Just Trying To Live My Life (Dave Style)

So I'm just living my life, stealing some printer paper from the boss's office and printing some stuff that I need to print, and leaving a stack of paper on the common table in the office while I'm printing my stuff that I needed to print, when I realize that I need to bolt, that time is of the essence, but while I am in the process of bolting out of there, I hear this voice, a voice with a reminiscent tone, a voice layered with subtext, a voice that is dripping with an undercurrent, an undercurrent which I know exactly how to decipher and this voice says, "Are you done with this paper?" and I look and see Liz holding the stack of paper that I tossed on the common table and I recognize that her tone is the same tone as when Catherine, my beloved wife, holds up a used yogurt container that I have left on the counter and says, "Are you done with this yogurt container?" and I know what this really means is: "You are a fucking insensitive slob who thinks women have been placed on this earth to clean up your shit, but I have been placed on this earth to teach you a lesson, and the lesson is this: women are not here to clean up your shit, and you are going to learn to clean up your shit, and you may learn this sooner or you may learn it later, but you will eventually learn this, and this tone is essential to you learning this lesson because it is a tone that is antithetical to the way you want to live your insensitive, self-centered, egotistical, selfish life and eventually you will hear the tone before the words are even spoken because the tone will live in your head and then you will realize that the tone has won and the Way of Dave has lost" and while I can see where both Liz and Catherine are coming from, sometimes you just want to live your life the way you want and leave a bunch of shit all over the place and clean it up later, but maybe I was born in the wrong place and at the wrong time and maybe I'm never going to get to live my life this way.

If You Think It, It Will Come

Some of the little girls we know are fascinated by the baby-making process . . . one girl gave our boys a basic tutorial on the birds-and-the-bees and another asked her mom, "How long does the boy have to leave it in there?" but our boys haven't had much interest in this process, and I am pretty sure that they both believe that if a woman thinks she wants a baby then it happens, in their minds there is no need for the male; here is a conversation between Ian and my wife that substantiates this . . . Ian: Mommy, I want a better family; Catherine: I think our family is pretty good; Ian: No Mommy, I want a bigger family; Catherine: We have a big family, Grammy and Poppy and Nanny and Uncle Marc and Daddy and Mommy and Alex . . . Ian: No, more people in the house . . . you can make it happen Mommy, you can make it happen in your tummy-- if you want to.

I Enter A New Age Bracket

In the past, I would occasionally learn that a student had a crush on me-- and this information would be enormously flattering to me: the fact that I could still appeal to the younger set-- but after this year's Back to School Night I learned that things are different now; I overheard a few of the girls in my class giggling and remarking how their mothers thought I was "cool" and attractive . . . I guess I appeal to a different demographic now.

Terry Has Talent . . . I Do Not

Rumor has it that my friend Terry can recognize any song after only listening to a few notes (I do not have this ability although I did recognize the Cheers theme song from one note) and he proved it Thursday night: we were having cheap beers at the local Hooters (I always wanted to write that phrase) and Stacy remarked how much she loved the new Cee Lo Green song "Fuck You" and Terry said that he had never heard it, so I sang a couple of verses (and my voice was even worse than usual, as it had been a very long day: I performed several songs in class, coached a soccer game, and then spoke to all the parents at "Back to School Night," so I was beyond gravelly) and Terry said, "That sounds like Gnarls Barkley," and for a moment my head swelled (after we explained to Terry that Cee Lo Green sang on the Gnarls Barkley hit "Crazy") and I thought that I was a very talented singer, but then Stacy pointed out that I had done a terrible job singing the song and that Terry was the one with the special talent.

Can Someone Explain This?

So if everyone is inside catching up with their TIVO and playing XBox and poking around on Facebook-- because we are addicted to technology and no one has any money to spend because the economy is bad and unemployment is high, then why is there so much fucking traffic?

God is Rooting For Us

My adult league soccer team rolls on, despite our age and infirmity; we won 1-0 Wednesday night against a team that was definitely half our age, and we got some help with the weather . . . ten minutes into the second half the game ended early due to lightning.

Daddy Needs a New Pair of Shoes, So Keep on Burning Those Fossil Fuels!

I am rooting for global warming, because the government can't prop up housing prices forever, and when several million people in New York City realize that they are going to be flooded out by a rising ocean, they will head on over to New Jersey and want to buy my house.

An Alternative Use For a Hand Dryer

Camping confession: I didn't shower during my camping trip last weekend, but it was pretty humid and despite changing underwear several times, I still felt pretty rank, and so the couple of times that I walked to the bathroom with plumbing, I pulled open the front of my pants and directed the hand dryer so it was blowing directly down them; this effectively dried my nether regions, but I was really concerned about someone walking in while I was doing this because my camping pants cinch at the ankles and I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

Chastity is Hard to Define to a Five Year Old

Jenny Jump State Park is named after a colonial girl who was being chased by Lenni Lenape Indians and when they finally cornered her at the edge of a cliff, her father instructed her to jump (which she did, and she died) in order to save her chastity . . . and it was rather hard to explain to the younger kids on our group camping trip why she jumped, I told them it was because her dad didn't want his daughter to have to marry a Native American . . . and that was enough explanation for my son Ian, who then resumed naming various sticks "Jenny" and then tossing them off the rock outcropping while simulating suicidal screams.

Hang Around Me And You Might Lose an Eye

I couldn't find my hatchet while we were breaking down our campsite, so I had to figure out some other way to pry the tent stakes from the ground; I decided to use one thick yellow tent stake as a lever to yank the stuck tent stake out of the ground, but when I yanked the plastic cracked and half the stake went flying and hit Ian in the face, which made him cry, but I was glad he didn't lose an eye . . . and then later that day when I was showering off all the camping grit, I decided my hair needed some conditioning, but the conditioner bottle was jammed with dried conditioner, so I squeezed and squeezed-- but to no avail-- the dried chunk would not dislodge, and so I put the conditioner on the shower floor (clogged hole pointing up) and stepped on the bottle and-- of course-- conditioner shot up in a geyser and went into my eye, temporarily blinding me, and making me feel, just for a moment, like one of those rabbits or guinea pigs that had to endure similar lab tests for months on end.

The Coming Years Are Going To Be Trouble

I was known as "The Poor Man's Galileo" in college for my generally idiotic hypotheses, but perhaps my son will not be as ersatz: Friday night we were in a rush to get to Jenny Jump State Park to set up camp before dark, and I told Alex and Ian we were "racing the sun" to get there on time, but Alex corrected me, saying:"Actually, Dad, we're racing the Earth, since it's the Earth spinning that makes it dark . . . the sun doesn't move," and I had to admit that he was correct.

I Am The Grim Reaper

There is nothing worse than telling a kid they didn't make the eighth grade soccer team (except being told you didn't make the eighth grade soccer team).

And That Makes It All Worthwhile

I am playing in an adult soccer league in North Brunswick this fall, and we played our first game on Wednesday night and defeated last year's champions 2-1; I've been having knee problems (my knee-cap popped out again when I took an especially hard and wild left-footed shot last week) and so I was rather gimpy, but I wrapped my knee with an Ace bandage and put a brace on it and I was able to run, albeit slowly (and this team, which was half our age, made it very clear how slow I have become) but my slow motion play helped us win . . . as I had a hand in our first goal because I slowly weaved my way through their defense and found myself with space in the penalty area but as I moved to shoot one of their players hit me from behind and I was awarded a PK, which I did NOT take, I left that to a guy named Trilok, who had a PK as intimidating as his name, it was a change-of-pace-you-think-it's-going-to-be-righty-but-it-turns-out-to-be-lefty shot that froze their keeper, and then I assisted our star player Mario for the second goal-- I chipped one over the defense into space and Mario ran onto it, took a dribble, and poked it to the right of the diving keeper, and then the game got a little ugly because last year's champions weren't used to losing and they got mouthy with the ref and received a couple of yellow cards, and I could barely walk on my knee the next day and my calf was swollen and there was quite a bit of traffic getting to North Brunswick for the game and sometimes I think to myself: this is ridiculous to still be playing a kid's sport, but it was all worthwhile, not because we won, but because after the game, when I got home, my wife said I looked "sexy" in my uniform (although I'm afraid if I run my Large uniform shirt through a dryer cycle, I won't look "sexy" any longer, I'll look like a hairy stuffed sausage . . . note to self: I am an Extra Large).

Some People Just Don't Appreciate Magic

At work, I tend to lose things and then spend lots of time looking for these things that I've lost (your tax dollars at work!) and my usual method is to wander around to various places in the school and ask people things like: "Hey, have you seen a manila folder?" and usually the thing turns up (though it is often in my bag or desk or someplace like that, but the wandering around gives me time to remember where I might have put it) but last Tuesday when I couldn't find the folder with all the emergency contact forms, after a minute of asking my students things like "Hey, do you guys remember what I did with that folder yesterday?" which is an absolutely ridiculous question because what student would even be watching where a teacher placed a manila folder, but after a minute of this nonsensical behavior, I took a moment and really thought about what I might have done with the folder-- which was not in my bag or in my desk-- and I remembered that on Monday, I had lifted my big desk calendar up and tore "September" off and tacked it to the cork-board, and then, and once I remembered about lifting up the calendar, then I knew that the only place the folder could be was under the calendar and I told my class this and there was this magical moment before I lifted the calendar up to see if I was right where I was just so happy that I had logically deduced where the folder was . . . and, remarkably . . . astoundingly . . . miraculously . . . it was there, it was right under the calendar, just like I thought, and I tried to explain to my students how wonderful this moment was for me, and how much they should have appreciated being there to see me experience this joy, but it was early in the morning and the magic was lost on them.

The Recognitions: 956 Dave: 595

It's official: The Recognitions, a dense novel by William Gaddis, has defeated me; I put up a valiant effort and nearly reached the 600 page mark before I shook hands with this allusion filled Modernist tome; the book seems to be about art forgery and counterfeiting and religion, but there's obviously some deeper theme which I have failed to recognize . . . and I'm not going to to kid myself and say that I'm just taking a break and I'll pick it back up this winter, because now I'm reading the new Slavoj Zizek book (Living in the End Times) and it seems clear and logical, as compared to The Recognitions . . . and when a book makes Slavoj Zizek seem clear and logical, then it is certainly beyond me.

Again, Me with the Smrts!

I am on a roll with correct answers . . . two weeks ago I named the country with the highest ranked education system, and Saturday night (after lambasting several men who were watching Men's Tennis . . . who watches Men's Tennis?  I can see watching the women, but the men?) I went out on a limb and said that Women's Tennis was higher ranked on TV than Men's Tennis, a rare state of affairs in most professional sports-- besides figure skating and gymnastics-- and the tennis fans vehemently disagreed, but once again, I get to type the most pompous and annoying three word phrase in the English Language: I WAS RIGHT.

Where Men Win Glory: Jalalabad, Not Dallas

Jon Krakauer's new book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman tells more than the story of a free-thinking, hard-hitting strong NFL safety that sacrificed his fairy-tale life in order to fight Osama bin Laden; it also tells the story of the Bush Administration and the American military's "perception management" of the two wars that we are still entangled in . . . and Krakauer uses the words of Hermann Goring to explain, "Naturally, the common people don't want war . . . that is understood, but after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship . . . voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders; that is easy-- all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger . . . it works the same way in every country," and that summarizes what happened in our country, and because Tillman kept extensive journals, not only do you see the lies, deceit, and obfuscation that Rumsfeld and crew had to perpetuate in order to galvanize the country behind their Neo-conservative mis-adventures, but you also see how Tillman, who wanted to do the right and honorable thing, slowly realizes the truth of the wars, and after he is killed by his own men, because of negligence from many places, both high and low, how his brother (who was in the same Ranger unit as Pat) and finally, his family, slowly realize the truth about Pat's death and the military cover-up of that event: ten Purple Hearts out of ten.

These Modern Times Are Complex

Sometimes-- when we have a sink full of dirty dishes-- I open the dishwasher, in order to load it up, and then start washing all the dishes in the sink by hand, because I have forgotten that there is a such a device as a dishwasher, but eventually, I'll glance over and see the open dishwasher door and remember what I set out to do: load the dirty dishes into a labor and water saving device . . . does anyone else do this?

Two Boys on Bikes: You Know Where This is Headed

I couldn't have been prouder than I was last week when my youngest son mastered the two-wheeler and the three of us went biking through the park . . . I wonder if this will lead to the inevitable:  the two of them drunk and needing to be somewhere in a hurry so they "borrow" a couple of bikes, ride them to the bar, and dump them on someone's front lawn . . . I had forgotten about this practice (which was popular when I went to William and Mary) but my friend reminded me about it when he told me his bikes were stolen in Sea Isle City and the cops told him that was usually the reason for bike theft . . . and sure enough, they found one of his bikes on a front lawn near a bar (which is better than in Amsterdam, there when the joy ride is over, the thieves toss your bike into the canal).

I Wisely Keep My Mouth Shut

On the first day of first grade, a boy made fun of my son Alex . . . he called his lip-balm "lipstick" and that evening Alex asked us for advice on how to handle this taunt, and my wife responded with some very practical advice; she told him, "Just put your Chapstick on in the bathroom," and good thing she said something quickly, because it gave me time to NOT say what I wanted to say:"Just tell the kid you got the lipstick from his mother . . . after you finished banging her."

I Am So Smart! Or At Least I Was For One Brief Shining Moment . . .

During our inspirational start-of-the-school-year workshop, which took place in a dark, damp, sweltering room stuffed with English teachers, the Australian woman running the show asked if we knew which country has the highest ranked educational system in the world (if you want to know, click here) and while others hazarded guesses, I confidently said the answer (and received a literal pat on the back from my colleague Kevin) because I had read Diane Ravitch's excellent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System and for one brief and wondrous, but completely ephemeral moment, I felt really smart . . . for one second I felt like all my desultory reading was worthwhile . . . but I'm pretty sure that's going to the highlight of my life, as far as correct answers go; I am afraid it will be all downhill from here on in.

This Snake IS a Plane

Saturday morning we snaked our way along the Northeast Corridor and under the Hudson River and then  North and West on the Blue Line in order to get to the Museum of Natural History to see the new exhibit "Lizards and Snakes: Alive!" and though the exhibit was well done and comprehensive, the best creature was not present in the flesh, but instead on a piece of documentary film: called the Paradise Tree Snake, and otherwise known as the Flying Snake . . . the film showed just how this wingless snake (it's much more utilitarian than Quetzalcoatl) glides; the snake launches itself from a branch, and then spreads its ribs which flattens its body into a curled glider . . . it's fun to imagine this snake landing on the head of your worst enemy . . . and then there was more snaking along train lines on the way from the Museum to the Lego Store, because of the byzantine ways of the NYC Subway System (why, on the weekends, is there no B train?  wouldn't the weekends be the time when lots of people would want to get from the Museum to Rockefeller Center?  so why not run the B train? or why not stop the D train at the Museum? or why not put this information on a sign? and why is it so fucking HOT down there when it was such a beautiful day?) and when we got to the Lego store there was one more serpentine treat: a giant Lego snake that wove its way in and out of the store and finally culminated in a fanciful Chinese dragon head . . . and then we wove and snaked our way through hordes of people with two boys who are now too cool to hold our hands and also too cool to hold the pole on the Subway, but we made it home alive and well and we'll do it again once we forget what a sweaty hassle it is to get around on NYC public transportation.

Cop? Cop. Cop? Cop? Can? Can. Can? Can.

The boys and I were fishing at the river, and we saw a guy with an impressive rig setting up along the bank, and I asked him what he was fishing for and he said (with a Scottish accent) "cop" and I said "cop?" and he said "cop" and I said "cop?" and he said "cop" and and I said "cop??" and he said: "cop" I said "Oh . . . carp!" and he said "Yeah, cop, they get quite big," and I asked "What are you using for bait?" and he said "can" and I said "can?" and he said "can" and I said "can??" and he said "can" and I said, "Oh . . . corn!"

Bonus Post at G:TB: Yes, Even You Can Attain the New Cool

If you've got some time to kill and feel like "reading" a visual essay (it's a bunch of YouTube clips and pictures flimsily strung together with captions) then head over to Gheorghe: The Blog for my visual essay entitled "Yes, Even You Can Attain the New Cool."

What Have the Romans Done For Us?

Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts, by Australian critic Clive James, is a comprehensive guide to art, politics, and everything else worth knowing about the 20th century, and he structures the book as 110 biographical essays, ranging from Camus to Margaret Thatcher (including lots of folks I have never heard of:  Paul Muratov, Virginio Rognoni Dubravka Ugresic) and he includes several figures from before the 20th century, most notably Tacitus, who has given us the tools to analyze, skewer, and debunk the ruling tyranny; I love how Tacitus (a Roman) thought the Germans perceived Roman rule: they make a desert, and they call it peace . . . and this aphorism is certainly reflective of how many people feel about our policies in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and, in a general sense, as James puts it, is a "harbinger of twentieth-century state terror" . . . but, on the other hand, we must not forget what the Romans have done for us . . . they did give us the aqueducts . . . and the roads . . . and the wine, oh yes, the wine . . . and medicine . . . and it's safe to walk the streets at night . . .

Feeling Happy? Watch This.

Robert Greenwald's documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price is depressing in such a globally mind-blowing way that it almost evokes detachment . . . the low wages that Wal-Mart pays its "associates," the government subsidies for Wal-Mart stores and infrastructure, the slave wages paid in Honduras and China, the reliance of Wal-Mart employees on government programs for food and medical care, the union busting, the misogyny, the crime in the parking lots because of lack of security, the coercion techniques Wal-Mart managers use to get the "associates" to work unpaid overtime, and the sad demise of family businesses that inevitably cave to the competition . . . and though there is a "happy ending" tacked on, which details how certain communities rallied and saved their down-towns and local business and blocked Wal-Mart from their towns, you know in the back of your mind that there's always another down-town down the road that will be destroyed instead and though I will never shop at Wal-Mart again (not that we go there for much, just for worms for fishing because the local bait-shop is gone, but I guess we'll dig out own now, because Costco doesn't sell live bait) but even if Costco and Target are marginally better, it still seems that we are headed down a strange path where giant corporations will choose what we buy, how much we are paid, and how we organize as laborers . . . but we'll have loads and loads of cheap and fluffy toilet paper.

Late Start

I wish Sentence of Dave covered my entire life because it's gotten to the point where if I can't search and find an incident on the blog, then I'm not sure if it really happened to me.

Beach Reading?

I ambitiously packed two weighty tomes for our week long trip to the beach:  The Recognitions by William Gaddis, which-- though I've read five hundred pages-- I barely understand, and Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts, a collection of 110 biographical essays ranging from Terry Gilliam to Tacitus, and though I recommend the latter book, neither of these works are beach reading . . . what was I thinking? . . . and so I eventually borrowed something from Dom that was more fun to read: Crash Course: The American Auto Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster and while I need to finish it before I can offer a comprehensive one sentence review and rating, I will say this:  it makes me want to watch the movie Gung Ho again, because I definitely didn't understand it when I was sixteen.

First Things First

The last night of our beach vacation, we took the kids on a ghost crab hunt, and before we went I told them a spooky tale to set the mood . . . once long ago there was a particular ghost crab that was killed by a shark, and he still haunted the beach to this day . . . he was the ghost of a ghost crab . . . and the kids, who had been watching Scooby Doo, assigned themselves characters (but no one wanted to be Velma) and decided to get to the bottom of this "ghost of a ghost crab" mystery, and while they were formulating the plan-- which involved an "invisible trap"-- my son Alex, whose personality frequently wavers between earnest and zany, stood and said, in his sternest voice "Okay, first things first! To make an invisible trap, we need a force field . . . who has a force field?"

Just When I Thought It Was Safe . . .

Just when I thought it was safe to go to the beach . . . safe to sit down and read my book or chat with other adults or skim-board a bit or maybe even take a quick nap . . . while my kids played in the light surf on their boogie-boards or dug in the sand or collected shells, with their new-found ability to make their way back to our towels and umbrellas unaided . . . this was going to be the year . . . the year my kids were self-sufficient, able to grab a snack on their own, able to amuse themselves without supervision . . . except, like all best laid plans, that's not how it turned out . . . instead of conforming to my idyllic vision, my boys transformed themselves into aggressive ocean swimmers, which is ridiculous, considering Ian barely weighs forty pounds and Alex is two pounds heavier, but, oblivious to these considerations, they now both now stride into the water without looking back to see if anyone is following or watching, and then kick out well over their heads into large surf, where they try to body surf and are often pummeled and sucked under (although Ian did body surf a wave three times his height, which was both scary and hysterical to watch, and when I chastised him for being in water that was too rough, he said, "Why?  I didn't flip," which was true, and while I'm on this subject I should also point out that Alex wandered along a tidal river and got completely lost and we didn't even know he was lost because we had assumed that he knew where our stuff was, but apparently he did not) and so we are now back where we were a few years ago, trailing our kids down the beach and into the ocean, because they aren't smart enough to look out for themselves.

A Hard Habit to Break

One of the purposes of this blog is to foster and promote human rights across the globe, and so I must implore any of my readers that are witch-doctors, or truck with witch-doctors, to please stop killing albinos and selling their body parts for use in magical potions . . . I know it's hard to abort a well-planned kidnapping and I know albino body-parts fetch a good price on the open market, but if you could substitute black rhinoceros horn or Bengal tiger kidney in your recipe, instead of albino body parts, you would be doing people of no color a great favor.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.