America: Home of the Grill, Land of the Knave

Only in America will the pimple faced grill guy from Lowe's-- whose camouflage boxers protrude conspicuously from his pants-- advise you that the the $350 Ducane Affinity 4200 is "a great grill for the money" but that he prefers (and has somehow found the cash to purchase) the $1000 dollar all stainless steel Weber model.

My Son Ian: Creative Genius or Incorrigible Weirdo?

Last Tuesday, I confronted my six year old son Ian at 5:05 PM about the inordinate number of Cheez-It brand baked snack crackers he was consuming, but he told me not to worry-- he would have no problem eating his dinner because he possesses "a treat tummy and a regular tummy," but I didn't buy this line of logic, and confiscated his giant bowl of Cheez-It brand baked snack crackers, and so he decided to go upstairs and "do some art," which I figured would consist of drawing or coloring, but he broke out the acrylic paints and made a big mess-- but I didn't want to yell at him and stifle his creative energy-- and then I noticed a metal fountain pen, broken in half, on his desk, and I calmly asked him . . . that's right fucking calmly-- because I'm no longer losing my temper, no matter how pissed I get at my kids-- so I asked him calmly what had happened, and then I noticed that he had broken the pen's ink cartridge in half-- snapped it in half, like some sort of lunatic with no respect for anything in his place of residence-- and he had mixed the blue ink from the pen cartridge with blue acrylic paint (and he had produced a lovely scenic painting) and once again-- though his desk, the floor, and his hands were stained with indelible blue ink-- I didn't want to stifle his artistic ambitions, or oppress his experimental little brain, so I got him cleaned up, complimented his attempt at mixing mediums, and told him that next time he should paint at the kitchen table (I am trying not to lose my temper with my kids these days, unless one child maliciously harms someone . . . and it's a fucking challenge).

The Descendents > The Descendants

If you have the choice, you're much better off listening to Milo Goes to College, rather than watching The Descendants . . . though the movie is well-acted and well-directed, it is also rather tedious, and very, very depressing (despite the all Hawaiian shirts and island music).

Learning to Let a Sleeping Cat Lie . . .or Lay . . . Whatever She Prefers

Last week I corrected my wife for using the word "lay" instead of "lie," and when she questioned me about the proper usage I made the mistake of saying, "You call yourself a teacher?" and then I attempted to explain the difference between "lie" and "lay"-- that "lay" always takes a direct object, which is why you lie down in your bed, but a chicken lays an egg-- but she was hearing none of it; she was rightfully indignant over my contemptuous tone (I need to work on that) and I realized that this was a sleeping dog that I should let lie . . . so I didn't mention it again until yesterday, when I heard her repeatedly telling our dog to "lay down," and so-- being very careful of my tone-- I yelled from the kitchen, "Are you trying to annoy me, or what?" but apparently my attempt to use a warm and playful tone didn't work because she yelled back, "No . . . I guess I'm just really stupid!" and even I could recognize that she was being sarcastic . . . so though it offends the English teacher in me, I think I'm going to have to live with this one fault that my wonderful, beautiful, generally flawless wife possesses, and consider myself lucky that this is my only grievance in an otherwise blissful marriage.

Far Better Than The Corn Palace

It makes sense that the world's largest kaleidoscope is near Woodstock, New York and it also makes sense that the eleven minute show is a psychedelic history of the United States . . . the kaleidoscope is housed in a grain silo, and because my family and I were the only folks partaking in the show, we got to lie down on the floor and stare straight up the barrel of the silo at the giant, fragmented images . . . and if that's not exciting enough for you, then you can let your kids browse in the high end section of the gift shop, which contains "toys" that run from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars; there is a sign that says only "responsible adults may handle them," and I'm sure this is warranted-- as this place must be a fun stop for irresponsible adults making a pilgrimage to Woodstock; anyway, if you are in the vicinity, it is definitely worth the trip, far more exciting than the Corn Palace in South Dakota (which I was so excited to see that I got a speeding ticket on my way into Mitchell-- I offered the cop my PBA card and he laughed at me-- and then I was sorely disappointed with the attraction).

Hey Sylvia Plath! Get Your Act Together! April is National Poetry Month!

April is the month to celebrate poets and poetry, and so I will share one of my poems here (and please don't be intimidated by how good it is, as I teach creative writing, and so I have unbelievable creative powers) and I should warn you that this poem contains an "allusion" and that if you don't know how Sylvia Plath offed herself, then you might not understand all the "layers" of this masterpiece, which not only did I write myself (without the use of the internet) but I have also memorized in toto so that I can recite it to my classes after we read "Mirror":

Some Advice for Sylvia Plath

Get your head out of that oven
and cook us up another poem.

The Potato Apostrophe Catastrophe

So last week, I thought to myself, if I were able to speak to a corporation, this is what I would say: "Hey Herr's . . . how about making the outside of your personal sized potato chip bag less slick and flashy, and instead do something useful with it, like make it more porous and corrugated-- more like the consistency of a napkin-- so that when I'm done eating your chips, I can wipe the greasy jalapeno dust off my fingers and onto the bag" but when I mentioned this genius idea to my students, they quickly saw the flaw in my plan: the bags would get incredibly dirty before they were sold . . . from the factory and the shipping and wherever they're stored, and I had to agree, as I could see someone working up a sweat, loading chips, and using one of the new "napkin bags" to wipe his brow, or blow his nose or worse . . . so this is not going to go down as one of Dave's Great Ideas, and I'd like to revise what I would say to the Herr's corporation: "Hey Herr's . . . keep up the good work on those delicious jalapeno chips!"

Ergonomic Canine Generated Plectrum

My dog chewed on one of my guitar picks, and now it fits perfectly between my finger and thumb (which makes me wonder if I can train him to do this while I am at work-- I could run a cottage industry creating ergonomic plectrums-- and I know my dog has plenty of free time while I'm at work, as I closely observed him over Spring Break, and he's very unproductive during the workday . . . he basically lies in the sun and naps . . . and his Buffalo Blue dog food doesn't come cheap).

How to Cultivate a Green Thumb

Watering my wife's garden would be monotonous, if it weren't for the magical powers of beer.

Some Good Movies and TV You May Not Have Seen #5

David Cronenberg's eXistenZ came out at the same time as The Matrix, but it wasn't as popular-- possibly because it's easier to spell "matrix" then it is to spell "eXistenZ"-- but Cronenberg's film is weird and fun and the acting is certainly more entertaining than what Keanu Reeves had to offer as Neo . . . Jude Law and Jennifer Jason Leigh wade through multiple levels of a video game which may or may not be reality, and they run into Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe and lots of really gross props along the way.

Life Isn't Fair (But You Don't Have to Rub It In)

My son Alex got in trouble for punching his younger brother in the head yesterday, and I am partly to blame-- Ian was telling us about his day at school, and he mentioned that his class had some sort of party and he got to eat M&M's and this really pissed his older brother off-- Alex immediately wanted some M&M's . . . because it wasn't fair that Ian got M&M's and he didn't get any-- but we didn't have any M&M's (and even if we did have some, I wouldn't have given him any because his logic was ridiculous, which I tried to explain-- the fact that occasionally his class had parties and got treats and that Ian's class did not get . . . but he wasn't buying it) and so, since he wouldn't listen to reason, I decided to taunt Alex a bit, and so I said to Ian, "I love M&M's! I'll bet those M&M's were really good, and it's nice to get some M&M's at school," and Ian agreed with me . . . but all this M&M talk was more than Alex could handle, so he popped Ian right in the forehead and then got sent upstairs-- but I should have been sent upstairs as well, as I exacerbated the situation.

Nostradavus (If You Are A Member of My Wife's Book Club, Do Not Read This!)

Using my magnificent powers of clairvoyance and divination, I am going to make a stunningly useless prediction: in the near future, my wife's book club will select Cheryl Strayed's memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail as their book of the month . . . Karen Long called it a "tougher, more feral" version of Eat, Pray Love and it's already got a long request queue at the library . . . I am planning on reading this book-- if I ever finish Cryptonomicon-- but I will in no way recommend it to any members of her book club (and hopefully they won't read this sentence) so that we can see if my prophetic acumen is accurate.

Meme Song (Dave Coins an Essential New Phrase!)

From the same mind that brought you the eternally delightful and eminently practical word Tupperawareness, comes another hand-crafted, home-made, and absolutely essential addition to the lexicon . . . once you hear it, you won't be able to live without it; so imagine the scenario: you've just heard a memorable melody, a snatch of a song, just a wee bit of music . . . and you can't forget it-- it's ideal, archetypal, and exemplary, like the Da Duh Da Duh from Jaws or the Dah De Neh Na, Neh Na Nuh from Indiana Jones or the Da Na Nuh Na Nuh Nuh Na Nuh Nuh from Star Wars (Darth Vader's entrance) or the Dah Nah Nah Noo Nah from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and you need a name for this bit of music, and, thanks to Sentence of Dave,  here it is: a meme song (and I can't believe this term doesn't already exist, it makes me wonder if the internet is dumber than I thought).

Hiking + Amphibians = Happy Children

Happiness is flipping over a rock and finding a salamander . . . but you've got to flip a lot of rocks before you hit the jackpot; we tried our best at the Mohonk Preserve, but it proved salamander-less, but the next day, while we were hiking to Awosting Falls in Minnewaska State Park, I tried my luck in a drainage gully that ran alongside the trail, as it was damp and full of rocks . . . and there was a salamander under every stone . . . sometimes even two or three salamanders, but only the red-backed and Jefferson varieties, not the elusive yellow-spotted salamander (although we did find a yellow striped mimic millipede).

A Dirty Family Secret

When we go on vacation, we let our boys watch cable TV.

No Escape From the Theme

So Wednesday night my wife spent eight hours in the emergency room with her mother, who needed an emergency nephrostomy, and then she spent the entire following day in the hospital, conferring with doctors and and keeping her mom company . . . and by Thursday afternoon things finally started looking up (her mom's creatinine levels went down) and so my wife and I took a break the hospital (and our kids, who were at my parent's house) and went to Coco-- our favorite Thai/Malaysian place-- for some much needed food and beer; we were hoping to take a deep breath and relax, but this was not to be, we had barely dug into our papaya salad, when an older guy sitting at the table next to us slumped forward in his seat . . . we saw his eyes roll back into his skull and drool run down his chin, and the woman with him explained that he had a heart problem, so they laid him out on the floor and put a jacket under his head and some lady who seemed to know what she was doing checked his pulse and cleared his mouth (she turned out to be a nurse) and he was still out cold, so I figured I should use my CPR training, though I had never executed it on a real human, and so I knelt down next to him-- he definitely wasn't responding-- and so I put my hand on his chest and measured the proper distance from the sternum and just as I was about to start doing the compressions (to the beat of Stayin' Alive, of course) the guy came to . . . I think he may have had a small stroke or maybe he fainted-- who knows-- but in a moment he was fairly coherent, groggy, but able to talk-- so we went back to our "relaxing" meal-- and this guy was especially lucky that it wasn't a life-threatening emergency, as the waiter who called 911 must not have been very clear on the phone . . . the police took an inordinate amount of time to show up, and the ambulance took even longer-- because the police didn't realize it was a medical emergency and instead thought it was a customer dispute . . . so though we tried to take a break from the stress of the hospital, the medical crisis came to us, and remained there on the floor the entire length of our dinner, and the moral of the story is this: if you're at an authentic Asian restaurant and you're having a medical emergency, make sure someone who can speak fluent English makes the 911 call.

Some Good Movies and TV You May Not Have Seen #4

If you haven't seen The Shield start to finish, then you are really missing out; from the fantastic pilot that sets the plot arc for the remainder of the series to the arguably the most perfectly appropriate closing episode in the history of television, The Shield delivers . . .  especially during the Forest Whitaker and Glenn Close seasons . . . and now Walton Goggins-- the actor who played Shane Vendrell-- is on another show call Justified, which I also highly recommend.

Life Can Be Funny (Not "Ha Ha" Funny)

One moment you may find yourself in aptly named High Falls, New York-- standing beneath a waterfall with your wife, watching your boys skip stones into a pool of clear water-- but a cell phone call and a couple hours later you're back in New Jersey, cleaning your carsick son's vomit off a comforter while your wife spends eight hours in the emergency room with her mom, who is waiting for a nephrostomy because her one remaining kidney is not functioning properly (and apparently if you spend eight hours in an emergency room you witness some wild things: a sixteen year old who nearly OD'ed on oxycontin; a ninety-four year old woman who felt fine and wanted to leave and so pulled out all her tubes and made a break for it; an angry drunk who needed to be subdued by eight security officers, etcetera . . . ask my wife for details).

Some Good Movies and TV You May Not Have Seen #3

I love pretty much everything documentarian Errol Morris has done, but if you're going to get into his work, you might as well start at the beginning, with Gates of Heaven-- which Roger Ebert claims to have seen over thirty times and makes his short list of the ten best movies ever-- it's ostensibly about pet cemeteries, but I'm sure the meaning of life is buried somewhere in this film: "There's your dog, your dog's dead . . . but where's the thing that made it move? It had to be something, didn't it?"

Some Good Movies and TV You May Not Have Seen #2

This clip of David Cross selling Thunder Muscle energy drink is NOT SAFE FOR WORK . . . and if you find this sort of thing funny (my wife does not) then you will love The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret . . . Todd Margaret is utterly despicable, with no endearing qualities-- we are talking beyond Kenny Powers despicable-- but he is funny.

Special Vacation Update!

Shockingly, they have Wi-Fi in the Catskills . . . so I am on vacation and I am on-line; I even managed to write a complete post over at Gheorghe: The Blog . . . Dave's Definitive List of Seven Movies That Are Better Than the Book.

Some Good Movies and TV You May Not Have Seen

My family is heading to the Catskills for Spring Break, but I don't want to leave all my dedicated fans in the lurch . . . so each day I'll give you a clip from a movie or TV show that I highly recommend-- and though I'm certainly no film buff, which is probably a good thing, as I won't be recommending anything really artsy or obscure-- I will try to suggest things that you haven't seen, and all of these movies and shows have the DAVE GUARANTEE . . . my personal stamp of approval . . . so if you watch one of these recommendations and don't enjoy it, I will refund your time in full; my first recommendation is The Third Man . . . it's a classic movie with a modern pace-- I usually don't have the patience for black and white movies-- but I like it better than Casablanca . . . awesome zither music, excellent footage of war torn Vienna, and a fantastic cameo by Orson Welles . . . check it out, you won't be disappointed.

Melancholia Makes My Wife Angry (Except For One Brief Moment)

Melancholia, a pretentiously artsy film about depression and the end of the world, did not have the intended effect on my wife . . . instead of making her melancholic, it made her very angry-- the slow pace, the random unexplained images, the self-absorbed and despicable characters-- these finally grated on her nerves so much that-- after an epithet laced hour-- she quit watching, but she got the point: it's a film about the earth's demise, but because you have no emotional attachment to the people in this movie, you don't feel much anxiety as the end approaches; though the characters are awful people, living pathetic, anxiety-ridden lives, I wanted to see their final disintegration, and so I pressed on until the end, but really the most fascinating images are at the beginning of the film, and so while I certainly can't recommend this slog through Lars van Trier's imagination, you might try the watching the montage at the start and the horribly awkward wedding scene . . . Kiefer Sutherland is great, though Kirsten Dunst is rather annoying as a melancholic . . . but I think she got a boob job, so there's that to look at . . . and the one thing that my wife and I both liked about the movie was more of a happy accident than something intentional-- during the generally disastrous wedding, there is one romantic moment: the guests make Chinese sky lanterns and launch them into the night, and this was a helpful scene for my wife and me . . . after we saw The Hunger Games, when we walked out into the dark parking lot, we saw some odd, spooky lights in the night-sky, rising rapidly in formation and then burning out, and after much speculation and discussion, we determined that they must have been Chinese sky lanterns and now, after seeing them up close in the film, we are certain that is what we saw . . . and so for that, and for that alone, Lars van Trier, my wife thanks you.

I Seek Wisdom From the Crowd

Several years ago, my friend Whitney and I  laid an interesting wager on a game of darts-- this was very late at night and after many beers-- and the bet was this: the winner could make the loser wear any t-shirt he chose for one day of the OBFT (as long as this t-shirt was not horribly profane, as we spend a long portion of each day at the wrap around bar in a family seafood joint) and I won the game of darts, but I have yet to "collect" on this bet, as I've never determined what t-shirt I want Whitney to wear . . . and I kind of like holding the possibility that I might show up with a ridiculous t-shirt over his head each year, but I feel it's time for Whitney to pay up and so I am going to take a page out of James Surowiecki's book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economics, Societies, and Nations and see what you have to offer . . . so Internet, I call on your wisdom, give me an idea of how I can humiliate my friend in the form of a t-shirt.

Breaking News in the World of Cheap Mexican Food!

For as long as I can remember, Burrito Royale was a sketchy but constant staple on Route 1 in South Brunswick; I often got food there when I was waiting tables at Rumbleseats . . . and though the food was mediocre, I always appreciated the aesthetic charms of the joint-- amidst a corridor of chain restaurants, strip malls, and big box stores, this shack withstood the test of time (35 years!) but it has finally closed, to be replaced by . . . drum roll please . . . Burrito King . . . long live the King, hopefully as long as the Royale, which certainly had its share of cheese (and if you are the rare soul who needs more on this story, then click here).

This Is a Peccary (No Relation To A Pessary)

I will never understand the mysteries of the internet, but apparently people are coming to Sentence of Dave to look at a picture of a peccary, but when they arrive, they find no information about this lovely subtropical mammal, which is also known as "the musk hog" and has self-sharpening tusks, and instead these good folks, innocently surfing the web-- these javelina aficionados-- they find information on the use of a "pessary," which is a whole different can of worms, and I just want to make this perfectly clear to avoid a lawsuit, you may NOT use a peccary as a pessary . . . I do not advocate this, and while I am not a doctor and I have no idea if inserting a peccary into your uterus will prevent prolapse, even as a layman, I realize that the certain injury you will sustain from shoving a large odiferous mammal through your cervix can't possibly be worth the benefits . . . and for those of you who are researching the peccary, I will give you a tasty little factoid about this most beautiful of all of God's creatures: it is also known as "the skunk pig."

Chris McDougall vs. Dr. Kates (Literature vs. Podiatry)

It's a showdown remisicent of Godzilla versus Rodan: my foot doctor advised me not to run until the lab finished making my orthotic shoe inserts, but Chris McDougall, the author of Born to Run, told me that not only are orthotics bad for your feet, but that I shouldn't even wear traditional running shoes, as these will weaken my feet, and instead I should run barefoot . . . and I don't know who to listen to . . . I ran barefoot the other day, despite Dr. Kates warning, and my plantar fasciitis felt okay . . . but I don't want to push it and run too far, especially because of what happened to Caballo Blanco-- the problem is that I need a clone of myself, so that one of me can run with orthotics and one of me can run barefoot, and then my clone and I could truly judge which works better (and there's RockTape to consider, as well . . . so perhaps I need a third Dave).

Unreasonable Expectations

Though he had the best intentions, my brother set up my son Alex for much future disappointment; he gave us tickets to see the Red Bulls' home-opener and the seats were in the sixth row, on the end-line near the corner flag, so it was hard to see diagonally across the entire field, but it was a great view of the goal . . . and I warned my son-- who is eight and doesn't usually have the attention span to watch sports for very long-- that you have to pay close attention to a soccer game or you might miss the only goal . . . and then the game began and the Red Bulls scored two goals in the first six minutes, right in front of us . . . it was wonderful and spectacular, we got to see Thierry Henry score and assist, and this kept my son riveted to the game (despite the fact that it got quite slow-- when you take a 2-0 lead that quickly, then you just sink back and knock it around) but in the second half we also got to see Colorado score an excellent goal in front of us as well . . . and while this was a superb first professional sporting event for my, son I think he now has a skewed and unrealistic view of soccer, and doesn't realize just how slow-paced and boring the game can be; I will have to take him again to set things straight in his mind (this brings to mind my first Yankee game . . . or games, as my father thought I would enjoy a double-header, but I think my attention span was exhausted by the end of batting practice, which made for a long afternoon).

Battle Royale > The Hunger Games (Book) > The Hunger Games (Film)

If you feel the need to see a bunch of teenagers slaughtering each other in an organized contest, then watch renowned Japanese director Kinji Fukasaka's stylized and beautifully ludicrous Battle Royale rather than The Hunger Games-- an ersatz version if I've ever seen one; while Battle Royale whips through plot-arcs and violence effortlessly, elegantly and humorously characterizing the teenagers before they are killed in beautifully graphic scenes of blood and mayhem, The Hunger Games stays very close to its main subjects-- Katniss and Peeta-- much of the camera-work is done in the faux-documentary Blair Witch-style . . . but the film ignores what the book did well: the deft characterization of the other tributes-- most notably the fox-faced girl; it ignores the survival aspects of both living in District 12 and living in The Hunger Games arena . . . the hunting, gathering, camping, and sleeping in trees, and it glosses over the tactics and strategy the game-- including the best sub-plot of all: whether Peeta really loves Katniss and vice-versa, or if the romance is only a strategy to gain sponsorship . . . also annoying: the kids always look fresh-faced, made-up and coiffed, even deep into the games . . . after Katniss sleeps on a pile of leaves for two days, comatose because she was stung by poisonous wasps, she awakes scrubbed and clean, looking like she just got a facial, and her caretaker, Rue, looks the same-- no mud and grit and dirt-- even when Rue dies, she is cute and unblemished . . .  and I should also warn you that the acting and the dialogue are both extremely cheesy . . . but I shouldn't complain, the movie is for teenagers, not adults, and I watched it just so I could have something in common culturally with my students (who are going to stick me with a pair of scissors when I give them my review, but even if the movie is for teens, it shouldn't defy physics . . . how can you outrun those "muttation" dogs in a straight race, and there is no attempt to explain them-- unlike the book, in which they are genetically created from each dead competitor and resemble their human counterpart . . . in the movie, a lady generates one on a 3-D computer screen and then the creation instantly springs from the earth, fully formed and alive, and I would think if this miraculous technology existed then the Capitol Panem would have no use for fish and coal and whatever else they get from the 12 districts, as they would be gods that could create anything from nothing and I'm very disappointed that Roger Ebert gave this poor excuse of a movie three stars-- although most critics were in his camp-- but there are a few voices of reason on Rotten Tomatoes that noticed the many shortcomings of the film, especially David Denby, and I'm glad for that, because if my wife and Denby hadn't agreed that the movie sucked, then I might have doubted my sanity).

We Love You!

Just wanted to give a big shout out to all the fine people who can't seem to park their vehicle in between the lines . . . and I'm guessing you're the same fine people who are doing this sweet move as well (and a related question for all the litigators in the house: if I "accidentally" ding the car next to me in the parking lot when I open my door, but the car isn't parked between the lines, am I culpable?)

sentence of e e dave

i will no longer use caps 
and/or punctuation in my 
(and they
will be
much more
of this)
i hope you like
the new format
but if you don't
don't get it
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.