If Everyone Else is Juicing, How Can I Compete?

I recently learned that a number of people in my English department are "juicing" and have been at it for quite a while . . . they are drinking daily concoctions of kale, carrots, bananas, berries, yogurt, spinach, lime, and other healthy foods . . . and no one informed me of this shocking development (in fact, I learned about it rather randomly when a perfectly sensible guy said he was thinking about purchasing a $400 dollar Vitamix blender, which astounded me, but I then learned that everyone in the room -- five people -- were all liquefying vegetables and drinking them) and so now I'm wondering if I have to start drinking my vegetables just to keep up with the other teachers, who are obviously going to reap incredible benefits from these glowing green smoothies: clear complexions, full heads of silky hair, super-cognitive speed, boundless energy, the disappearance of hang-overs, and other various superpowers . . . but I don't really want to start slurping kale and carrots for breakfast, so I'm going to hope that it's just a phase, and that everyone will go back to eating normal crap soon.


Roger, Do It For the Children! (Or Most of the Children, But Not the Children in Shakespeare Class)

It's time once again for my annual epistle to Roger Goodell, beseeching him to move the Super Bowl to Saturday, and this year the impact of Super Bowl Sunday is worse than normal . . . typically, I start teaching Hamlet the Monday following the Super Bowl, which is difficult enough, but this year, because we've already had three snow days and the semester is off kilter, the Monday following the Super Bowl is an exam day . . . and a few of my students are stressing out because they have to stay up and watch the Super Bowl and they also have to take two exams the next day (luckily, this won't effect my period two class, though they have their exam on Monday morning at 7:26, because it's my Shakespeare class and they have admitted that they DO NOT watch football . . . when I asked if anyone knew the details of Peyton Manning's cervical fusion surgery, they all looked at me blankly, and a very smart girl said to me, "this is SHAKESPEARE class -- we don't know things like that.")

Lack of Sentence and an Idea for a T-shirt Wrapped into One Half-Assed Fragment of Thought

Last week, I had a really great idea for a sentence while I was talking to Alec at the pub, but the next morning, I couldn't remember it (and while that is an atrocious sentence, as far as content, the theme itself would make a great t-shirt: Dave went to the pub and all I got was this lousy sentence).

Facebook Stock Plummets! Dave Buys New Snowboard!

You don't need to read Dave Eggers' overly long and polemical book The Circle to know that Facebook is a vast evil time-suck that trivializes your life, robs you of your privacy, and makes you very stupid (and -- full disclosure -- I just sold some Facebook stock short, so I'm hoping that the rest of humanity reaches this conclusion too, and rapidly . . . and if this Princeton study is any indication, then -- like an infectious disease -- the Facebook epidemic will soon wane, as folks become immune to its infectious qualities and I will make hundreds of dollars).

FOOD!

Sometimes, I get so hungry that I've got to eat before I sit down to eat.

It's Good to be the Cook


The Danish film A Hijacking taught me three things: 1) if your ship is taken by Somali pirates, everyone on board -- including the pirates -- is held hostage by the ransom negotiations 2) if you're trapped on a boat, nobody in their right mind shoots the cook 3) Somalis and Danes drunkenly singing "Happy Birthday" in English is really creepy.

You Might Only Want to Read 1/2 of this Sentence

The folks at work claim that my braided belt is from the '90's, but that's not true -- my braided belt from the '90's disintegrated long ago, and this braided belt is relatively new and I bought it at Kohls . . . and I really tried to wear a more fashionable belt but the problem with non-braided belts is that there are a limited number of holes, and so if you gain or lose a few pounds, or eat a giant lunch, then there might not be an ideal belt setting for your particular girth at that moment, and I like to buy my pants a little big, and so I actually need a belt to cinch them at the waist, because I'm not buying the pants big for my gut-- which isn't all that big-- I'm buying the pants big for my butt, which is ample and round, and needs room to breathe.



Batting A Thousand (Sort of)

I saw three ex-students out-of-context in the span of three days and nailed all of their names:

1) saw a girl I had many, many years ago at a concert at The Saint in Asbury Park-- where her younger brother was playing drums in a band with one of my colleagues-- and though she is over thirty and has a kid and a house and a mortgage, she was far more surprised that I have kids and a house and a mortgage . . . "Mr. P. is all grown up!" was her reaction;

2) saw a dude I taught a few years ago stocking beer at the fancy beer store -- although I this one was a Texas-leaguer, as I only remembered his last name;

3) and, finally, an easy one . . . I saw a girl I taught last year lurking in the high school parking lot (there's nothing lamer than hanging around the high school once you've graduated, but -- to her credit -- I think she was waiting to give someone a ride).

Not Surprising . . .

Building a cardboard box in which to ship a banjo is harder than you think.

Despite All the F*%king Grading, There Are Some Fun Things About Being a Teacher

One of the great things about being a teacher is that you get to teach people things, and so when I show Marshall Curry's fantastic documentary Street Fight to my students it is ostensibly to teach them about politics, but the actual reason I show the film is so that when Cory Booker's campaign manager compares Sharpe James to former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, I get to pause the film and explain to my students about Marion Barry: who he was, what he did, and how-- despite what he did-- he got elected again (and it's a great excuse to say "crack cocaine" in class, which is always a crowd pleaser among the high school seniors . . . and I must warn you, if you're one of those people who like to watch movies in silence, with no pauses or interruptions, then you should NOT take my class, because I consider showing a movie in class more of a performance art: you are seeing a movie with Dave, who might pause it at any time to comment, or might not even bother to pause it . . . it's the educational version of Mystery Science Theater 3000, without the robots).



A Loooooooong Week for Ian

By Wednesday afternoon of last week, this was the list of Ian's infractions at school, as reported by his very forgiving and patient teacher on his behavior sheet: putting his middle finger down (instead of up, he claims he was taunted into doing this, but he knows better), putting the cap to the glue stick up his butt and then giving it to someone, getting caught erasing the details about the middle-finger episode and the glue stick/butt incident and so not only did his behavior sheet include an addendum (written in pen) describing those two previous incidents, but it also explained that Ian claimed that he "accidentally" erased that part of the note -- though he admitted to me that he did this in order to get in less trouble, and -- finally-- he got into an argument with Lucy and called her a "buttface buffoon."

My Wife and I Agree on How Not To Lose Your Shit

When I go to the gym, I leave my wallet and cell-phone in the glove compartment of my car because I think that there is a greater chance of my gym locker being broken into rather than my run-of-the-mill gray Toyota min-van, and I asked my wife what she does, and she uses the same strategy . . . for the same exact reason (though she drives our run-of-the-mill Subaru) and since my wife and I rarely agree on questions of logic, I am guessing that we are doing the smart thing for this scenario.

Sports: The Reason Why I Don't Invent a Bunch of Cool Stuff for the Internet

While reading George Packer's fragmented and arresting book about the fragmentation of America (The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America) I learned why I am not more like Peter Thiel -- who has a long list of entrepreneurial and technological achievements, among them co-founding PayPal-- because to get hired by Thiel you not only had to be "incredibly smart" but also "without distracting obligations like wives and children or time-wasting hobbies like sports and TV . . . one applicant was turned down because he admitted to enjoying shooting hoops."

If . . . Then . . . But

Wednesday morning . . . 5:45 AM . . . and it's so foggy that I can't see the end of the road-- if I wasn't with my trusty canine companion, it would have been very spooky and that's the great thing about having a dog, you always have someone to accompany you on a walk, no matter the situation -- but, of course I should point out, if it wasn't for my trusty canine companion, I wouldn't have been walking around in the fog at 5:45 AM, I would have been in bed, or indoors, and that's what's not so great about owning a dog.

Layers and Layers of Irony and Failure

Nothing makes me more unhappy that enforced pep (you may remember my difficulties when I was compelled to "Dress Like a Holiday") but rather than suffer the ire of certain female members of my department, I now begrudgingly go along with whatever spirit theme is chosen, and so on Wednesday, I wore the required uniform -- black shirt and pants, glasses, and a beret (I only wore the beret momentarily, for "check in," but that's still pretty spirited for me) -- and our department followed suit . . . we were supposed to be Beatnik poets, but I thought some people looked like French painters and others looked like college graduates . . . but we did well enough with our department unity to tie the business department, and since the math department came up with this contest idea, they administered the tie-breaker . . . a math test . . . mano a mano . . . by someone chosen from the department, and so --ironically -- my department chose me to take the test, because though I am the least spirited member of the department, I am pretty good at math (and even taught it, long long ago) and so this set-up the wonderful possibility that the person who really didn't want to "dress like a holiday" would end up being the department spirit hero . . . and so I e-mailed the math teacher administering the tie-breaker and we set up a time and she told me to bring a calculator . . . and that's when I realized that this might actually be a math test and not some math riddle or math trivia quiz or something fun and spirited . . . as we were dealing with the math department, not the English department, and this made me a bit anxious, and it turned out I was right: I had to take a ten question quiz with algebraic equations and number lines and solution sets . . . and this test, in mathematical terms, was 0% fun, but I still felt confident taking it (which means nothing . . . I always feel confident when I take math tests and I've gotten some really abysmal math grades in my life) and I remembered all my acronyms: SMATO (subtraction means adding the opposites) and Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally and FOIL (first outside middle last) and was proudly reciting them to the proctor of the test as I did the problems, and -- for a moment-- I thought I just might be the least spirited department hero ever . . . Cinderella story, underdog victory and all that, but my lack of spirit must have caused some kind of karmic justice; I got a 90% on the quiz-- pretty good, but not good enough, as the guy from the business department got a perfect score (and I really should have got them all right too, but I missed a pair of absolute value bars in the first question, I think I saw them as parentheses, and -- always my problem in math -- I didn't check over my work well enough) but I'm going to try to parlay this ostensible failure into a success . . . I am so distraught and humiliated at my crucial role in our defeat that I can't bear to take part in any other spirit days, or it will remind me of the trauma of this one (that's my story and I'm sticking to it . . . and if there is a moral to my woeful tale, it is this: if the math department says that they are giving you a math test, it's going to be a math test).

Persistence and Patience Pay Off (When You're Dealing with Poop)

A few months ago, I rode through some dog-poop and the poop got all wedged in my bike's knobby tires, and I didn't feel like scraping the poop off the tires with a stick, or spraying the poop off with the hose, so I decided to let the poop alone (winter was approaching) because it was cold, so I figured it wouldn't smell, and I knew once I rode my bike enough, the poop would take care of itself and fall off on its own . . . and now -- months later -- my tires are finally poop-free (aside from a few globs of poop on the edge of the front tire, but I'm sure that will work its way off soon enough).

Caloric Categorization

The only healthy snack that satisfies me is a quartered apple with globs of peanut butter on each slice-- but sometimes I pour chocolate chips onto the peanut butter, and then I'm not sure if it's still a healthy snack, or if it has crossed the line into the territory of a "dessert."

Two News Stories People Can Relate To . . .



I'm plugging away at After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead and though I've read more than a few books on this topic, I'm still learning a lot from Alan S. Blinder (did you know that the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act probably didn't have much effect on crisis? fascinating, right?) and while understanding the never-ending saga of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown of 2008 is close to being a job, not all news stories are so dense and difficult; last week was especially good for engaging and easy news . . .  first there was the "polar vortex," which everyone enjoyed talking about-- I enjoyed all the fun facts: parts o Minnesota are colder than Mars! New Jersey is colder than Antarctica! and Alaska!-- and the other great story (especially if you live in New Jersey) is Bridgegate, and while I don't think Chris Christie is stupid enough to be directly involved in this fiasco, I sure hope he is . . . and everyone I know is rooting for this outcome as well-- it just seems like the act that will define him-- and it's so much easier to understand traffic and revenge, as opposed to economic policy . . . and if you're one of the seven people in America who hasn't seen the John Stewart bit on the topic, check it out.

If I Could Leave You With One Profound Thought . . .

If you like "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" type stuff (men are waffles and women are spaghetti?) then you have to listen to the first act of This American Life Episode 14 (Accidental Documentaries) where you will hear a husband and a wife sending an audio "letter" to their son in medical school -- the tapes were made in 1967, but they were discovered long after the parents died and the son gave Ira Glass permission to use them on the air . . . but if you don't have time for the entire episode, then go twelve minutes in and there is a fantastic Carlin-esque baseball/football type point-to-point comparison of how men and women communicate . . . mom is discussing spirituality, her depression, and how much faith her husband has, and then there are quick cuts to the dad telling corny jokes and talking at length about some weird machine he is building in the basement for the family business . . . though these two are married, they aren't even living in the same universe and then twenty four minutes into it, dad leaves the son with one last "profound" thought, which is priceless (I played these bits for my high school classes and they loved them).


Dave Invents a Phrase: Parental Capital


Once upon a time, I learned not to take family viewing recommendations from people without kids, but I completely forgot this lesson a few weeks ago-- and when the twenty two year old student teacher suggested the animated comedy Bob's Burgers . . . she said the show is "cute and sweet" and not as crass as The Family Guy, and she's right, but it's still completely inappropriate for my kids -- there's lot of sexual innuendo (including geriatric sexual innuendo) and plenty of jokes about venereal disease, flatulence, cannibalism, dinner theater and other offensive topics . . . and, of course, it's their favorite show ever and because I set the precedent and let them watch it, I can't rescind this without losing major parental capital (and I'm glad, because Bob's Burgers is the first thing that they like to watch that I totally enjoy, Dr. Who is okay, but still a bit campy for me . . . and I'd also like to state that I think I am the first person to ever use the phrase "parental capital" as a parallel to "political capital" and I think the analogy is not only apt, but also super-awesome).

I Prefer to Watch

The difference between coaching soccer and coaching basketball is the difference between watching a squadron of fighter jets and piloting one of them.

Some Thoughts on Radishes, Red and Black

Apparently black radishes are not the same as red radishes . . . I thought I was getting away with something at the vegetable market the other day, when I bought black radishes instead of red radishes-- because I like red radishes and the black ones were a lot bigger, so I figured it would be more radish with less washing and peeling, but black radishes are more like a turnip-- kind of woody and starchy-- and you can't eat them in big chunks, the way I eat red radishes (people in my office think it is weird that I eat sliced radishes and Laughing Cow cheese, and when I explained to them that radishes are delicious, some of the teachers tried them, and one sarcastically remarked: "that's a flavor?")

If I Had A Million Dollars . . . I'd Probably Lose It in the Market


Though it's no literary masterpiece, I highly recommend What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars; Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan give a candid account of Paul's meteoric rise and fall in the futures industry, and along the way, you learn the difference between a gambler, a trader, a speculator, and an investor . . . and why speculators suddenly decide they are actually investors (just after the stocks they own take a nosedive) ; this is a book about human psychology and how it needs to be subverted in order to be successful in the market; the secret is to be like Ayn Rand -- when she was asked if gun control laws violated the Second Amendment, she said: "I don't know, I haven't thought about it" . . . but it's really hard to take that sort of objective and rational approach when you're dealing with your money.



If I Were Subjunctively Rich

People who are not rich usually have an "if I were rich" statement, and this statement is usually designed to show that if this person happened to become rich, they wouldn't be terribly ostentatious and vain and gauche with their new found wealth . . . for example: if I were rich, I would just want to throw big parties for all my friends . . . if I were rich, I wouldn't want a new house, but I would redo my kitchen . . . and so my version of this statement is: if I were rich, I would get a massage every other day (every day sounds too greedy, which is why I say every other day, so I don't sound so extravagant with my hypothetical money).



Ian Demands Content

My eight year old son Ian would like me to report to you that on New Year's Eve, while he was fast asleep on an air mattress several feet away from me, I heard him laughing uproariously in his sleep (and this was excellent to hear, far less creepy than hearing someone talk in their sleep, and far less dangerous than sleep-walking . . . read this fascinating book for more on this theme).



More Than Your Typical Serial Killer Mystery

The Cold Cold Ground, by Adrian Mckinty, is so much more than your typical police-procedural-hunt-down-the-serial-killer mystery; it is set in 1981, amidst "the troubles" in Northern Ireland, and Belfast is close to complete anarchy . . . Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop (or "peeler") works on an entirely Protestant force, and has to investigate a killer targeting homosexuals while navigating a byzantine world of IRA heavies, hunger strikes and the death of Bobby Sands, Protestant Militia groups, and angry unemployed locals . . . but the book still has a sense of humor (quite a bit more than this film) and some romance between the murders, riots, and explosions; a quick read that takes you back to a chaotic time with which Mckinty is extremely familiar: nine severed hands out of ten.




Too Close For Comfort

I stumbled on a website called Thoughts of Dave and this really worried me -- is he the original Dave? -- but luckily he's not the original Dave, I am the original Dave, as his first post was in December of 2007 (The Ultimate Martini Recipe) and Sentence of Dave started WAY before that . . . in November of 2007.




Dave Solves a Grammatical Mystery All By Himself

Ironically, though this blog is a grammatical nightmare, I solved a grammatical mystery without referring to the internet: I was reading Alan S. Blinder's book After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead and I noticed that in the phrase "an FDIC insured bank" there is the use of "an" before a consonant -- but a consonant in an abbreviation-- and I wondered why this was so, and then I remembered when Keanu Reeves says to Patrick Swayze "I am an F!B!I! agent" in Point Break and you also say "an X-ray" and "an NBA game" but you say "a WNBA" game and it is because when you say the name of certain consonant letters . . . and you only do this in abbreviations . . . then these consonant letters begin with a vowel sound (so for "F" you say "eff" and for "X" you say "ex" and for "N" you say "en") and so the article matches the sound of the letter, not the designation of the letter, and creates an interesting exception to the rule (or at least I find it interesting, but I'm sure most of you are asleep by now).



My Children Weren't the Only Animals in Florida


I would never visit the Naples Florida area again -- too much driving, too much development, too many strip malls, and too many cars -- but the paradoxical thing is that in between car rides (and boat rides) we saw an enormous amount of flora and fauna; we visited several parks (including Delnor-Wiggins State Park, Barefoot Beach, Keywaydin Island, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary) and here is an incomplete list of the stuff we saw: Cuban brown anoles, Cuban tree frogs, snowy egrets, ladyfish, lizard fish (apparently, you can put any word in front of "fish" and it is a legitimate fish) blue runner, mangrove snapper, spanish mackerel (we were catching these fish in a boat, and as we reeled them in the dolphins almost ate them, and -- according to my dad's friend-- the owner of the boat-- dolphins occasionally jump in the boat chasing a fish . . . and after we caught the fish, we fed them to the dolphins, which was very fun) a bunny, a bald eagle catching a fish, osprey, pelicans, cormorants, LOTS of big alligators, a baby alligator, a wood stork, a hawk, blue herons, green-backed herons, tri-colored herons, a yellow-crowned night heron, vultures, ibis, sandwich tern, kingfishers, woodpeckers, raccoon, big turtles, snook, alligator gar, a giant water spider, and a school of rays (which Alex and I saw while standing on a paddleboard, and from that vantage point you realize that there's all kinds of stuff swimming around you in the gulf, and that it's best not to think about it).

My Kids Are Those Kids?

So there you are, relaxing poolside, reading a book or closing your eyes for a quick nap . . . and you hear a family with a couple of kids arrive and they absolutely ruin the vibe: these kids are loud, and they fight, they splash with the intent of blinding each other, they bicker violently, scratch and dunk each other, attempt dangerous stunts, dive where they aren't supposed to dive, run where they aren't supposed to run, and whip a ball at each other instead of playing catch with it, and then they finally have to be reprimanded by their parents . . . and I am very sad to report that these kids are my kids, and wherever they go, they destroy whatever mood existed previously, and no matter what we do -- short of beating them senseless in public -- my wife and I can't get them to stop being like this; I think because they are so close in age, they live in their own little universe . . . they don't notice other people or their surroundings, and perhaps someday this will be a benefit -- they certainly aren't self-conscious -- but right now, they are the scourge to anyone lying in a lounge chair with a book.

One Fish Two Fish Blackfish Blue Fish


I highly recommend the documentary Blackfish, which focuses on the dangers of keeping killer whales in captivity (especially one particularly large and incorrigibly uncontrollable whale: Tilikum) and my wife and kids loved it too, but I should warn you to strap yourself in, as there are some graphic moments: you see some footage of the attacks (and seventy killer whale attacks have been documented, all of them occurring when the whales were in captivity), including the recent one where Dawn Brancheau is killed (but while director Gabriela Cowperwaithe allows you to witness more than Werner Herzog does in Grizzly Man, the footage is just to get an idea of what the whales are capable of, and stops short of being a gratuitous snuff film) and you will also see a killer whale penis-- my son Ian commented: "that wiener is bigger than me"-- and learn about the killer whale version of impotence (male dorsal fin collapse) and while my son Alex's review of the film was flawless: "epic but scary," my younger son said the movie was "awesome" but he only gave it "four and a half stars" because "it was missing something" and it turned out that what he thought was missing was "really good" footage of the attacks . . . but once my wife and I explained to him that these were real people that died, and that their friends and family might be watching the movie, then he understood why they didn't show the entirety of the violent scenes; this film is eye-opening and compelling, and it will certainly make you rethink your trip to SeaWorld (or the ersatz Canadian version, SeaLand).

Dave Resolves to Do Some Stuff

This year, I resolve to write shorter sentences . . . terse, grammatically correct sentences . . . sentences that are brief and full of pithy wit and wisdom, and I'd also like to lose a few pounds (actually, more than a few . . . I want to lose 13 pounds) and I would also like to finish my album and learn to play piano and I want to lose my temper less with my children (unless they really deserve it) and I'm also going to appreciate the holiday season more and not gripe so much about materialism and consumerism and the environmental disaster that is wrapping paper, and I'm not going to lie any more either.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.