I Do Not Heed My Own Advice

Recently, I advised my readers that it is easier to invite everyone, but then, while on vacation at the beach, I neglected to follow this advice, and did not invite a particular guy to Guy's Night Out (and I asked my wife if she mentioned Guy's Night Out to this guy's girl-friend when she was out with her, and my wife said she did NOT mention Guy's Night Out so I thought this was a safe play) but then, in the fashion of Curb Your Enthusiasm, we ran into the uninvited guy and his girl-friend and all their kids while we were waiting in line at Mike's Dock and it was apparent, both by our state of inebriation and the fact that we were without wife and kids, that we were having a Guy's Night Out, and the guy made it clear that he knew we were having a Guy's Night Out and that we should have told him about it, which was pretty awkward, and all I could think of as a reply was, "It was kind of slow to develop," and so in the future I will follow my own advice.

Am I Liable?

I've just walked out of the ocean with my son Ian, and I'm looking up the beach to where my other son Alex is sitting, wrapped in a towel eating a snack . . . and it's low tide, so Alex is a good hundred feet away from me . . . and then, without warning, sand fills the air over my son Alex's head and a micro-burst of wind, some rogue convection cell, crashes through our beach set-up and rips two umbrellas from the ground and whips MY umbrella high up into the air . . . and when I say high up, I mean really high-up . . . it flies over the life guard stand and it continues to go straight up until it's fifty feet in the air and for a moment it hovers and it's like Mary Poppins should be attached, but then it starts to plummet and people are holding their heads and ducking and screaming (Connell said it was like when a dragon swoops down and scares all the townsfolk) and it finally crashes into the ocean-- along with one of our beach towels which also got swept up in this miniature tornado, and they are both less than ten feet from where Ian and I are standing, and so we go retrieve them (but if the umbrella would have impaled someone, I think I would have walked the other way, because I don't want to get jailed for involuntary manslaughter for poor umbrella erection . . . you don't garner much respect with the inmates for that crime) and our beach area was devastated, our belongings were scattered everywhere and Nicky was crying, unhurt but scared, but here is the strange part . . . the burst of wind did absolutely no damage to any of the surrounding beach equipment, just to our little area: weird.

Modern Life: An Aphorism

There is magnificent irony in searching for the best parking spot at the gym.

That Was Easy

I locked myself out last week because I reminded my mother-in-law to be more vigilant about locking the side door that leads to her apartment in the basement . . . there's been a few break-ins in our neighborhood . . . but this was fortuitous and I recommend that you lock yourself out on purpose and then see how long it takes to break into your own home;  it took me three minutes to figure out that if I lifted the screen on the side window, I could then slide up the unlocked window and reach over and flip the dead-bolt on the side door, and thus get in without climbing anything, breaking any windows, or using any fancy equipment (skeleton keys, lasers, glass cutters, plastic explosives, genetically modified super-termites, etc.) so now I have a good idea of how secure my house is . . . and if you're thinking of robbing me now because you want to steal my new skim-board, you'll have to figure out a different way in, because now that window is locked.

You're Telling ME to Wear Sneakers?

So I walk into LA Fitness and the mousy girl working the desk-- if she had handles I could have dead-lifted her-- tells me I can't work out while wearing sandals . . . though I've been working out at LA Fitness for five years now while wearing sandals, as they are convenient foot-wear if you also want to swim or shower after you lift (plus I have a problem getting socks on my feet when it's humid, probably due to their hairiness) but she's insisting that I can't wear an "open toed shoe" while I lift weights, so I ask her about Crocs-- which are not technically open-toed-- and she considers this back-talk and says, "You want support when you work-out, so wear sneakers . . . okay?" and I'm about to get into the whole barefoot running thing and how I DON'T want support when I work out and how I often shoot baskets on their court barefoot, but I decide it's not worth it . . . and, finally, she did allow me on the floor with my sandals . . . but I had to promise that next time I would wear sneakers . . . and now I'm seriously considering getting some of those Vibram Five Fingers minimalist running shoes just to fuck with her.

A Short Review for a Long Movie

Avatar is a Disney movie for adults: thematically simple, visually stunning, full of melodramatic cheesy music which nearly ruins the entire film, and an absurdly happy ending . . . three hammerhead rhinoceros thingies out of a possible four.

Live From Sea Isle City . . . Another Embarrassing Moment in a Long Line of Them

Sunday night we went to see LeCompt, the best bar band in the universe, at the Springfield Inn, the best dive bar in the universe (cash only) and during "Born to Run," Mike LeCompt got on the bar and pointed the microphone at the girls in front of me, ostensibly to get one of them to sing the ONE TWO THREE FOUR, but then I realized he wasn't pointing the microphone at them, he was pointing the microphone at me, and so I took the natural course of action and started backing away, but he was relentless with his pointing, and then Ed gave me a firm push from behind and I stepped up and yelled, "ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!" in my best Bruce voice (which was pretty good because of the amount of drinking we had been doing) and then the girls in front of me high-fived me and twenty minutes later another guy congratulated me on my ability to count to four, and they were all sincere in their accolades, which I found ridiculous and I wanted to tell them that I was half-way through The Recognitions by William Gaddis, one of the densest works of literature known to Western culture and that counting to four wasn't much of an accomplishment, but The Springfield Inn didn't seem like the place to bring this up (and then on the way out, to add further insult, when we complimented LeCompt on another great show . . . they did a fantastic cover of David Bowie's "Starman" . . . LeCompt told me it was okay that I couldn't figure out what to do with the microphone for a while . . . he said, "It's alright man, I have ADD too").

Alex: 1 Dad: 0

While I was in the midst of one of my typical anti-Halloween diatribes, my wife sided with the boys and reminded me that I liked trick-or-treating for candy when I was a kid, and then Alex chimed in-- rather sagaciously for a six year old-- and told me something that I often forget:  "You weren't born a grown-up, Dad."

A Prison Film More Thought Provoking Than The Longest Yard

Jacques Audiard's movie A Prophet makes you work as hard as the Malik-- the Arab the protagonist-- who is thrown in jail at the start of the film and has to commit a brutal murder in order to curry favor with Luciani . . . the Corsican godfather . . . and this killing is as hard for him to execute as it is for the viewer to watch, but, like Michael Corleone of The Godfather and Tom Reagan of Miller's Crossing, Malik "sees all the angles," and though you may not see what he's planning (my wife and I didn't) and Malik certainly isn't going to reveal it-- he's as taciturn as they come-- that is what makes the film great, you are forced to contemplate how you would play all the angles, or at least speculate what tactics Malik has on his mind as he navigates the Corsican nationalists, the Italian mafia, the brotherhood of Muslims, and the various gypsies, lowlifes and drug dealers . . . a must see flick if you don't mind a little violence:  ten cups of instant coffee out of a possible ten.

Feeling Happy? Here's The Cure.

If you're feeling really happy . . . too happy for your own good, then you might want to read the graphic novel Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story: it's a depiction of when the Christian Phalangist massacred Palestinians while they were under the aegis of the Israeli Army . . . Ariel Sharon allegedly knew what was happening but did nothing to stop the slaughter, and the next time I'm feeling a bit too happy I'm going to watch the animated film that Ari Folman and David Polonsky made of this event, but I don't think it will be in the near future.

Summer Can't Last Forever . . . Or Not In My House

I must remember to wake up early . . . I must remember to wake up early . . . because if I don't . . . if I get up when everyone else gets up and I have to immediately start socializing with my family, then I can be a stubborn grouch-- and this also might be a result of a long, hot summer and a lot of "quality time" with my wife and kids-- and so last week while we were packing for a trip to the Philly Zoo, I got in a full blown argument with my wife about which water bottle to bring . . . but now I'm getting up again at 5:30 AM so I can get some alone time every morning before I have to deal with the other people that live in my house, and I'm behaving in a much more civil fashion.

Communication: Második rész

Now that there are so many myriad ways to communicate with fellow humans, you need to know which method each person prefers-- some people only respond to texts, some people will get right back to you on e-mail, there are Facebook people and Skype people and blog folks and chatters and old fashioned phone call people and communication whores who somehow manage everything at once . . . and if you don't know a person's preferred method, you may never communicate with them-- so I guess my question is this:  are texters only communicating with other texters while the old fashioned phone call people are sticking to their own and the Facebook people are partying down over there (unbeknowst to us bloggers) and the technorati are Skyping or doing something even cooler than that, is this causing some sort of communications clique effect . . . are we herding together because of technological choices and only communicating with people of the same type?

Communications Shakedown

Several members of my family have a long history of calling and leaving messages on our answering machine that contain no specific information other than "call me back," and I think this is a strategy to entice my wife and I to call back to find out what the actual message is . . . but we're not falling for it.

I Review a New Apple Product: The iGod Touched

My metamorphosis is complete, I am an Apple convert . . . read my product review of the new iGod Touched over at Gheorghe: The Blog . . . I promise you riches beyond the temporal.

8/17/10 Jeff from Curb is Funny

During a round of golf, Larry's agent Jeff Greene angrily counsels Larry's dopey cousin on how much information you should divulge to your wife:  "I don't tell my wife anything!  I'm at the office right now, not playing golf . . . the only time I tell her I'm playing golf is when I'm with another woman!"

8/16/10 It's Easier to Invite Everyone . . .

Larry David did an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" about the awkwardness of the invitation: Larry can't mention that he's invited to the Greene's dinner party (but of course he does mention it to Marty, who is NOT invited . . . and then Larry gets angry because he's not invited to dinner at a restaurant . . . and his friends are dining on him because he was the one that got Ted Danson the gift certificate, but Larry's friends claim that they didn't invite him because then he would be giving the gift to himself) and this theme manifested itself right in front of me the other night in New Brunswick . . . we were out with a large group of people and one couple revealed they had gotten an invite to someone's beach house (a drunken and late invite, but an invite nonetheless) but no one else had gotten an invite recently-- although one person had gotten the broad promise of a later invite a month before . . . so this was funny enough to discuss, but technology has taken awkwardness to a new and more immediate level . . . everyone started bombarding the non-inviter with texts about the lack of an invitation, until she finally confessed (in text format) that she was a "bad inviter," which leads to my motto of the day:  it's easier to invite everyone, as most people won't be able to make it anyway.

8/15/10 Some Movies Are 3-D!

I took the kids to the 11:05 matinee the other day and it cost twenty seven dollars, which I thought was outrageous, until they handed me a pair of 3-D glasses, and then I realized that Toy Story 3 would be my first 3-D movie (besides some movie with fish I saw many years ago at an Imax theater) and it went beyond all expectations . . . the movie was fantastic, especially the set-up at the Sunnyside Daycare Center (Lotso the Bear is a tough motherfucker and his story, told by Chuckles, a creepy sad clown toy, is priceless) and the metro-sexual Ken jokes are worth the price of admission alone: ten disembodied potato-head eyes out of ten.

Bonus Post at Gheorghe: The Blog

I found an excellent essay about world class athletes at kottke.org and I wrote a response over at G:TB . . . if you have time to read several sentences today, check it out (sorry-- that's a lot of hyper-links).

Sadly, The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

We went camping with old friends in Vermont last weekend and it was like driving to Fall . . . it was COLD at night (low forties) so we were able to do a serious hike with the boys and after some early complaints they performed admirably-- it was the first time we really climbed a steep rocky trail to a peak with them . . . the little summit is called Cantilever Rock and you can scramble out onto a giant boulder with a huge skinny shaft of rock balanced overhead and see all the way to Lake Champlain . . . but just because the boys hiked to the top doesn't mean that they are now self-sufficient or any more mature than they were before the hike; for example, later in the afternoon, I had to stop Alex from barrel rolling down a steep rocky, tree filled hill to what would have been certain death, and while I was mumbling under my breath about his insane choices, my friend Rob said to me, "Just like you at Forsgate," and I had a quick flashback to our last high school golf match,  and what I thought was a fitting farewell: I barrel rolled off the monumental sand trap/cliff on the ninth hole (facing the clubhouse of course) and plunged, whirling away, and several of my team mates followed me (I think, or maybe they didn't) and my coach was very, very angry and embarrassed and I am sure he was mumbling the same sort of things I was mumbling and that was when I was SEVENTEEN years old so it's just going to get worse and I've got to prepare for it.

8/13/10 An Invention Just for You . . . You're Welcome!

I don't do charity work for the homeless or volunteer at the local food pantry, but I do consider this blog and the ideas that I give the on-line universe as my form of community service-- and if you doubt me, let me remind you about conceptual gifts such as this, this, and this-- and so I just came up with a new one, and more power to the person who reads this and follows through with the patenting and production of this invention I am donating to the internet . . . all I want is the ability to say, "You saw it here first" . . . so here it is:  everyone hates putting away laundry-- it's difficult enough to DO the laundry and once you're done there's never any motivation and energy left to actually put away the clothes-- so you make a dresser with laundry basket style drawers, so once you've put your laundry into the baskets, you're done-- you just slide the laundry basket drawers into your dresser and go back to your busy life and once you've worn all the clothes in your drawer, then slide it out, fill it with clothes from the hamper and do some laundry . . . knowing that when it's complete you can put it in your basket and effortlessly slip the drawer shaped basket right into your dresser.

8/12/10 A Comedic Epiphany

This sounds impossible, but my son Ian figured out how to "fart with his neck," as he so eloquently phrased it . . . he raises his shoulders to his ears and creates the suction that is normally generated with the classic "cupped hand under the armpit" fart, but this way he can produce fart sounds when his hands are occupied (and he has found that this only works when the humidity level is over 75%).

A Fishy Meal

A few weeks ago, we were eating cod from Costco-- each fillet is frozen in its own plastic pouch-- when Catherine discovered a long pink worm in her piece, and this skeeved her out so much that she refused eat any of the other pieces of that batch of cod, but though she wouldn't eat the fish herself, she had no problem feeding it to our kids . . . who ate it without a problem . . . and someday, if the internet doesn't implode on itself when the singularity arrives, Alex and Ian will read this and either laugh or decide to seek revenge.

8/10/10 A Horticultural Surprise

It's rare that something actually lives up to its expectations, but my wife's butterfly bush almost always has a butterfly on it.

8/9/10 Nap Etiquette

I waited until the air-conditioning repair guys went to lunch before I took a nap on the couch; it's embarrassing to sleep in the daytime in front of people who are working with their hands.

Huey, Willie, and Bill

The classic novel All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren, is ostensibly the fictionalized story of Huey Long, the amoral populist Louisiana demagogue known as the "kingfish" . . . Warren embodies him in Willie Stark, known to his men as "the boss," and the novel delves deeply into the corrupt politics of the South and into the paradoxical soul of "the boss"-- he wants to do good for the poor, but he's got to get his hands dirty to do so (Stark is also reminiscent of Bill Clinton-- the arc of their ascent and their rhetorical strengths are similar) but really the book is about the narrator, Jack Burden-- he is an advisor to Willie Stark-- and how Jack grapples with the forces of history and slowly moves from believing in a detached deterministic universe (his Great Twitch theory) to finally believing in something larger (and there's also a scene right out of Star Wars: in between the philosophizing and politics, there's quite a bit of melodrama . . . a tour de force and a great read: ten sugar cubes out of ten).

8/7/10 Are You Average?

The average Facebook user has 130 friends . . . but how many of these people would you lend money to . . . or invite to a party at your house . . . or trust to take care of your dog/ gerbil/ kids . . . or allow to drive your car?

8/6/10 Larry David is Funny

Two throwaway bits from the first episode of Season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm that I loved: 1) Larry calls the apricot a "low percentage fruit . . . only one in thirty is any good" 2) Larry is informed that the neighbors have been talking about recent burglaries in the neighborhood, and he is far more paranoid about talking to the neighbors than the robberies . . . "the burglars want your stuff and the neighbors want your time; I'd rather lose my stuff than my time."

8/5/10 A Political Thought Experiment

If we could divide our nation into two, and all the Red State Conservatives lived on one side and the Blue State Liberals lived on the other, and you had to choose where you were going to live and you couldn't switch . . . would you live on the unregulated, low taxation, abortion is illegal, few social services, health care for those with jobs, non-unionized, lobbyist empowered, large gap between rich and poor, underfunded public education Red side or the high taxation, plenty of social services, abortion is legal, marijuana is legal, universal health care, unionized, regulated markets and financial institutions, pro-public education Blue side?

Just Say Your Sorry!

Another tip from social scientist Dan Ariely:  saying "sorry" really does have a beneficial effect . . . Ariely proved this by setting up a simple experiment where the technician running the experiment takes a cell-phone call in the middle of questioning the subject-- and rudely ignores him for a time-- but later the subject has a chance to exact "revenge" when the technician over-pays him for his efforts; if the technician did NOT take the cell phone call, then the subject usually gave back the overpayment, but the times the technician took the call, the subject usually exacted pecuniary revenge for  the rudeness . . . unless the technician said, "Sorry, I shouldn't have taken that call" afterward . . . but, of course, if Ariely simply watched this scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (when Lancelot storms the wedding and kills the best man and many other guests, but ends up getting along smashingly with the King because he apologizes for his violent actions) the he wouldn't have had to go through all the trouble of running the experiment.

Bonus at Gheorghe:The Blog . . . The Internet is for Corn-Hole

If you want to learn more about corn-hole performance during Outer Banks Fishing Trip XXVII, check this post out . . . you will also learn about the true purpose of the internet.


Highlights (and lowlights) of the Outer Banks Fishing Trip XXVII . . . worst water ever, cold and full of sea lice and jellyfish, which led to the most corn-hole playing ever, my right hamstring and back muscles actually started to get sore from tossing those beanbags . . . after a sound beating by the Bill/Whit corn-hole dynasty, Jerry and Chris go inside and Google "how to toss a corn-hole beanbag" and then return minutes later and drub the dynasty . . . Bruce a.k.a. "Windy Buttocks" gives an extemporaneous wind report off the deck of the Martha Wood . . . T.J. tries to leap the chair, although "leap" probably isn't the correct word . . . a fantastic sit-com called "T.J. and the Weave" also featuring "Jerry" . . . two guys with mustaches . . . Lacey the bartender is pregnant so we do the math (and also try to name the baby "Whitney" but she says it sounds too snobby) . . . a discussion of The Book of Mormon . . . Bruce tries to change seats at Tortuga's because of the "menu game" . . . the advent of the Tortuga's "bar crawl" and a cyber-method of persuading someone to pick them up . . . thanks again for another successful trip,Whit.

Bonus : A Pertinent SNL Skit

Here is a related SNL skit (thanks to Greg) that is almost as funny as the last sentence:  "How Much Ya Bench."

8/2/10 This Won't Help What People Think Of New Jersey

My friend Bruce runs Kittyhawk Kites down on the Outer Banks, and he often teaches hang-gliding lessons at Jockey's Ridge, and this was his unfortunate experience with a Jersey guy a few weeks ago:  the guy was built well, he certainly worked out, but he was having trouble flying the glider (actually, a lighter touch works much better) and not getting half the distance the rest of his group was getting, so Bruce took him aside and gave him a few pointers, and then when the guy walked back over to his friend, and Bruce clearly heard him say: "Yeah, so that guy knows a lot about hang-gliding, but how much can he bench?"

8/1/10 Family Life: A Portrait

A snapshot of our family life:  my lovely wife agreed to sugar-wax the disgusting patches of hair off my back, which really hurt, so my youngest son held my hand during the process, and while my wife ripped and teared away I told my other son that if I was a movie star, they'd depilate my entire body, which would really hurt and he said, "But do they let fat guys be movie stars?" and then he qualified it and said, "Not like you . . . even fatter, like THIS fat" and he mimicked being really fat with his hands and I said, "Sure, John Candy and John Belushi and Chris Farley and Jack Black were all fat movie stars," and he said, "Oh yeah, if you had a fat movie star you could paint him brown and he'd be like a piece of poop, that would be funny" and this image of painting someone like John Candy poop brown made us all laugh really hard (despite the fact that Catherine was dripping hot wax on my back and then yanking it off) and then Catherine said, "Our son is weird."
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.