Dave Prevents a Race Riot With an Allusion to Mean Girls

I was showing The Manchurian Candidate  to my senior Composition class and I promised them a scene where Frank Sinatra does karate, and at some point midway through the film a group of girls yelled at me: "Where is Frank Sinatra? You said Frank Sinatra was going to do karate!" and I pointed to Frank Sinatra, who happened to be on screen, and I said "he's right there and you already saw him do karate" and one of the girls said, "Frank Sinatra is white? I thought he was black," and the rest of the girls on that side of the room concurred-- Frank Sinatra was most certainly a black guy-- and when I told them that was not correct, they expressed sincere disbelief that Frank Sinatra was an Italian American-- including an African-American girl-- and then an Asian girl yelled "Just because he has a soulful voice doesn't mean he's got to be black!" and then, just before the race riot, I nipped the whole thing in the bud with the perfect line, a line that only an extremely experienced high school teacher could come up with in a situation like this . . . I said, "Oh my God, you can't just ask why Frank Sinatra is white" in my best Gretchen Wieners voice, and everyone laughed and lauded me for a job well done (nothing is more important for a high school teacher than to have comprehensive knowledge of Mean Girls).

Bonus Sentence: The Lorax Needs to Write This Article

Here is the Star Ledger article about the car chase that started on our street; apparently a local dude was caught with drugs that he was intending to distribute and took off in a hurry-- and though the chase ended when he crashed into a police car, the article explains that no one was injured . . . which I suppose is technically true, but I think the writer should mention that there was some flora that suffered injury-- my beautiful tree that I planted and tended for its entire life . . . who will speak for the trees?

Three Bands: Three Long Songs (with occasional breaks for profanity)

The Stone Pony Summer Stage is a great place to see a concert: there's a beach breeze, it's not too loud, the shows begin early (doors opened at 5:30 . . . right in my wheelhouse), the beer is fairly cheap (5 dollars for a domestic, 6 for the fancy stuff) and there's plenty of space to move around; a bunch of us saw Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly and Mariachi El Bronx Friday night and it was a lot of fun (despite several mosh pit injuries-- Alec pulled his bicep and Rob suffered a stomped toe) although I will say it sounded like we heard a total of three very long songs: one hipster mariachi song, one extremely long Irish punk song, and one fairly long gypsy rock'n'roll song; in other words, the bands sounded great, but you couldn't tell one song from the next (also, Mariachi El Bronx are not from the Bronx, nor are there any Mexicans in the band, yet they dress like a mariachi band and do a lot of punk versions of traditional mariachi songs . . . and then curse a lot in English in between the songs).

Blood, Knife, Tooth, Sink . . .

Imagine seeing this vivid tableau soon after your son lost a tooth; you walk into the bathroom, and there's blood spattered on the white porcelain around the drain, and your son's pocket knife rests on the sink ledge . . . and you've been watching a lot of Parks and Rec with the boys and they love Ron Swanson-- who would be just the kind of guy to use a pocket knife to remove a loose tooth . . . but it turned out to be a false alarm, two unrelated incidents . . . Alex was cleaning his pocket-knife, which was covered with dirt, when his loose tooth fell out.

Can Duct Tape Really Fix Anything?

Yesterday afternoon, a bit after six PM, Ian and Catherine heard a loud bang on our front lawn-- they were in the kitchen-- and so they ran outside and saw the tail end of a wild car chase . . . a white car drove over the No Parking sign in front of our neighbor's house (causing the loud bang) and then raced across our lawn, clipping one of our trees; this caused the car's bumper and side mirror to come off (and he also knocked a huge chunk of bark off my tree . . .  more on that later) and then the car turned back onto the road and continued south on Valentine, pursued by five police cars (marked and unmarked) and though I was in the room closest to the incident, I missed the entire thing (I was in my music studio, wearing headphones, editing a podcast) and finally, from what we heard, the car plowed into a police road block on Benner, injuring the officer that was in the car . . . I can't find an article yet, but I will link to one when I do; Cat was freaked out because they were out on the front lawn five minutes before, unloading from a day at the pool, and I was freaked out because my beautiful tree, that I planted when Ian was born, suffered a severe injury, but the web tells me that if you duct-tape the bark back to the tree, the tree has a much better chance of surviving, so though it looks weird, I did it and I hope it works.

We Can't Spare a Square

The final message of Michael Tennesen's book The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man is that humans are probably going to go the way of the crocodylomorphs (crocodile-jawed creatures that existed 230 million years ago, just before the age of the dinosaurs, and "spread across the lands, evolving into different forms, from slender, long-legged, wolf-like animals to huge, fearsome animals that were the apex predators of the food web") due to various causes (overpopulation, starvation, disease, loss of native species, exhausted soil, global warming, rising oceans, ocean acidification, etcetera) and it will probably be-- in a geological sense-- sooner, rather than later . . . this is where the analogies come into play, because, despite our intelligence, humans have great difficulty realizing what a young species we are and just how ubiquitous extinction is; Tennesen uses Stephen Jay Gould's explanation: "if our planet's beginning is the end of your nose and its present is your outstretched fingertip, then a single swipe of a nail file wipes out all of human history" and I recently hear Louise Leakey describe it like this: if the history of life on earth is a 400 sheet roll of toilet paper, then the dinosaurs take up fourteen sheets and modern humans have been around only for the last millimeter of the roll . . . so we haven't existed long enough to wipe our own ass.

Don't Mention This Hypothesis to My Wife (or do it when I'm not around)

I'm not going to say this out loud, because summer vacation has just started-- which is awesome-- but the house does get disastrously messy because we are living in it a lot more, but still-- just entertain this for a moment-- isn't it possible that it might be more efficient to put dishes in the dishwasher once there is a whole pile of dirty stuff, instead of putting them in one at a time, right when you're finished using them?

There's a Fine Line Between Pedant and Douche-Bag

For the past few years, I've been correcting certain people over the grammatically correct usage of lie/lay . . . not all people, just my wife and kids (because they kept telling our dog to lay down and I couldn't stand it) and my fellow English teachers (because I think they should know better) and the occasional neighborhood kid (because if you're hanging out in my kitchen, eating my snacks, enjoying my air-conditioning, then I've got the right to correct your grammar) but I think I may need to give up the ghost because:

1) it's extremely annoying, and I'm already that guy enough . . . I don't need to add to it;

2) the battle may be lost . . . Roman Mars, the eloquent host of the phenomenal design podcast 99% Invisible, botched lie and lay twice in the first two minutes of the new episode-- "Freud's Couch"-- which, of course, features lots of lying down on furniture and laying out the structure of one's subconscious . . . but here's something even more interesting: though Mars makes the typical mistake with the verb (54 seconds into the podcast and then a few seconds later) and describes how Sigmund Freud would have his patient Fanny Moser "lay" down on his couch and then he explains that when "she was laying there" he would have her talk about what was running through her mind, but in the paragraphs summarizing and describing this particular episode, the error is corrected: "when Moser came to Freud, he would have her lie down on the couch, just like he did with his other patients," which means some neurotic copy editor heard the error and fixed it in print . . . and maybe that's how it will be from here on in, it's something to correct in writing, but something to let slide during conversation . . . on a related note, I'm not sure which is correct-- "just like he did with his other patients" or "just as he did with his other patients" . . . I don't know and I'm not going to worry about it.

There's a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever

When my wife watches Christiano Ronaldo play, she always makes a comment about what a beautiful man he is, and I think that's fine; on the other hand, I've felt a little awkward about opining on the attractiveness of players in the Women's World Cup (not that it's stopped me . . . especially when Sweden's Elin Rubensson was racing after the ball) and so I'm wondering how many comments are acceptable before it becomes gauche and sexist . . . I think the rules are slightly different than women's tennis, where it's literally impossible not to constantly comment on the attractiveness of the players, who often look like supermodels and are dressed in adorable outfits-- the ladies competing in the World Cup are much tougher, more daring, and less concerned about how they come off to the crowd than tennis players, and so in honor of their fierce play, I am going to hold myself to one (1) comment per half about attractiveness, and the rest of my commentary will be about tactics and soccer.

My Wife and Kids Outdo Me . . .

The boys and I were quite proud of our short film A Day Without Mom, which we presented to Catherine on Mother's Day . . . but that's nothing compared to the movie Cat and the boys made for me on Father's Day: A Day Without Dad has more clips, more transitions, better editing, more costume and set changes, and all sorts of other professional touches (but I will say that the filming of A Day Without Mom went smoothly and I never wanted to kill the children, but it sounds like Catherine's experience was slightly different-- Francis Ford Coppola trying to direct a couple of lunatic monkeys? -- because I talked to her on the phone just after she completed the project and she was close to cracking up).

Not Quite a Dream (But Just as Stupid)

Fans of Sentence of Dave know exactly how I feel about dreams (they are stupid and I don't want to hear about them, even if I was in them) but this sentence takes place in the gray area between sleep and consciousness, so even though it is dreamlike, I'm going to forge ahead: Friday night, after a fairly epic afternoon of food and beverage consumption, I started to watch an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but I fell asleep and when I awoke, I saw Red (Kate Mulgrew) on the screen and I thought to myself: she must be doing a cameo on Kimmy Schmidt and then I saw a number of other characters from Orange is the New Black on the screen, doing some kind of extemporaneous drama exercise and I thought to myself: they must have all the people from Orange is the New Black on Kimmy Schmidt . . . that's weird . . . and where is Kimmy Schmidt? and then I asked my wife if she was watching Orange is the New Black . . . which, of course, she was.

How to Be Interested in Politics . . .

I've been listening to Dan Carlin's political podcast Common Sense and while each show is a detailed and logical look at a specific issue (or issues), one of the themes is that the typical topics that Democrats and Republicans debate aren't very interesting . . . you either have to investigate the opinions of the outliers-- people on the far right and far left fringes-- or take a look on the things that the parties agree upon (such as trade agreements and the power of money and lobbying in our political system) if you want to find anything revealing; this is useful for me, because any time I start to follow politics and read about politics, I get so frustrated with the insincerity and the obfuscation and the avoidance of real issues, that I go back to reading/ watching anything else, which is sad (but probably how the politicians want it, better for folks to be opining on the machinations of the people in Westeros, rather than actually paying attention to what is going on in America).

Meta-Dinosaurs Fight Ghosts of Dinosaur Past

For the most part Jurassic World operates as billed: plenty of dinosaurs, plenty of cheese, and plenty of eye-candy (i.e. Bryce Dallas Howard) but there is something more to chew on at the core of this saccharine Tootsie Pop of a film; the dino-based island theme park Jurassic World needs a new attraction to "reinvigorate" the patrons of the park, and-- in an aesthetic meta-parallel-- the Jurassic Park franchise needs reinvigoration as well-- and, once again, the audience needs to learn the same lesson . . . that you shouldn't tamper with mother-nature-- so enter Indominus Rex, a genetically modified dinosaur that would enjoy this Radiolab podcast; the result is a movie about movies . . . we demand more and more entertainment from the summer blockbuster, but nothing can satisfy us . . . although, the climax of Jurassic World comes pretty close: the boys and I watched the movie in Imax 3-D and the final scene which pits Indominus Rex against a T. Rex (with a few extra twists which I won't spoil) makes a larger comment about the art of the action-sequel franchise, which is an ultimately an exercise in reductio ad absurdum which can only end in parody (and not only is there a meta-theme buried at the core of this movie, but the actors actually stumble upon the old Jurassic Park when they are lost in the wilds of Jurassic World . . . and as far as the cheese goes, there was a wonderful meta-moment when Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard were looking at a number of dead dinosaurs that Indominus Rex had killed but not eaten, and I whispered to my son Alex, "he didn't eat them . . . he's hunting for sport" and then a beat later Chris Pratt turned to Bryce Dallas Howard and said the exact same words, with the exact same intonation, and my son looked at me and said "Whoa!" and I had to explain to him that movie dialogue in this sort of story was very predictable . . . also, don't sit behind me and my boys if you go to the movies-- Alex and I both have a penchant for running commentary and Alex has a hard time whispering).

Rare Combination: Helium Balloons and Anger

I turned from getting some cash at the Wells Fargo ATM and saw something wonderful stomp down the avenue: a woman in a denim skirt with an intense scowl on her face, dragging five helium filled Mylar balloons behind her.

Hooray for Learning! Boo for Humans! Hooray! Boo!

I am reading two books right now, and it's like riding a mental rollercoaster; one is called How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey; it's a breezy, fun and scientific approach to all the counterintuitive things science has learned about memory, and it is full of handy facts about when to review for tests, the importance of testing on recall, how long after learning something you should review the material, and the percentage of time you should spend reading and the percentage of time you should spend recalling if you want to memorize lyrics or a poem; the other book is called The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man by Michael Tennesen, and while the tone of this book is also breezy and it's full of fun facts (some jungle frogs sit on their eggs like chickens!) it is mainly about how humans have done irreversible damage to the planet and we are really in for it in the near future: our soil is almost tapped out, we can't sustain the growing population, there won't be enough protein for the burgeoning middle class, we are in the midst of a great extinction, and the diminishing biodiversity is having all kinds of awful effects on the planet, with less biodiversity, diseases have an easier time spreading, new microorganisms are resistant to nearly every antimicrobial drug we have (and we aren't rapidly developing more) and the oceans are overfished, acidified, and low on oxygen (which is bad for fish but good for the giant Humboldt squid, which can survive in low oxygen zones, and also good for sperm whales-- which like to eat the squid-- and other breath holders such as elephant seals, and while this part of the apocalypse sounds awesome: an ocean full of giant squid and fish, it's still a major loss in biodiversity . . . and while I like calamari, I'm not sure I want to eat giant squid steaks every time I want some protein).

Mea Culpa?

Martin Seligman, who wrote Learned Optimism, asserts that it is mentally healthier to sublimate rather than ruminate-- if you suffer a setback, blame an outside force instead of yourself . . . this is how you avoid depression; I may have taken this to the extreme on Sunday, when I stubbed my toe on the short flight of stairs leading from the study into the kitchen (stubbed it hard, hard enough that I crumpled into a ball) and immediately blamed my wife for the injury, claiming that it was her fault because she "talked to me while I was climbing the stairs" and -- in my throes of pain-- I told her she shouldn't engage me in conversation until I was in front of her and stationary or that it could result in injury . . . I recognize the absurdity of this logic now, but it did make my toe and my ego feel better during the incident-- instead of being a comically injured spaz, I was an indignantly wronged victim.

Governor Christie, Try Cracking One of Those Old-Fashioned Books Of Which You Speak

Governor Christie makes some interesting claims in this video, including the opinion that teachers are "getting paid a full time salary for a part time job" and then he demands that, for the sake of the children, teachers work longer hours-- despite the fact that we are getting paid less every year (because of increased health care "donations" and increased pension payments . . . even though Christie refuses to pay what the state owes to the pension fund) and while he also believes that we should get rid of all those antiquated school books and instead give every kid an Ipad, he should try reading Elizabeth Green's book Building a Better Teacher so he can appreciate the productivity of American teachers, who spend far more time in the classroom and teach far more students than the countries that are tops in education (notably Finland and Japan) and while one of my recent goals is to follow politics more closely-- to start, I'm listening to Dan Carlin's podcast Common Sense-- but perhaps this is a bad idea if I'm going to be an effective teacher, as it's hard to teach when your blood is boiling.

Pool Anxiety?

My friend and colleague Kevin recently exhibited what I believe is a new mental disorder-- and not only did I identify this disorder, but I also figured out how to cure it; I'm calling the malady "pool anxiety" but the neurosis does not center around swimming in pools, it is an obsession with pool maintenance, so much maintenance that someone suffering from "pool anxiety" doesn't even find time to swim in his pool, because he is so consumed with maintaining the water clarity, the algal blooms, the filter system, and the chemical constituency and Ph of the water-- Kevin even claims that he possesses a strange pool precognition, a watery clairvoyance . . . he will point out a "cloudy" section of water to his wife, and she won't see anything wrong with the water, but then the next day that particular patch of water will be obviously cloudy, even to a layman . . . so he is somehow hyper-sensitive to these events; I am hoping my new disorder (which actually plagues people other than Kevin, he opened the floodgates on this topic) will make it into the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) someday, along with my simple cure: fill in your pool and join a swim club (I don't think the college kids who test the water chemistry at my pool have any anxiety at all).

This One is For You, Ben Franklin

Fellow English Instructor Kristyna was Appalled at the Lack of Capitalization in her Students' Essays -- her Students Claimed that unlike Microsoft Word, Google Docs does not Capitalize Words Automatically and these Students could not be Bothered to hit the Shift Key-- and my Postulation-- that Capitalization was Not Long for the World, was met with Ridicule and Scorn-- but if Ben Franklin were to read and Modern Prose, the Good Inventor would certainly think that the Future had already Eschewed Most Capitalization and He would probably agree with my Hypothesis.

Brains are Very Silly

Every semester, I show my Creative Writing classes the Monty Python and the Holy Grail scene where the knights discover Joseph of Aramathea's writing on the wall in the Cave of Caerbannog-- and I do this to show the illogic of having a first person narrator who dies at the end of a narrative, because Aramathea carves his last words into the wall: "he who is valiant and pure of spirit may find the Holy Grail in the castle of aaarghgh" (perhaps he was dictating?) but I always show the entire sequence leading to this scene, with the killer rabbit and the Holy Hand Grenade and even though I have seen it many, many times (I usually have multiple Creative Writing classes each semester) the rabbit and Brother Maynard's speech before the lobbing of the holy grenade make me laugh every time I watch, which seems strange to me-- I should get inured to the images-- but I'm wondering if something else is at play when we rewatch things, if our brain anticipates the joy from laughing and knows that this thing is associated with laughter, and so we laugh despite knowing exactly what is going to happen, or even perhaps because we know exactly what is going to occur . . . weird but also wonderful.

Just In Time?

When I pulled up to the gym on Tuesday, I saw flashing lights, a fleet of police cars, and an ambulance-- all parked in front of the dollar store . . . obviously something had happened and I had just missed it-- and while part of me wanted to duck into the gym and get on with my workout, another part of me wanted to rubberneck-- and that part of me won out-- so I wandered closer to the flashing lights and asked a youngish dude what happened and he said there was a fight between two women and that it was pretty epic and then he showed me a video of the fight on his phone-- so even though I missed the actual event, I got there just in time to see the video-- but this guy was no cinematographer and there was a glare on the screen so it was hard to see what was going on, but when I tried to bail on watching, he kept urging me to check out the next sequence, and while there were a couple of nice moments-- one girl maced the other and a guy in the background (a boyfriend?) kept saying "rock her! rock that bitch!" and then the fight moved into the dollar store and I could hear objects being thrown into walls (I made a joke to the guy and his girlfriend about how the damage wouldn't be all that expensive) and then the police arrived and got everyone involved to lie on the floor-- but it was tough to watch the altercation on such a tiny screen and I would have preferred a quick verbal summary instead of a rather long and unwatchable video, but once my nosiness got the best of me and I started watching this dude's phone, I entered some kind of compact with him where it was impolite for me to stop watching; perhaps we should give up on trying to get folks to read and write and speak more fluently, and just teach everyone how to perfectly frame a cell-phone movie.

Totally Hypothetical Situation

So a friend of a friend of a friend asked me about a situation-- and he said the situation is completely hypothetical and in no way, shape, or form based on any kind of reality: this friend of a friend of a friend wondered if a person wanted to line his back fence with large rocks, and he found a wonderful pile of large rocks at the park near his house, and most of them were below the tide line of the river . . . and suppose this person also had an old internal frame pack, and he (or she! it could be a she!) didn't mind destroying this pack while hauling the hypothetical rocks back home and suppose, every time this person took the dog for a walk, he went by the large pile and put a few large stones in the pack, until he had mined quite an enormous amount of rocks and put them along the fence, suppose this was the situation, then:

1) what is the legality of taking rocks from the park? . . . especially rocks that mainly reside below the tide line of the river?

2) how much damage could hauling large rocks in a backpack do to this hypothetical person's back and shoulders?

3) how much could the hypothetical rocks improve this hypothetical person's property value?

4) is this hypothetical person crazy?

Dreamland: You've Got to Try This Shit

You might find it ironic that I'm pushing a book about drugs this hard, but Sam Quinones non-fiction tour-de-force Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic is truly addictive . . . you won't be able to put it down, you won't be able to go a day without reading it, and you'll do anything to make some time for it-- if you can't afford it, then I recommend throwing a brick through someone's car window and stealing the change from their ashtray, or perhaps you could "find" some copper pipe and sell it for scrap; the book moves fast, short chapter spiraling through various settings in America and Mexico, and by the end you'll know more than you need about heroin production, heroin distribution, pill mills, the history of pain management, the Oxycontin economy, the gutting of industry in the American heartland, methods of rehabilitation, and methods of narcotic policing (and I'm giving this book Dave's Highest Rating in the Universe-- which is certainly a suspect rating due to my tendency towards hyperbole-- but I guarantee that it's better than all the other "land" things that I love: Methland and Adventureland and even Copland . . . although I do love Copland, especially when a half-deaf Sylvester Stallone portentously shoots the bulls-eye at the carnival) but if you don't have the time to read the book, here are a few of the things I learned:

1) black tar heroin comes from the smallest rural Mexican towns, called rancheros, mainly in the state of Nayarit;

2) nothing is harder to kick than the morphine molecule, and while you are addicted you will be constipated, and when you suffer withdrawal, you will get "ferocious diarrhea";

3) a perfect storm in the '90's kicked off America's mass addiction to opiates: health insurance stopped paying for multi-disciplinary treatments for pain, pharmaceutical companies lobbied to convince physicians that opiate based pain-killers were not addictive, and-- in the name of efficiency-- doctors took on huge caseloads of patients and there was a "defenestration of the physician's authority and clinical experience";

4) if you liked "The Chicken Man" from Breaking Bad, then you'll be glad to know there was a real version (named Polla) who, besides being a wealthy heroin kingpin, worked as a cook at a Mexican restaurant;

5) one of the best ways for a junkie to pay for heroin is with Levi's 501 jeans, which are coveted in the Mexican rancheros-- they are more valuable than cash;

6) it was really hard for addicts to hate the Xalisco boys, who were nothing like the archetypal drug dealer-- they were friendly, sometimes even personable and charming, they always offered "deals" to their users and they delivered, so people didn't have to hang around back alleys, and they never cut the product-- because they were paid on salary . . . the Xalisco boys prided themselves on customer service, they generally avoided violence, and when other folks from the rancheros opened up new "cells," which are like franchises, there would be friendly price-competition, or the cells would use junkies as "guides" and move on to new towns and cities, so they could avoid the gang-warfare that is traditionally associated with drug-dealing;

7) Chimayo, New Mexico is the Lowrider Capital of the World, and it has powerful cherry-red heirloom chiles, but it might be most famous for it's insanely high rate of heroin/opiate addiction, which has gone on for generations;

8) the number of Ohioans dead from drug overdoses between 2003 and 2008 was 50 percent higher than all the U.S. soldiers who died in the entire Iraq War;

9) the destigmatization of opiate drugs was based on academic papers without much real evidence (Porter and Jick is the most famous of these) but drug companies were looking for some way to green-light all their new opiate based medication;

10) in a three month period in 2012, eleven percent of Ohioans were prescribed opiates . . . one in every ten people in Ohio is legally on an opiate based medication, and-- because of this-- one of the best places to score heroin is not New York City or Los Angeles, it's Columbus, Ohio . . . and while the book presents a lot of alarming investigation, drug companies are getting the message, and making pain-killers that can't be smoked or snorted, and doctors are prescribing them less, and in Portsmouth, Ohio (where the book begins) while there are still junkies and hookers and dealers, there is also " a confident, muscular culture of recovery . . . a community slowly patching itself."

Dave Enjoys Chick Lit!

There are definitely some emotional womanly feelings in Liane Moriarty's novel The Husband's Secret (and some passages about marriage and friendship, and you have to keep track of a number of names and relationships) but it's totally worth it because Moriarty's plotting is fast-paced and tragically fun, and there's a fantastic sentence every couple of pages: for example, when hyper-organized super-mom/Tupperware saleswoman Cecilia Fitzpatrick learns an incomprehensibly implausible secret about her husband, she realizes "all these years there had been a Tupperware container of bad language sitting off to the side in her head, and now she'd opened it and all those crisp crunchy words were lovely and fresh, ready to be used."

Two Questions, No Answers . . .

Two questions I have been pondering:

1) does possessing a smart-phone make this generation of youngsters more adventurous with travel and food? . . . my wife and I went to Atlantic City for a one night vacation, and having a smart-phone made it easy to get off the beaten path and not get lost (we ate lunch at Wingcraft and watched soccer, and then later on, for dinner, we had appetizers and several kinds of raw oysters at the bar at Dock's Oyster House and then walked through Bally's Wild West Casino, which is a bizarre hodge-podge of architectural mayhem, including a completely inappropriate beer pong section, then wandered into the heart of Asbury for Dominican food at La Finca-- the lemon chicken was excellent and the mofongo was tasty but salty-- and then next morning we had an incredible breakfast at a hole-in-the-wall called Brittany Cafe down on Ventnor. . . we covered an insane amount of ground walking to these places, but we never got lost and they were all worth it, the smart-phone made it easy; I will be polling the youngsters to see if my hypothesis is true;

2) while we were at Brittanyy Cafe, we watched Serena Williams destroy Lucie Safarova (despite the fact that she had the flu all week) and I wondered what level of men's player Williams could beat; apparently when she was 16 she played Karsten Braasch (who was ranked 203rd) and he beat her 6-1 (he also beat her sister Venus) so the question is: what level male player could Williams beat? . . . could she beat a top ranked male college player? . . . could she beat a male club pro? could she beat a decently ranked male pro with a sprained ankle?

Kids Need to Learn Stuff

Recently, I've been a font of wisdom for the young people: I coined a new aphorism about poison ivy for my oldest son-- leaves of three, do not pee-- and I gave some invaluable advice to a student of mine, who stashed his very expensive philosophy textbook on a cart in the corner of the classroom, so he wouldn't have to carry it around in his knapsack . . . I told him: never hide something valuable on a thing with wheels, hide it in something stationary . . . because the cart is gone, someone wheeled it away-- as people are wont to do with carts-- and I've asked around, but no one seems to know who wheeled the cart away or where it is-- so this lesson is going to cost him some cash; my most committed readers will recognize that this lesson about not putting valuable things atop things with wheels is the seminal lesson from this blog, the thing from which all other sentences sprung (and those committed readers might also remember that I was far less prolix in those days).

The Universe Likes to Shoot Spicy Stuff into My Left Eye

Monday at lunch, when I opened a container of salsa to put on my taco salad, some of the salsa shot into my left eye-- but I scoffed at the pain, because it was nothing compared to this terrible incident-- but then later in the day, just after I had left Wawa, the universe punished me for scoffing at the pain, and when I opened a bag of jalapeno flavored chips, a piece of spicy chip flew into the very same left eye . . . and that hurt a bit more than the salsa, but I still scoffed at the pain and drove back to school with one eye, and so I'm sure the universe is extremely angry at my insolence-- and I'm also sure the universe will take this out on my left eye-- so don't be surprised if the next time you see me, I'm wearing an eye-patch.

Not Quite Eternal Recurrence

By June, I really start to feel like Phil in Groundhog Day . . . but (fortunately) the school year ends whether I perfect my attitude towards mankind or not (and it's looking like "not," as I'm just getting grouchier and grouchier . . . but this is good for the seniors, as it makes for a clean break without reminiscence or nostalgia; on a much happier note, my wife and I celebrated fifteen years of marriage yesterday, and that's a merry-go-round that I don't want to get off).

World's Most Talented Dad!

Initially, you might be impressed by my younger son's ability to simultaneously hula hoop and catch/throw a football, but after a moment of reflection you'll realize the real talent belongs to me, and is illustrated by the perfection of my tosses, which are both accurate and well-timed.

Horticultural Aphorism Revision

We've all heard "leaves of three, let it be," but my new and improved adage about poison ivy is even more vital-- my son Alex learned the hard way and he's taking Prednisone because he neglected to follow this simple rule: "leaves of three, do NOT pee!"

Sometimes Parenting Gets Weird

Usually, when we go somewhere as a family, I drive (because I can't do much else in the car or I get motion sickness) and my wife tells the children to stops punching each other, but Friday night, my son Ian-- an inveterate cheater-- illegally punched my son Alex during a game of "yellow car/punch buggy" . . . I wish I could explain the exact infraction, but I can't make sense of the byzantine rules of this never-ending game (Catherine also plays and there is a score and something crazy happens when you see a yellow Hummer or a purple car); anyway, apparently because Ian cheated, Alex was allowed to punch him twice in the shoulder, but Ian wouldn't let him and so Catherine, in very un-mother-like fashion, let Ian have it: "Stop being a baby and let him punch you! Give him your shoulder!" and I supported her position, but Ian still refused and when Alex got to close, Ian kicked him in the mouth, and now Ian is banned from the game, which is fine by me, because I was going to ban everyone from playing it, but maybe Catherine and Alex can do it in a civilized fashion.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.