This Test Sort of Goes To 11

On the 11th Episode of The Test, Stacey does NOT quiz us on our knowledge of This is Spinal Tap . . . instead, she focuses on current events, which are not my area of expertise (at one point in the show, I can't think of anything recent and bring up a related event that happened 112 years ago) but Cunningham and I survive . . . and even get a few right; follow this link and you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes . . . play along, score yourself, and get ready for the next episode where we have not one but TWO guests.

No Need to Worry, I Have Them All

If you're wondering where your extension cords went, apparently they attained autonomy and migrated into my junk room, where they've been hiding out behind the cabinets and in the storage bins (I found 23 unused extension cords in there . . . 23!)

One Summer, Two Stephen King Books

It's been a long time since I read two Stephen King books in one summer-- maybe thirty years-- but Finders Keepers is even better than Joyland . . . it's a compelling thriller, and at the heart of it resides a Salinger-esque writer who is King's antithesis: a well-reviewed artist scared to damage his legacy, scrawling away but afraid to publish . . . things do slow down a bit in the middle of the book, but press on, the ending will make you sweat: eight Moleskine notebooks out of ten.

Giant Apes, White Whales, Cheeky Monkeys, and a Can of Worms

It took two nights for my family and I to make it through Peter Jackson's epic 2005 remake of King Kong and-- despite the three hour running time-- everyone loved it . . . my kids loved the action, my wife loved the romance (especially the ice-sliding scene) and I loved how much the film reminded me of my favorite novel: Moby Dick . . . like Moby Dick, the story is too long, more of an adventure than a narrative, and both Kong and The White Whale are inscrutable violent natural forces-- a yin and yang of black and white, ocean and jungle . . . these creatures have nothing to do with idealistic environmentalism . . . let's save the dolphins and the panda bears . . . Kong and The Leviathan are far too frightening and primitive for that kind of sentiment, but at the heart of both animals is something deeply emotional and intelligent-- they are not monsters-- and because of this, they are both doomed . . . they go down fighting (and though Moby Dick breaks the Pequod in half and drags Ahab to his death, he is full of harpoons, wounded and hunted by man . . . he doesn't die at the end of the novel, but we all know what happened to the rest of his kin) and both King Kong and Moby Dick are stories of love and obsession . . . Carl Denham (Jack Black) has the same monomania for film and spectacle as Ahab does for the White Whale . . . both these creatures would be fine if left alone, but humans open the can of worms (or the barrel of monkeys, lots of metaphors here) and monkeys must meddle, it is in our nature, and then when we stare into the eye of the Other and call it monstrous, we have to wonder: who is the real monster?

Aleppo Causes Me Cognitive Dissonance

I'm having a hard time reconciling what I remember about Aleppo and what I have been reading about the city recently; an article in The Week called "Life Under the Caliphate" describes the some of the things happening in the region, which is mainly under control of ISIS:

1) unIslamic activities-- smoking, listening to music, wearing hair gel-- are punished by flogging, execution, and amputation;

2) there is video footage of gay men being thrown off tall buildings to their deaths;

3) Jews and Christians are given the choice to convert or die;

4) public executions and floggings happen nearly every day;

5) an ISIS pamphlet from Aleppo lists some crimes and punishments . . . drinking alcohol is 80 lashes, as is slander, spying for infidels and renouncing Islam both result in death;

6) women may marry at age 9 and should be married by age 16, and they must wear two heavy robes to conceal their figure . . .

and so I went back to the email updates that I sent from when I lived in Syria (200-2003) and looked at some of my recollections from our various trips to the city and surrounding regions;

1) we wandered through the Dead Cities, abandoned Byzantine olive-oil towns in the hills just outside of the city;

2) we watched Embassy folk collect ancient pottery shards at various tells and middens;

3) we stayed at the Baron Hotel-- the spooky but notable spot where Agathie Christie wrote "Murder on the Orient Express"-- drinking beer at the bar is right out of The Shining (but apparently, the place is closed down now):

4) our Syrian friend Yara told us tales of covered women in Aleppo that openly took lesbian lovers and I wrote a treatment for an erotic Syrian film:

the taciturn husband warns his wife not to leave the house for any reason, and then goes to play backgammon with his friends . . . a woman covered in black from head to toe shows up at the door, and the lady of the house invites her in for  tea . . . she lifts her veil and gives her host a long concupiscent look . . . soon enough she’s shedding her robe, and there’s nothing underneath . . .

5) we ate-- notably at the Beit Sissi-- drank, wandered the city and the region, were mobbed by Syrian children who treated us like rock stars, took tours with our favorite guide in the Middle East-- Jihad-- and generally felt like we were on vacation . . . Aleppo always seemed a little less oppressive and a little more Western than Damascus, a little more like Turkey . . . but apparently those days are gone, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this (I also read that ISIS beheaded the antiquities expert for Palmyra-- the spectacular Roman city in the Syrian desert-- because he refused to reveal where valuable artifacts were hidden . . . ISIS considers preserving ancient artifacts "akin to idol worship and punishable by death" and when they say that, apparently they aren't kidding . . . if you've got a strong stomach, you can watch ISIS sponsored beheadings all day on the internet, even some done by children . . . this really diminishes my concern over my basement beer fridge, which has lost it's ability to chill beer-- though the freezer is still fully operational-- at first I thought it was a crisis, but then I read about this stuff, and now it doesn't seem all that significant).

This Picture Is NOT Photoshopped (I don't even know how to use Photoshop)

While I was walking the dog in Donaldson Park, I saw in the distance a small tree, floating horizontally, levitating five feet above the ground, and then, after an awestruck moment, I realized that it was not completely defying gravity, but instead balanced on a slender slice of trunk . . . upon closer inspection, I could tell that the split was the work of termites, but my main thought was: I've got to get one of my children under this thing and snap a photo before it topples over . . . and while I may have put my son Ian in some degree of mortal danger, it was obviously well worth it.

Heavy Stuff in Small Packages

Guest editor John Jeremiah Sullivan chooses some heavy stuff for The Best American Essays of 2014; tales of sexual abuse, miscarriage in Mongolia, alienating illnesses, foreign deaths, candid sexual promiscuity and obsessive contemplation (even of joy) dominate the collection, but there are two "lighter" essays and both are worth reading:

1) "The Old Man at Burning Man" by Wells Tower, which describes a trip the narrator and his dying father take to the bizarre post-apocalyptic festival out in The Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada;

2) "Slickheads" by Lawrence Jackson, a description of a Baltimore gang war in the '80's between the Woodlawn slickheads and the Oxford preps . . . the language in this one is wild, inventive and colorful-- "yeah, they was popping and breaking, helicopter and all that, but that shit is for tourists"-- and there are lots of nicknames-- Pretty Ricky, Knuckles, Meechee, Charm Sawyer (and, if you listened to Serial, then you'll appreciate the references to Leakin Park).

Tchotchke Overload

We had a spectacularly sunny week in Sea Isle City this year; four families shared a five bedroom house with a beautiful view of the ocean-- and while the house itself was perfectly situated and also of new construction, our only complaint was with the interior: it was overloaded with tchotchkes . . . brass mermaid on the counter, wooden Italian man holding a pizza amidst various sized pottery, giant model ships, bowls of glass balls, a wooden canoe on the dining room table, strange ornaments on the toilets, little chairs on the landing, loads of throw pillows, etcetera . . . and everything was BIG . . . big couches and big chairs and a huge table on the porch that you could barely walk around and big wooden beds that couldn't be moved, something between Pottery Barn and Vermont farmhouse, and so all the kids slept up in the master bedroom, and the two littles guys got to sleep in a four corner poster bed-- ridiculous-- but none of this mattered, we only broke a couple of things and we'll probably get the deposit back, the only thing that was actually dangerous was a giant wooden mirror leaning against the wall at the foot of the stairs (there's a picture of it above) and when I saw it, I immediately put it behind a chair in the corner so that someone wouldn't put their arm through it, or worse-- so it wouldn't topple over and kill someone (one of the kids on the trip has CP and walks with sticks and occasionally leans on furniture for balance, so this thing was a hazard) and right after I put it behind a chair, the owner came in to check things out from the previous week and I thought he said he was going to do something with the mirror-- like remove it-- but we left to go to the beach and he put it back in its original location, so we had to move it again . . . I think in a situation like this, the owner has created an attractive nuisance of a house, and the deposit should be reversed and we should receive some money for making sure his giant Harry Potter mirror of Erised and his wooden boat collection and his various gewgaws didn't get destroyed.

The Yin and Yang of Soccer

In honor of Sunday, the most holy day, which has been deemed both The Day of Soccer (both travel and pick-up) and the Day of American Football, I will bequeath the internet a sporting thesis; soccer presents a perfect yin and yang of speed and deception, a player with a dearth of one can compensate with an abundance of the other-- when I was young I got away with lots of speed and a modicum of skill, but now that I'm old and slow, I need to add an element of trickery to every move I make-- and while other sports require these elements in some amount, it's not a perfect balance; basketball inordinately rewards height and this throws off the equation, and football prizes size and strength as well as speed (in fact, with enough size and strength, there's no need for deception . . . this is most blatantly illustrated by the fact that soccer players "dive" when they are fouled, while football players run forward for yardage-- whether they are being face-masked or not) and it is this simple balance of skills that makes soccer the most accessible game in the world and why there are infinite variations in how to train and play.

A Good Summer (So Far)

Summer is my least favorite season-- too hot and sunny-- but I shouldn't complain . . . as there are only two requirements for having a good summer if you live on the East Coast:

1) you don't contract Lyme's Disease;

2) you don't mistakenly wade into a patch of poison ivy;

the rest is bonus, the beach trips and the pool barbecues, the hiking and the tennis, the paddle-boarding and the garden plot . . . you can't do any of these if you're bedridden, on antibiotics, and oozing pus.

This One Almost Goes to Eleven

I'm especially proud of this new episode of The Test because I edited the entire thing on vacation on my ancient MacBook Pro laptop . . . I made a template with all the bits and pieces: the intro, the outro, the intermission and voice of God music; then I used some Garage Band effects to create the voice of God-- and I'm sure my fellow beach house residents thought I was insane, talking in the voice of God to a computer-- but I got it done: the episode is a bit spooky, because I use my clairvoyant powers to read Cunningham's mind and to predict Stacey's imminent demise, but I promise that you will learn the secret information that will enable you to date Cunningham . . . or at least meet her on a Tinder booty call.

Favelas and Futebol at the Copa

Juliana Barbassa's book Dancing With the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink is a frustrating and fascinating tour of Brazil's most celebrated city . . . you journey from the beautiful but polluted beaches to the lucrative but labyrinthine real-estate system to the seediest of brothels-- "at a place called Vanessa's Bar, the prices were posted on the wall, starting at $15 dollars for 15 minutes of straight-up oral or vaginal sex with protection"-- Barbassa details the history of the favelas (made famous in the awesome film City of God) and the slow improvements, including the firefights between police and gangs -- especially the Red Command-- and the UPP, police units stationed inside the shanty towns . . . and the current dilemma: the ongoing battle between the residents of the favelas and the city, which is preparing for the 2016 Olympics and attempting to raze many of the shantytowns; the Olympic Park is moving out into the far western suburbs of the city and there are caimans on the golf course and terrible sanitation and sewage problems, but Brazil managed to get it together for the World Cup, and Barbassa has faith that they will figure this one out as well; her chapter on living on Brazil during the cup is fantastic, especially her description of the awful 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany; she sat with her relatives and cousins and watched "dumbfounded" as the players came forward; team captain David Luiz spoke for all of them when he said, "I'm sorry everyone, I just wanted to give my people something to be happy about," and that is the theme of the book: the Brazilians are an emotional society that wants to live in the moment and be happy, partying on the beach, drinking beer in the street, dancing in costume to the samba during Carnival, but they are also realizing that to take a major place on the world stage takes planning and foresight, and they are slowly, with lots of bumps and hiccups, learning to do that as well; the book is excellent and really makes you appreciate living in America, which may not be the most efficient, most environmentally pristine country, but it sure beats the byzantine corruption, pollution, and class stagnation that Brazil is trying to overcome . . . the book ends on a hopeful note, and I think all the world is rooting for Rio to get cleaned up and do a fantastic job hosting the Olympics (except, perhaps, for the Uruguayans, who still relish their upset victory over Brazil in the 1950 World Cup in Rio and are angry that no one ever considers them for hosting major world events).

Another Trip to Sea Isle, Another LeCompt Show . . .

It was Sunday night and we were on vacation in Sea Isle City, so-- of course-- we were at the required LeCompt show, and while we were taking a break outside on the beach behind the Springfield Inn, checking out the newly constructed dune, and we saw something glittering and it was Mike LeCompt's sequined shirt: he stumbled through the sand and right up to us and said, "Whatever you're doing, I'd like to do it too" and after he regaled us with stories of whiskey, meth, and recovery and his tour of various seaside jails, and we all reminisced about old shows and his old band members, we realized that if we didn't nudge him back to the bar, there would be no second set, so Connell said "We've got to get back inside to see the band" and that reminded LeCompt that he had to go play, and then Connell requested that he play "Born to Run" to open the second set and he also requested that I should sing the "1, 2, 3, 4!" bit, which I was hoping to never do again because then people high five me for the rest of the night for my ability to count, but there was no escaping it and so I got shoved to the front, and LeCompt swung the microphone in my direction and I must be getting old, because I was a little slow on my delivery . . . the whole thing smacked of The Holy Grail . . . I only got to three before he yanked the mike stand back so he could power through the final verse; this might be the fourth time I've done the 1, 2, 3, 4! so it would be fitting if it was the last, but history tends to repeat itself at LeCompt shows, so who knows (and as a side note, this is the first LeCompt show I made it through without breaking down and buying some chewing tobacco during one of the endless breaks between sets, so I felt much better Monday morning though I was a bit grouchy during the show . . . especially when Lynn poured beer on my head) because I was jonesing for nicotine, it's hard for me to stay awake past ten without it, but I am using LeCompt as my inspiration and trying to completely quit; a big thanks to Dom for some diligent record-keeping during the show; because of his hard work, we have a fairly complete set list:

1) These Eyes (The Guess Who);
2) California Dreaming (The Mamas & The Papas);
3) Heart of the Matter (Don Henley);
4) Find a Reason to Believe (Rod Stewart);
5) Forever Young (Rod Stewart);
6) A Cat Stevens song;
7) Angie;
8) Ruby Tuesday;
9) Levon (Elton John);
10) Come Sail Away (Styx);
11) Piano Man;
12) Italian Restaurant;

13) Born to Run;
14) Suffragette City;
15) Behind Blue Eyes;
16) Bargain;
17) You're So Vain (Carly Simon);
18) Thunder Road;
19) What is and What Should Never Be;
20) Ramble On;
21) Here I Go Again (Whitesnake);
22) Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheran);
23) Bill the Kid (Billy Joel);
24) Easy (Lionel Richie);

25) Brandy (Looking Glass);
26) Dancing in the Moonlight (Van Morrison);
27) Heroes (David Bowie);
28) Young Americans (David Bowie);
29) Suspicious Minds.

This Sentence is about . . . Something

I listened to Harlan Coben on Freakonomics last week, in an episode called "How to Create Suspense" and he was so engaging that I decided to read one of his books . . . it took me three days to plow through Tell No One and I'm proud to say that I learned absolutely nothing, the book is pure plot and as-billed: it is very suspenseful . . . during the Freakonomics interview, Coben explains one of his methods: "if a person's dead, they're dead; I'm just trying to solve the crime . . . but if a person's missing, you have hope" and that's the main way he generates suspense in this novel, but he also alternates between first and third person narration, which limits the amount of information you receive into a very cautious flow, a drip from a spigot . . . and, as a topper, he's got Eric Wu wandering around, a dude from North Korea who endured some kind of harrowing childhood and now lives only to use his giant hands to torture humans until they break; aside from Wu, most of the characters are fairly stereotypical, but the book moves so fast, and the scenes are so vividly drawn, that it doesn't really matter, the purpose is to make you keep turning the page (or poking the edge of your Kindle screen) and the book serves its purpose well.

All Apologies

To the young lovers cuddling on the lifeguard stand and the lady combing the beach for shells and the the man driving the sand sweeper, I apologize for the view you had to endure: me striding out of the ocean in sheer gray spandex . . . after my morning run, I stripped down and took a swim; so if you're in Sea Isle City this week, and you like to head to the beach in early AM for some peace and serenity,  then I suggest you stay north of 45th Street.

The Long Goodbye

I am cleaning out my side room so I can expand Greasetruck Studios, but getting rid of the piles and piles of books I've acquired over the years is extremely difficult . . . the books I've read and don't remember are easy to part with, and I'm keeping the best books by my favorite authors, but it's hard to get rid of all the trade paperbacks-- even though I know I'll never read them, the numerous Philip K. Dick and Elmore Leonard and Clifford Simak novels-- but the font is too small and pages are yellowed and my kids will never touch them and I've got a Kindle . . . and it's also hard to get rid of the books that I bought but never read, the testament to my literary failures, but I didn't pick up The History of the Vikings for the last ten years, and it's been sitting there in plain sight, so I don't think I'm ever going to read it (the same goes for Bleak House and Finnegan's Wake . . . but I've still got aspirations for Nostromo).

Tragedy of the Commons (and Consciousness)

If you want to listen to something scary and frustrating, Planet Money 640: The Bottom of the Well is the one for you . . . or you could just enjoy my stream of consciousness recap: so there's no water in the well and pistachios and almonds take a shitload of water to grow, a gallon per nut . . . a gallon per nut! . . . but if I drill a very very deep well I can tap the rapidly diminishing aquifer and water my pistachio trees, even though the townsfolk in Porterville can no longer access fresh water from their wells, even though their taps have run dry . . . but that's not my problem, I see the irony, that they have to visit portable showers and sinks at a temporary water station, while they can actually see the lush farmland to the south of them, acres of pistachio and walnut and almond trees, but this is a boon for me, because the demand for pistachios and almonds is through the roof, and the supply is small, because they require so much water and India and China are going to buy them from someone and, honestly, if I don't dig a deep well and suck up that aquifer, then my neighbor is going to do it-- and he's a douche-- or the banks and the hedge funds will do it-- because this is an arbitrage situation, and you've got to take advantage while you can, and the aquifer should last another fifty years or so, and by that time I'll be retired and living in Florida or the Pine Barrens, where there is plenty of water, and you know what, it might start raining at any time, there's no law against it, so no reason for me not to make some money while the making is good, because if it's not me, it's going to be somebody else and then my grandkids can get the hell out of here, before the Mad Max scenario that some scientists envision comes to fruition . . . that would be wild.

Game of Thrones and The Peltzman Effect

While listening to an old episode of Freakonomics, I learned about The Peltzman Effect, which asserts that when things become safer, we compensate by taking more risks-- and while the theory has never been proven exactly as Peltzman stated it, that safety features and regulations are completely useless and even counterproductive, there is no question that the effect is real, just not as powerful as Peltzman envisioned; The Peltzman Effect certainly rears its ugly head in American football: helmets became safer and more shock resistant, and so players started using their head to initiate tackles (you don't see rugby players doing this very often) and though there are less fractured skulls, there are more concussions and brain trauma; you can also see the Peltzman Effect at work in Game of Thrones . . . two incidents come to mind, both having to do with heavy armour and the perceived safety that it affords;

1) when Bronn defeats Ser Varis Egan in Tyrion's first trial by combat; Bronn is wearing light leather armour and Ser Vardis has on heavy plate mail and carries a giant shield; Bronn takes few risks and generally keeps out of range-- he lets Ser Vardis exhaust himself with risky swings of his giant sword, and then carefully pokes and slices at him until he falls apart;

2) when Oberyn nearly kills The Mountain in Tyrion's second trial by combat; again Oberyn wears a light leather outfit and dances out of range, taking few risks with his long-handled spear, and if he wouldn't have let his guard down during his vengeful celebration, then he would have survived the battle instead of dying in the grossest manner possible . . . Kids in the Hall style!

Another Time, Picnic!

I know people are on vacation and someone out there is planning a picnic, but it's still nice to have a rainy day once in a while . . . when else are you going to watch Highlander with your kids?

I Need to Read Something With Jokes

The Last Coyote is the fourth book in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series, and it is a dark and existential one-- think True Detectives without the cute ending; Bosch is on involuntary stress leave because he assaulted his lieutenant, and so he has time to delve into the details of his wretched past . . . his mother was a working girl and Harry was taken from her by child services and placed in a youth home, and though his mother had plans to straighten out and regain custody, before that could happen she was strangled-- and the case was treated oddly, brushed aside and never solved . . . it reeked of corruption and foul play; at the start of this novel, Bosch finally decides that his life's mission is to look into it, though his police psychologist warns him against this course of action because she feels it will do him more harm than good-- but Harry Bosch takes advice from no man (or woman) and what he finds isn't pretty; Bosch is especially grouchy and irascible in this one (for good reason) and I think I need a break from him, I need to read something like Bossypants or Me Talk Pretty One Day, to restore my good spirits.

The Test Has a Logo!

Our podcast has a new home on Podbean, and Stacey designed an awesome logo . . . so play along, keep score, and listen for special guests-- TJ, Jerry, and God . . . also, Stacey and Cunningham mimic my judginess (and I consider it flattery).

The Infinite Picture Skit!

During my epic adventure last Saturday, at the Bond Street Bar and Grill in Asbury Park, a group of good-natured folks at a table near the shuffleboard game asked my friend Alec if he could kindly take their picture . . . and he did such a good job of it that I told him, "Alec! You've got to get in the picture!" and so he handed me the camera and ran over and got in the frame and I took a picture of the group along with Alec . . . now if Connell picked up on this and ran over from his end of the shuffleboard table and said, "Dave! You've got to get in the picture!" and he took a picture of the group with both Alec and me, and then we had forty or fifty more friends available and they kept doing this ad infinitum . . . well, you get the idea-- now somebody get out there and organize this and then show me the pictures and the video.

Free Apps!

Everyone is designing a phone app these days, so if you want in on the action, here are a few of my ideas:

1) dog to Spanish translator;

2) body hair maintenance scheduler . . . it's a little stick figure and various areas light up when it's time to trim-- ear, nose, beard, nether regions, etcetera;

3) an alphabetic communicator, so that you can send a message of written words to a friend without having to speak, and then (perhaps) your friend could reply back to you with a written reply, and this would all appear on the phone screen . . . this one seems the most promising of my ideas.

They Alive, Dammit! It's a Miracle!

If you haven't seen the Netflix original Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, then the plot is a hard pill to swallow-- Kimmy and three other women were held captive underground for fifteen years by a lunatic doomsday cult preacher, and when they were finally rescued, Kimmy made her way to New York City on a wing and a prayer and ends up living in a basement apartment with an out-of-work flamboyantly gay African American actor named Titus Andromedon-- but the theme song, perhaps the catchiest since "Cheers," explains all this visually and persuasively; I would suggest starting with episode ten, "Kimmy's in a Love Triangle," because Dean Norris (Hank Shrader in Breaking Bad) makes a cameo as Le Loup, a "straight coach," who counsels gay actors to act like a heterosexual dudes, so they get get more acting roles . . . the scenarios he devises are absurd and spot-on (and you'll find out why straight men don't drink from straws).

I'll Do It Her Way . . . Grudgingly

My wife was oppressing my creativity the other day; she was being very critical of how I put away the silverware --my method, which is a matter of personal expression, a stylistic choice-- NOT laziness-- is I chuck all the stuff in the drawer, real fast, I don't worry about dedicating particular slots for spoons or forks or knives . . . I came to the conclusion that this is the correct technique (even though that's how I've always done it) while reading A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder . . . but my wife didn't want to hear my theories on when you should NOT organize something in a top-down fashion, though it's easy enough to find what you need when you need it; I think silverware falls into this category, it's a pain-in-the-ass to get all the different cutlery into the correct slots, but it's easy enough visually to find what you need when you open the drawer, even if it's a disorganized mess, because the slots are shallow and the different items are visually discernible with minimum effort (I use this same method in my clothing drawers) but despite the fact that we live in Frank Sinatra's state of origin, after I listened to her threats and ultimatums, I've decided to leave this one alone and I'm going to do it her way.

Warning: Blood and Irony Ahead!

I was opening a box of band-aids in order to tend to all the cuts on my toes (from when I dropped a bottle of beer at the Ween show and some glass got into my sandals and I didn't realize it until later in the evening, when I looked down and noticed that my right foot was all red) and the band-aid box lid gave me a mean little paper cut, right on the cuticle, and so I had to use one of the band-aids from the box to staunch the blood from a cut caused by that selfsame box . . . and this leads me to believe that I am too old to attend rock concerts without sustaining injury.

Notes to Self After a Day of Complete Idiocy

When the sun rose on Saturday morning, I was feeling good about myself and the new day dawning . . . after breakfast I went and played some tennis with my son Ian and our guest Carl-- a ten year old boy from the Bronx who had stayed at our house the past week (my wife arranged this through the Fresh Air Fund, and Carl had never been to New Jersey, so we took him to the beach, to the pool, on a train, to an art museum, etcetera . . . it was exhausting because he had never been to any of these places, but he had a great time and it may have opened my own kids' eyes a little bit to how lucky they have it) and now it was time to take Carl back to the Fresh Air Fund office, which was in Manhattan (3rd Ave) and I volunteered to do this because then I was ditching my family and going to meet Connell and Alec in Asbury Park to see The Dean Ween Group, and as I walked out the door my wife said, "Don't forget to get gas" but-- son of a bitch-- I forgot and didn't remember until I was stuck in traffic inside the Lincoln Tunnel-- and this made me a bit anxious and claustrophobic, but I could see plenty of gas stations on the GPS map on the other side of the tunnel, and once we made it through, I tried to find one, but no luck . . . and then I was in downtown Manhattan on Saturday and the traffic was insane and there were a lot of people and tourists and construction, and I kept making my way towards the little gas symbols on the GPS and inevitably, when I got there, it was a construction site or a plaza or outdoor seating for a restaurant-- and I knew my GPS thing was out of date, but you need a doctorate in computer science to update it-- so I finally called my wife, who has a smartphone-- and told her I was going to run out of gas in Manhattan and I desperately needed her help, and she tried to help me, but every gas station she called was closed, or just a service station-- and during this sequence of calls to my wife, she said that I went through the five stages of grief, denial that there were no gas stations in Manhattan, anger that a city full of cars had no gas to run on, bargaining . . . that if I could just get to the office and drop-off Carl, then I could walk for gas, depression-- she said at one point I was "inconsolable," stuck in traffic between construction and parked cars and close to tears-- because what happens if you run out of gas in a spot like that? do they shoot you for being so stupid?-- and finally, acceptance, I was owning it, I was going to run out of gas in Manhattan and block up some traffic . . . but, luckily, this didn't happen and I got Carl to the office, told them my dilemma and listened to everyone lament the fact that there are no gas stations in Manhattan because of real estate prices, and then I ran on fumes to the one station by the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, drove home, packed my bag and guitar for an overnight stay in Asbury and went to meet my friends, and we went out and drank too much and then went to the Ween show and I dropped a beer bottle and the glass cut up my toes-- which I didn't realize until I went to the bathroom-- and then when we made it back to Connell's mom's condo, I realized that I had lost my wallet, and it was too late to go back to The Stone Pony and try to find it, so I ate some frozen pizza and went to bed, and I had to hang around until noon the next day, when The Stone Pony box office opened, and then I lucked out again-- they had my wallet . . . so quite a day, and all the bad things that happened were totally my fault, and I'm lucky things weren't much worse . . . here are my notes for the future:

1) there no gas stations in downtown Manhattan;

2) I will never drive a car in Manhattan again . . . I can't handle it;

3) I should listen to my wife;

4) if you are trying to get tickets early at The Stone Pony, and there is an Italian woman picking out t-shirts, you might be waiting a LONG time . . . this woman tried on so many shirts that we thought we were on a reality show -- and the girl working the counter was so angry with the Italian woman that she was mean to us too, when we said we just wanted three tickets she said, "Not until I'm finished with her" and glared at us . . . so this lady may have been picking out t-shirts twenty minutes previous to us getting there, and after fifteen more minutes, when her seven year old son, who was sitting patiently on a stool next to his dad, coughed or cleared his throat or made some sound, she chastised him back into compliance and he shrank back into himself (my kids would have trashed the place six times over) and then once she finally got the shirts in the colors she wanted, she got into an argument over the price . . . it was surreal;

5) don't carry too much stuff in your pockets -- i.e. hardshell sunglass case-- because when you leave the bar it will feel like you have your wallet, when you really left it behind;

6) do NOT wear sandals to a concert, especially if you're going to drop a bottle of beer-- which I did . . . I was passing up to Alec, who was right by the stage, and i thought he grabbed it, but he didn't . . . and glass must have gotten into my sandals and then everyone was stomping around and the glass got shoved into my toes and I didn't notice until i went to the bathroom and it was gross-- I'm lucky i didn't get an infection . . . this is similar to what John and I learned at The Cult concert in 1990 in Hampton Coliseum . . . Ian Asbury threw his tambourine into the crowd and there was a melee for it and John and I each had a hand on it and some other dude stuck his arm (which was encased in denim) through the hole and then John's face turned pale and then I felt sick and we looked at our hands and they were all bloody, cut by the razor sharp metal shaker discs, and John had to get stitches;

7) the key to Skeeball might be the bank shot.

More Dreams!

If I can't swing being a professional dog-walker when I retire, perhaps I will be an impersonal trainer, and inspire people to keep in shape through detachment: I don't really care if you do those sit-ups, because I'm watching this golf match on TV and not paying attention to you one bit . . . in fact, your fitness level doesn't interest me in the least, I'm much more concerned with myself, but I've read that doing the plank might be good for your core . . . but whatever, your choice, what do I care if you get in shape?

You've Got to Have Dreams

When I retire, I'm going to augment my pension by being a professional dog-walker!

Personal Inspection

I took the van over to the DMV on Route 130 to get it inspected, and I got to ride in the passenger seat while the guys did their stuff . . . I also got to see them tentatively push aside the piece of honeycomb sitting on our dashboard, blocking the inspection sticker; the guy said to me, "There's no bees in there, right?" and I said, "I hope not" and, of course, there were no bees in it, because it was several months old . . . my son Ian handed it to me after a hike-- because kids pick up everything-- and asked if he could bring it home, and I stuck it there and it became a decorative item, hexagonal compartment visible through the windshield, and we never thought much of it until this moment at the DMV.

A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.