The Best Gifts Don't Even Come in a Package

The kids and I decided to go cheap and painful this year with my wife's birthday gift: next week, we are going to do all the cooking, cleaning, and dishes so that Catherine can put her feet up and live like a queen while we slave away . . . and this present doubles as a tactically preemptive strike that might deter another two week cooking strike (and while Catherine loved our utilitarian present, our friend Melanie trumped it by sending Cat this fabulous 90's picture of young Dave and Cat about to embark on a bar crawl called Just Hair-Do It).

Tuition Wars

So here is my idea for a reality TV show . . . and I wish I had the gumption to actually do it: I tell my two children we are going to pay for one of them-- and only one of them-- to go to college, and thus pit the two of them against each other in a tactical battle to ascertain the scholarship: they could use any strategy they like to "win" the money . . . they could devote themselves to the family and do lots of chores and cooking and cleaning, or they could excel at school or in the arts or in sports or they could demonstrate extreme philanthropy or whatever . . . the main thing is that I would film every ugly minute of it and the show would make loads of cash and in the end, the big surprise would be that they both get to go to college, their education ironically financed by the very show that nearly destroyed them.


It's doubly annoying: not only do I have to take a day off of school so I can accompany my son Ian on his Initial Orthodontic Workup, but I then have to meet with the unfortunately named Dr. Overcash to discuss our plan of action; I already know braces are going to be expensive, but a name like Overcash is just rubbing it in-- not that I'm an anti-dentite-- he's a very nice guy and I trust and respect him, but it's certainly one of the worst dental names I've ever heard (unlike the aptly named pediatric doctor who cared for my son Alex when he got hit by a car last year . . . nothing assuages the anxiety of a trip to the emergency room more than a guy who introduces himself as Dr. Pepper).

Biathlon Lovers Beware

Our friends Rob and Tammy (who moved from central Jersey to Vermont many many years ago) stopped by on Saturday and they reminded us that back in the old days-- when we would trek up to their place for Thanksgiving-- the ski mountains were always already open and we'd get in a couple days of November riding over the long weekend . . . but these days, they said the mountains no longer open until December-- so some pretty specific climate change that's happened right in front of our eyes, in the last fifteen years . . . on the bright side, the boys and I have been out playing tennis every day since soccer season ended (and the same happened last year . . . I wonder if this generation of kids is going to be, on average, better at tennis and other warm weather sports and worse at snowboarding and skiing and snowshoeing and the biathlon).

All Hail Professor Truck

Finally got this song to sound the way I imagined it in my head.

That Prop is a Hero!

I learned a new term during the latest 99% Invisible: a "hero prop" is an item in a film that has a life of its own and serves more as a character than a component of the background story . . . my favorite "hero prop" is Marcellus Wallace's glowing briefcase in Pulp Fiction (but I'm also a fan of the Leg Lamp in A Christmas Story).

I AM the Internet

Let's all take a moment and celebrate ten years of Sentence of Dave (ten years man! ten years! ten years . . . TEN . . . ten YEARS . . . ten years!) and in order to really understand what this means, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and apparently-- and this was as shocking to me as it will be to you-- I am responsible for 85% of the original content on the internet (my buddies over at Gheorghe: The Blog are responsible for most of the remainder, with a tiny sliver of a percentage ascribed to Twitter, Wikipedia, and eBaum's World) so while I contemplated quitting this project while I still have a few thoughts rattling around in my brain, I've decided to forge on towards dementia . . . because what would the internet do without me?

Smile . . . It's Thanksgiving (and, hopefully, you weren't molested by the head brother)

I felt slightly betrayed at the end of Roddy Doyle's new novel Smile . . . the narrator and the narration unravel into a metafictional mess . . . there are plenty of clues along the way that this is going to happen, but it was still rough reading; I wanted the narrator to get over his abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers, I wanted his psyche to escape unscathed, I wanted Fitzpatrick to be a harmless barfly, but--alas-- it was not to be so . . . enough, I'm already spoiling things, but be forewarned . . . if you want something a little less heavy, Irish shenanigans and such, then read Doyle's The Barrytown Trilogy . . . The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van.

Dave Accessorizes!

It makes me extremely jealous that women have so many fabulous choices on how to accessorize their outfits-- scarves and brooches, feather boas and scrunchies, bangles and handbags-- so, to combat mundanity, I've added a couple of items to my fashion arsenal:

1) with my battery powered headlamp, not only am I a shining beacon of coolness in the 6 AM darkness, but I also don't trip on the uneven pavement near my house (the streetlight on our corner is out) and I'm able to let my dog pursue his interests (chasing deer in the park) without losing him . . . so shine on, you crazy fashionable Dave . . .

2) around the house, in the driveway, and even in the car on a quick errand, I am sporting a pair of OOFOS OOClogs to help my feet recover from plantar fasciitis . . . my wife is not smitten with these-- in fact, she called them "the world's ugliest pair of shoes," but I should point out that she has a long history of clog-hating (when she met my friend and rugby phenom Brian Hightower for the first time, she was not impressed, mainly because he was wearing a pair of hideous black clogs-- but also because he's short with a big head; Hightower let me try on the clogs and I really liked them, they were comfortable and easy to slip into; Catherine made some derogatory comments about the clogs and the type of men that wear them and then we went out and got drunk and I forgot all about the entire incident, but Whitney didn't, and a year later he gave me a pair of them for my birthday-- to Catherine's chagrin-- and I wore them until they fell apart . . . I'll never forget that gift, as it was both incredibly thoughtful and incredibly vengeful in equal measures).

Machine vs. Anti-Machine

Yikes . . . I wrote a lot of words about Highland Park soccer over on Gheorghe:TheBlog . . . my post is called Machine vs. Anti-Machine, and if you've several hours to kill, head over and read it.

It Might Be the Pants?

I got on the scale this morning and the number seemed a little heavy-- normally I step on just wearing underwear but this morning I also had on my pants, so I'm assuming this caused the discrepancy between what I think I should weigh and what I actually weigh: how much do pants weigh, sixteen pounds or so?

Cheers + The Replacements/2 = Professor Truck

I finished up a new song: "Lost Souls" . . . it's what you get if you add "Here Come a Regular" and the Cheers Theme Song together and divide by two . . . somewhere between the bibulous depressive alcoholism of The Replacements and the romanticized sit-com utopia of "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" . . . check it out, especially if your fond of sitting in a bar and drinking your troubles away.

Can You Hear Me Never?

So that's all she wrote . . . after twenty-five years of monogamous bliss with my lovely spouse, we're calling it quits . . . not with our entire marriage, just with the auditory phone communication portion of the relationship: every time we try to speak to each other on the phone, Catherine gets frustrated and ends up yelling at me because I don't finish my sentences (or my thoughts) and I also apparently don't talk at the right intervals-- I either pause too much or I ramble . . . and then-- because I'm being yelled at-- I get really anxious and offended, which exacerbates the problem . . . so we had a serious talk and decided the only way to solve the problem was to never talk to each other on the phone again; I brought up the "what about an emergency situation" exception but Catherine countered with the "an emergency is when you definitely need to speak quickly and coherently, so you're DEFINITELY not allowed to call me if it's an emergency" rebuttal so we've decided to leave it at no phone dialogue ever (and I'm not very consistent or proficient with my texting either . . . I think my preferred medium would have been the telegraph).

Is Holding Your Breath Exercise?

Enduring the stench in the men's locker room at the North Brunswick LA Fitness is a workout in itself.

Where to Go & What to Get

Here's a million dollar idea for all the ambitious web entrepreneurs out there: there should be some kind of bot (or industrious group of humans) that trawls restaurant reviews on sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon and then tells boils it all down and tells you exactly where you should go eat and exactly what you should order . . . and that's the name of the site: Where To Go & What To Get . . . my wife did a pretty good job of it Saturday night-- we were sampling beers at Cypress Brewery and she decided to find somewhere in that neck of the woods to eat and after reading a bunch of reviews on her phone, we ended up at Taiwan Tasty, a grubby little Chinese joint in an Asian strip mall where Old Post Road intersects with Route 1; there are a lot of red neon Chinese characters in the window and a sign in English that says "Chinese Food" and once you go there, you should definitely get two things:

1) the Minced Pork Black Bean with Leek, which has lots of leek greens, a few black beans, and delicious minced pork;

2) the beef scallion roll, which is not on the menu but is pictured on the wall . . . this is thin sliced lean beef rolled inside a delicious scallion pancake with a bit of plum sauce, my wife and I agreed that it's one of the best Asian dishes we've ever had . . .

so there it is in a nutshell, now you know where to go and what to get.

My Son Ian Is Smart Like Kramer

Last night, I banged on the bathroom door and told my son Ian to brush his teeth and get out of the bathroom, because I wanted to shower-- it was 9:30 PM and I was still cold from practice-- and he said, "I'm brushing my teeth!" and I said, "Then why do I hear the shower still running!" and he said, "I'm brushing my teeth in the shower! It's smart! I'm multitasking!" and I had no stock parental reply to this silliness, as I was lost in thought, fondly reminiscing about Kramer's shower salad.

The Test 102: Superstitious Spray Butter Intervention

This week on The Test, things get real . . . grievances are aired, alliances are formed, and amidst the chaos, I manage to administer a quiz on superstitions and their origin stories; so tune in, take sides, keep score, and if you don't learn something, I give you permission to key Stacey's Jeep.

If It's Not Spanish, It's CRAP!

On my car ride to work this morning, in order to lexically prepare for our big family trip to Costa Rica, I listened to several episodes of Coffee Break Spanish, but I ended up learning all the wrong things; Kara and Mark, the hosts of the show, are Scottish and (of course) when they speak in English, they have distinct Scottish accents . . . and I'm not blaming them for where they were born, but I do find this is very distracting and so during the lessons, instead of practicing my Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary, I found myself trying to mimic their genuine Scottish accents-- I kept repeating words like "additionally" and "download" in the style of Kara and Mark, instead of focusing on rolling my r's; and while I certainly subscribe to the maxim "if it's not Scottish it's crap," I still think I'm going to have to find a different podcast to brush up on my Spanish (but I highly recommend this one, both for the lovely accents and the insanely upbeat music).

Carry the Little Cup Proudly

This one goes out to all the folks who aren't afraid to ask for a gratis tap water cup when they're eating fast casual . . . it's a little embarrassing but if you do it over the course of a lifetime, you save a lot of money, evade a shit-ton of empty calories, and avoid diabetes.

Poopy's Law (with Apologies to Adrian McKinty)

So here's the big follow-up to the first post ever commented on by an acclaimed author on Sentence of Dave . . . I've noticed that whenever I go into the yard with the good intention of cleaning up the dog poop, while I am searching for the dog poop so that I can bag it and dispose of it, I always end up stepping in dog poop . . . this happens 100% of the time-- including this afternoon-- and if it happens 100% of the time, then I believe this makes it a scientific law: Poopy's Law.

Adrian McKinty + Willie Nelson = Literature

Adrian McKinty has produced another solid mystery set amidst the Troubles in Northern Ireland, this time Detective Sean Duffy is doggedly investigating a murder committed by crossbow, and along the way he has his requisite adventures of a Fenian in a strange land (the IRA and the RUC are more porous and intermingled than you might imagine) and the book is chock full of the usual McKinty-esque musical allusions (the title is a line from a Tom Waits song . . . who I coincidentally saw last night, playing a crippled Vietnam vet in The Fisher King) and the rest of the references run the gamut from The Butthole Surfers to Morrissey to Rachmaninoff (there's also a few literary allusions, including a nod to one of my favorite Orwell works: Homage to Catalonia) but the throwaway moment that elevates this book over the top, and makes it a work that should be passed down through the ages, a timeless piece that should represent our era, the Odyssey of our generation, is when Detective Duffy tries to break the ice and tells my favorite joke, the Willie Nelson joke . . . I just heard this joke for the first time a couple months ago and the earliest link to it on the internet is 2011 but I'm willing to excuse the anachronism (and the joke could easily be from the '80s . . . because Willie Nelson has been old since I was a kid, and-- remarkably-- he's still the same amount of old) and now, if you check the comments, Adrian McKinty himself provides the origin story of the joke, the first ever celebrity cameo on Sentence of Dave.

NYC: Yin, Yang, and a Lot of Grime

We went to the city today and it was a study in contrasts: after a brief brisk walk from our tree-lined, bosky town, we boarded a grimy Jersey transit train-- a classic slow-boat-to-China affair with the brown seats and the faux wood paneled decor-- then we walked through an incredibly loud construction zone and climbed up onto the High Line, which is absolute oasis from the pandemonium below-- and they can't build enough high end surreal apartments alongside it (we liked the Zaha Hadid, but you'll need to pony up 5 to 50 million per condo) and then we plunged into the frantic food frenzy at Chelsea Market and had tacos and crepes and there was the usual lack of seating but a few blocks later, we found plenty of seats and views and comfort at the Whitney, although the art ranged from beautiful to scary and everything in between, lots of abstract stuff and a floor devoted to Vietnam protest art and a special exhibit by Jimmy Durham which featured Native American themes amidst absurdist expressionism (and a particularly satisfying endless video installation featuring people bringing Jimmy mundane things-- food, toys, household items-- and Jimmy, who is wearing a three piece suit, then proceeds to smash the things with a big rock on his office desk and then stamp a receipt for the person who brought the object, and this goes on and on and on . . . we watched for twenty minutes and finally decided to leave, though we weren't bored, it was oddly compelling) and then we went to The Meatball Shop and the meatballs were very very good (rivaling my wife's beachhouse meatballs) and the homemade ice cream sandwiches were better, and then we took a grimy New York subway (it's a not a trip to the city if you don't ride the subway) to the 9/11 Memorial pools and the Oculus-- and the Memorial Pools are quite breathtaking, we had never seen them before and I got teary eyed reading all the names and thinking of my two fraternity brothers who perished in the attack and then we entered the cold sci-fi austerity of the Oculus, a spiked dinosaur of a building with an interior out of Bladerunner 2049 . . . so it was particularly anticlimactic when we boarded a disgusting, hot and crowded PATH train in the bowels of the beast, which dumped us out at Newark Penn, which was also crowded, and we made the usual mad dash to catch the Jersey Transit (another filthy classic train) but I did buy the tickets on an app and show the conductor my phone, so though the decor of train itself was 70's kitsch, the method of payment was kind of sleek . . . and once we finished this epic in contrast, there was only one movie to watch: The Fisher King, which juxtaposes the byzantine underworld of filth, mental illness and grotesque illusion with the stark angles of corporate Manhattan and resolves this contradiction the way only a Terry Gilliam film can.

There's Always a Tradeoff

Acupuncture alleviated my plantar fasciitis (but now my calf is really sore, which makes sense since my acupuncturist stuck a bunch of needles into it).

Good Walkers, Spoiled

There are few things I enjoy more than taking a brisk walk with my dog on a fall day; I usually listen to a podcast or some jazz (lately I've been into jazz organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, who should not be confused with jazz keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith or base-stealing left fielder Lonnie "Skates" Smith) but today's walk was short, slow, awkward, and quite lame . . . I've played pickup basketball three times in the last week and apparently that's enough times to make my plantar fasciitis flare up-- so my left heel feels like there's a spike lodged in it-- and my dog pulled a muscle in his rear leg and he can barely walk, so anyone who saw the two of us limping around the corner from my house must have thought we were not long for this earth, but now it's raining and we're resting and I have a good feeling about tomorrow (hopefully I won't wake up in the night again and nearly collapse while trying to walk to the bathroom, that tendon gets tight as a banjo  drone string in the middle of the night).

More Proof That Dreams Are Meaningless

Just before I went to bed on Thursday, my son Alex showed me the piece of his saxophone which needed fixing, and then I had a very vivid dream that night in which I brought the saxophone to Sam Ash and the tech guy told me it would cost $64 dollars to fix the saxophone and then Friday morning, I actually brought the saxophone to Sam Ash, and the tech said the repair would cost anywhere from $30 to $50 because he had to solder something and then there was no mention of soldering in the dream, and then the tech talked me into getting a $70 tune-up for the instrument-- which I agreed upon because the intersection around Sam Ash is so congested that I didn't want to return to the shop for a long time . . . and this part of the transaction also did not occur in my dream, so my dream was not only mundane and lacking prophetic symbolism, but also economically inaccurate.

The Test 101: YouTube, Me Tube, We All Tube

This week on The Test, Cunningham takes us on an inspirationally aspirational (aspirational inspirational?) journey into the wild world of Youtube; be forewarned, she is a bit zealous towards the subject matter . . . Stacey and I not only drink her fanatical Kool-Aid, we fill an Olympic sized swimming pool with it and jump right in . . . so whether your skin is oily or dry, check this one out, and I promise you'll learn something (and maybe ever decide to switch careers).

The Good Life: Ages 16 to Adult

I played some pick-up basketball today at LA Fitness today and the age range in the first game had to be pushing the Guinness book for a competitive run-- there was a sixteen year old high school player cutting and slashing his way through the lane, the usual twenty-something regulars, a couple old folks (such as myself) and a sharp-shooting 73 year old . . . 73 years young and still picking and rolling, driving to his right, and putting up a crisp 18 footers with good spin-- that's a 57 year age gap (and I later saw this 73 year old phenom heading into the North Brunswick Smashburger while we were heading out . . . we both complained about our knees and lauded the smashing of the burger, and then I had a profound thought: if you can still run full court and scarf down a greasy burger when you're 73, then you've hit the longevity lottery, and it doesn't matter if you die when you're 74, as long as you go out shooting the ball and eating seasoned french fries . . . so while I'm certainly going to try to cook with higher heat this new year, I'm also going to try to keep playing sports that I'm getting worse and worse at-- soccer, tennis, and basketball-- just because the alternative-- not playing them at all-- is far worse).

Early Resolve

We should remember that the Gregorian calendar is a human construct and not get too hung up on it; in this spirit, I'm going to start my New Year's Resolution early this year: from this day forward, I promise to stop being such a coward and cook using higher heat.

13 - 0

The Athletic Director and I tried our best to find a team to beat my middle school soccer crew, but despite our best efforts they went undefeated-- today we beat our second Group IV team of the season (South Brunswick . . . they have 700 plus kids per class, Highland Park usually graduates around 100) and earlier in the season we beat New Brunswick, who never loses in Middle School . . . and to celebrate, I will not be having a beer, instead I am headed over to the turf to run 7:30 to 9 PM travel practice; my son Alex is not going because he got steamrollered by a giant kid in the game and hurt his knee, but his younger brother Ian said he is up for it-- soccer, soccer, soccer, for six hours straight-- and I guess all the practice is paying off.

Larry David = Monticello

Larry David is a national treasure and the highest authorities in the land should compel him to make "Curb Your Enthusiasm" until he dies . . . here is one of the lines from Season 9 that speaks to me in a profound way:

"yeah, the 'fuck it' philosophy-- it's a tough one-- I've tried it with orthotics . . . it didn't really work very well.”
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.