quit caffeine cold turkey on our vacation last week, although she did not know she was quitting . . . here is how it happened: I always get up early and so on vacation I'm in charge of figuring out the foreign coffee maker and making the coffee-- and aside from one small flood-- I was successful, but I didn't realize the green bag of coffee was decaf (for my father, at home we don't have any decaf coffee so I can't make this mistake) and it took Catherine three days of migraine head-aches to figure out my error . . . but in the end I think she'll thank me, because now she knows if she needs to quit, she can do it . . . aside from the head-aches (and if you want a full analysis of our vacation, I've written my first installment of The Battle of the Beaches: The Jersey Shore vs. Cape Cod over on Gheorghe: The Blog).

7/11/10

My brother found it extremely amusing that my father, slightly overwhelmed by the expansive menu at Aroma (a delicious Thai restaurant) asked the waiter this question about the Grilled Duck: "The Grilled Duck?  Is that duck . . . grilled?"

7/10/10

Fooled you again . . . I'm sure I didn't step foot inside the Chatham Library all vacation . . . I'm probably collecting shells with my kids right now on an idyllic beach, drunk, surrounded by bikini clad Swedish volleyball players; I wrote all the sentences ahead of time . . . sorry for my behavior, but tomorrow fresh sentences will begin again.

7/9/10

Just kidding about yesterday's sentence . . . I wrote it at the Chatham Library, a lovely red brick pile set back from main street and framed by huge old oak trees; it is such a charming old building that the internet terminals seem incongruous inside, anachronistic, as if the future invaded the past . . . and the dusty shelves of old books and the ancient maps of the Nantucket Sound on the walls make me yearn for a past time, when information had a physical component, when you had to riffle the pages of a dusty book to learn what you needed, or unroll a map, or pull a newspaper from a wooden spool, or search among cards in a monolithic wooden cabinet . . . but those days are gone, of course, and how long will libraries like this one be necessary?

7/8/10

I am on vacation in Cape Cod right now, and I have no access to a computer . . . so I am writing this sentence with my mind-- I am letting my thoughts flow in binary code and telepathically transmitting them to the internet (along with my Google password . . . trivia question: why is George Costanza's ATM password Bosco?) and the words are appearing right in front of your eyes, or maybe, if things are going according to my plan, you aren't even looking at a screen right now . . . maybe my thoughts are transmitting straight into your brain, and you just think you are looking at a computer monitor or your Blackberry or iPad or iPhone or other tiny device, but you're really not looking at anything at all, and if this is the case, then very very soon, I will be taking over the world, and, luckily, you will be in my monkey-sphere of power and influence, because you are a fan of Sentence of Dave, and so, for you, everything is going to be just fine.

7/6/10

It's sad when you try to take your children to your childhood bait and tackle shop, and in its place you find a new business called NJ Bail Bonds . . . but it does remind me of when I learned what a bail bond is, which is the exact same time everyone my age learned what a bail bond is: right after watching The Bad News Bears when you asked your parents-- what is Chico's Bail Bonds?

7/5/10 The World Cup Causes Me Trouble: A One Sentence Memoir

Though I had an extremely long day of World Cup Imbibing (10 AM to Midnight) the day before Ian's kiddie birthday party, I thought I recovered nicely-- I got up early from Stacey and Ed's place in South Amboy and drove Stacey's stick shift car (not my forte) to Helmetta so I could get my car, and I was still home before 7 AM, and I immediately starting doing whatever my wife asked me to do-- I picked up the cake and balloons and juice boxes and other ingredients, I cleaned the kiddie pool, I straightened the back yard, and I attempted to fill water balloons-- but by the time the party rolled around I was dragging a bit, and I guess I wasn't as involved as I should have been, and mainly I talked to my friend Dom about a new book he was reading that sounded interesting (Flat Broke in the Free Market: How Globalization Fleeced the Working People) but any time Catherine asked for help I helped her and then later in the day when we were at the pool I jokingly mentioned to a friend that I had "failed" at Ian's kiddie party and she said, "Let me guess what happened . . . one of the parents there was a friend of yours that you hadn't talked to in a while and instead of helping your wife, who was running around like a madwoman, you sat and talked to your friend and had to be reminded by your wife to help out," and I said, "That's remarkably accurate, how did you know?" and she said, "Because my husband did the same thing and I said to him, 'Look asshole, if you want to talk to your fucking friend, then you call him up like an adult and you go meet him in a god-damned bar like a grown-up but right now you're going to help me with this party'" and I should mention that this is a friend who rarely uses profanity.

7/4/10



So we put our digital camera on a tripod the other day and made a stop motion Lego movie . . . the plot was very simple:  two cars drove at each other and then crashed, resulting in a pile of Legos, but we were able to screw up every aspect of the film;  there are fingers in several shots, it's choppy, the crash looks awful, the lighting switches because we used the flash on some pictures and not on others, and we were too far away for it to look very good . . . so when you go on  YouTube and watch a decent Lego movie, understand that it took A LOT of skill.

7/3/10

It is 8:30 AM and the boys and I are returning from the park, and Alex is talking a mile a minute about his remote controlled car, and Ian is trailing behind us, saying: "You know what?  You know what?  You know what?" in his high-pitched squawk, and Alex finally takes a breath, so I say to Ian: "What?" and he says, "Boats can explode."

7/2/10


Freedom is when your wife tells you exactly what to do.

A Really LONG Sentence About a Really BIG SHORT


I just finished the new Michael Lewis book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, and I've probably got a three day window to explain what a "synthetic sub-prime mortgage bond-backed C.D.O." is-- but I guarantee no one will ask me this (thus the purpose of the blog) and I can also explain tranches (both senior and mezzanine) and credit default swaps and the corruption in the AAA ratings of these bonds and lots of other good stuff . . . I had to read many paragraphs two or three times, but Lewis intersperses financial analysis with the story of a group of investors that were "in the know" and it's these characters that propel the plot of the book: caustic and gritty insider Steve Eisman-- who was on a mission to get back at all the people who foisted the terrible no-doc sub-prime mortgages on the working poor--and the one eyed medical doctor with Asperger's, Dr. Steve Burry, who became obsessed with sub-prime mortgage bonds and CDO's and actually read the prospectuses and realized that the whole trillion dollar house of cards was bound to collapse, even if the housing market didn't fall, even if it just stopped rising as quickly as it did in the years past, and then there's the "garage band" hedge fund started by Jamie Mai and Charles Hedley to short the housing bond market, and that helps explain just how difficult it is for regular people to invest in the same markets that the big brokerages firms are controlling; I've read a few good books on this theme, including House of Cards and The Black Swan (and also Michael Lewis's last collection of essays Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity) but this new book really explains the exponential nature of this dilemma . . . we all know some wacky mortgages were issued (and some with good intentions, the initial reason for a greater variety of mortgage types was to allow people with weaker credit to purchase homes, in the hopes that they would then be able to save money in the form of real estate) and I think everyone knows now that the bonds that were based on slices of these mortgages failed, but Lewis really gets into how CDO's multiplied these loans exponentially into more and more nested products which only contained more of themselves, and how the ratings agencies saw this as "diversification" even though many of these funds contained pieces of each other and even though they were ALL based on the price of housing (unlike earlier derivatives, which were based on a wide variety of weird loans: credit cards, airplane leases, etc.) and he explained just how opaque this market was, and how "inside" and how difficult it was to even obtain the shorts (the credit default swaps) on these products, and how even after housing prices started to fall and everyone was defaulting on their mortgages, the insurance on these CDO's still didn't sky-rocket in price because the funds were being propped up even though the reality beneath them was caving in-- and it makes you feel really out of the loop as a regular person, even rich people didn't have access to these markets (but we all had access to the information!) and the ending is sad in a way, because everyone involved in the crash walked away with money, even the investors who went long with the sub-prime loans, everyone got paid and the government bailed out the banks and brokerages (except Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers) and though we, the people, couldn't get in on the party, we will pay for the clean-up (at least with the oil spill, though we are paying for the clean-up, we've been in on the party, driving around like lunatics all our life).
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.