Monthly Archives: June 2006

this little piggy made me puke

6/29/06

I wasn’t going to write a blog, because I think there’s only about fourteen people on the Web today, but I just saw all this press about the new surge in flip-flop popularity, and never one to miss having my finger on the carotid artery of pop culture, I have to weigh in.

To wit: I cannot fucking stand men in flip-flops. Sandals are bad enough, but flip-flops make my fucking skin crawl. It’s fine at the beach, or somewhere utterly casual, but when men start wearing them to red carpet affairs and to the various meetings we have, I have to draw the line. Step up, gentlemen! I wore shoes to your meeting, and so should you. Your hairy toes and disgusting Man Toenails are so distracting that I can’t think.

Call me an old fart, but there’s something disrespectful about the flip-flop away from casual environments. Women can wear them all they want, because their feet are generally pampered (and sexy) but men’s toes should be heard and not seen. By the way, it’s not always appropriate for women either – when the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team wore flip-flops to the White House, I was disgusted. I hate Bush as much as your average thinking, sensitive American, but you can bet I would have worn shoes to his home.

Now, doctors are saying flip-flops destroy your heels and ruin your career. What else do you need to know?

Solution? If you absolutely fucking HAVE to go without socks, try those Keen Newport Sandals that Kent, gay men, and I like:

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Your feet will have all the oxygen they need, and you can keep them the hell away from me. Frickin’ YUCK!

come here, watson, i want you

6/28/06

Before we all go away for the weekend, I wanted to catalogue all of Lucy’s words at 14.5 months, so she knows what she learned first. It’s an odd assemblage, for sure, but she’s quite serious about pronunciation. She says “boy” like Flavor-Flav, and really loves to nail the “k” at the end of “clock.”

She loves trying them out on us, and giggles like crazy when she nails one. It’s so much fun. Our secret? She eats four or five tubes of Tessa’s ChapStick® every day. Hey, why tinker with success?

In no particular order:

uh-oh

bye-bye

no!

yes

hello

hi

okay

Mama

Dad-doh

Nana

Hank

up

off

ball

apple

banana

lemon

cracker (pronounced “quacka” and too cute for words)

eggs

shoe

dog

cat

boy

more

yum!

agua (Spanish – water)

mano (Spanish – hand)

fresa (Spanish – strawberry)

maintenant (French – now)

clock

car

baby

spoon

towel (pronounced “dowl”)

phone

book

foot

home

mine

truck

“thank you” (pronounced “aing you!”)

“vroom, vroom” (car noise)

“that’s Dada”

“up, Mama”

Lucy misses her boyfriend Hank back in Brooklyn and ain’t afraid to say so

deep tissue message

6/27/06

Remember how psychoanalysis works? It was first developed by Freud as a “talking cure,” where (in the simplest terms) patients talked about all of their deepest fears and taboos, and by airing them, their neuroses disappeared. In other words, nature wants to fix those things that are out in the open. Left to fester, unaired, untreated, most problems get worse.

And so, to borrow a page from all the great analysts, it’s time to Air Your Major Body Pain Complaints! That’s right, by merely mentioning the one thing that hurts on your body right here on the Web for all to see, it will gradually stop hurting.

My left knee is killing me. It’s a “torn meniscus” or maybe “nothing all that drastic” but every time I chase the basketball down, I tweak it and I want to frickin’ KILL myself from the pain. I use a brace and all, but it only partially helps.

Also, my lower back on the left side, one particular muscle has been in chronic pain for six years. I’m really sick of it, and though Stopain Spray® works unbelievably well, I’m tired of smelling vaguely of menthol.

So those are two for me. I’ve aired my complaints. Let the healing begin!

Your turn.

making things with light

6/26/06

A few short bits to add to the blog today, as it is my turn for Lucy tomorrow morning and let’s just say that she likes to get up four or five hours earlier than I do.

– It’s my sister Michelle’s birthday! She turned thirtysomething years old today, and I’m fairly sure she’s drunk on very expensive red wine up in Napa Valley right now.

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love this pic Lars took at the Jartacular, rehearsing: me, Michelle and Sean, with Chip in the background

– If you are planning to be in New York City this summer, try to make it the last week of August, where Sean/Jordi/Mac and Gideon Productions – fresh off winning “Best Musical” at the Fringe Festival last year for “Fleet Week” – are mounting this year’s juggernaut “Air Guitar.” There’s a fighting chance you might see one of my plays as well, as the 24 Hour Plays is putting on a Best of the Last Ten Years show, and they might include mine (scroll down and vote here – you will see some familiar names like Lindsay B., Mac R., and Dan K.!). One way or another, we wouldn’t mind meeting you wonderful readers in NYC if any of you wanted to make the jaunt.

– Speaking of which, Lindsay just put on a 24 Hour Play up in Toronto. Check out his blog on the journey.

– My brother Steve just helped launch Digg version 3.0 today. Included in the redesign is a really cool masthead that includes my brother holding his trademark fedora.

– Thanks to the always-delightful Peter in PEI, I had this odd web page stuck in my head like a bad pop song.

– I started drum lessons on Sunday. My teacher is awesome and knows Stewart Copeland. I’m learning to hold the sticks correctly and he said I could pick three songs to learn this month. They will be “Generals and Majors” by XTC, “Day Tripper” by the Beatles, and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen. Starting a new instrument is fun, man!

– Any other tidbits you’d care to share with the class?

sincerity is the new irony

6/25/06

I don’t ask anything of you, I really don’t. I’ve been writing in this space for 4 1/2 years now, through my nervous breakdown, my marriage proposal, nuptials, birth of my first born, various book and magazine ideas – and hopefully, given a place for all of you to leave comments, reconnect, disagree and socialize.

In the beginning when I had no money, my brother Steve and I talked about putting ads on the site, a method used by Dooce, Atrios, the Instapundit and a lot of others. Some people, like Salon, have a subscription-based service. You may think this blog isn’t worth ads, nor a subscriber fee, and I agree: I almost never show my tits.

But now I’m asking something of you – all of you, whether you’re my good friends, blog acquaintances, or merely lurkers who visit my humble site. All I request is that you DO ONE THING. Make fun of me all you want, but you must pick one thing mentioned in this blog to help negate your share of global warming.

Yes, I know what I sound like. Yes, I realize it’s not 1966 and there’s no spiritual movement afoot. But the crisis we’re in is not funny anymore, it’s not cute, it’s not clever. Global warming due to human interference is REAL, it’s HERE, and all of us bear partial responsibility. I am not going to link to articles proving it’s true, I will not provide PDFs of what is happening to Greenland this summer. You don’t have to do any of the research. I’m just saying that if you want to keep reading this site, please, please just DO ONE THING.

Pick any one thing from the following list:

1. Replace at least four bulbs in your house with the new compact fluorescent bulbs. You can get them almost anywhere, but here is an excellent place. The new ones are warm and yellow, not the old bright white ones of the past. Replacing just four bulbs can cost as low as twelve bucks and stops 1,200 pounds of carbon from going into the atmosphere.

2. Zero-carbon your car. For $29.92, you can go to CarbonFund.org and negate your car’s impact on the Earth. You can choose to do much more, but negating an average American car stops 12,000 pounds of CO2.

3. Offset your travel. Just go to the Native Energy site and calculate your total travel/vacation time, and it’ll tell you how much to offset. For around $25 (average) you can keep your 1.7 tons of recreational CO2 out of the atmosphere and have tons of fun playing craps in Vegas.

4. Switch your local power provider to a green solution. This is so easy it’s amazing. Just call your local power company and ask for what “green” solutions they offer. Most will tell you right off the bat, and it’s barely more expensive. If you’re having trouble finding what’s available in your area, just go here.

5. Plant one tree. Absorbs one ton of CO2. Self-explanatory.

That’s it, lurkers and readers. You have two weeks to do any of the above; that’s the only thing I ask of you in these almost five years of uninterrupted joy. If there is something else you’re about to do that is on par with the above, please share in the comments section.

I will not tolerate discussion about whether or not global warming is happening, or if humans are causing it. I’ve already given plenty of space on other entries for those opinions, and I’m done. And in advance, I apologize for sounding like an asshole, or someone who knows better than you, or that I have some kind of purchase on the future that others do not.

In my heart, this is the greatest threat we have ever faced, it’s happening in our lifetime, right now, and if I had this public forum and did nothing, then I will truly have been a worthless sack of shit. If you choose to keep reading this site, there will be an unspoken pact between you, personally, and me, that you did something listed above. From all I have gleaned over the years, you are all an amazing group of people, and I thank you for the indulgence.

we’re so pleased to be with you

6/22/06

Got some requests to “quit screwing around” and post some Lucy pictures, so here goes…

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I know every kid has a picture like this, but she takes my shoes VERY seriously

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fascination #2: airplanes

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third turn-on: the realization that she can walk ANYWHERE, including beyond the gate

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new words this week: “off,” “shoe,” “quack,” “good girl” and “gracias”(!)

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i’m not talkin’ ’bout movin’ in

6/21/06

I heard on the news today that Texas was in the last stages of outlawing every high diving board in the state. Now this may not seem like a big deal given what else is going on, but there are two very disturbing trends here. First, Texas used to be the most libertarian, devil-may-care state in the country, a group of people that would rather eat their own arm off than be held captive to a bunch of laws they didn’t like. It was this Texas of the 1970s and 80s that could be counted on to make semi-rational decisions, but it looks like they, too, have fallen lockstep with the zeitgeist.

The other disturbing thing is this: as NPR reported today, kids are going back to summer camp with almost all of the activities we loved – archery, diving, hiking, etc. – truncated to the point of Absolutely No Fun. Swimming pool owners are refusing to pay the liability costs associated with high diving boards, and thus the “can opener,” “jacknife,” “cannonball,” and “Fat Larry’s Ass-Out Revenge” will become great dives of the past.

Maybe this is the one area I will cross over with Republicans, but the litigation surrounding accidents, especially those that were done in the name of Fun™, has neutered the fuck out of being a kid. Before I had comments on the blog, I bemoaned the same phenomenon on the side of a milk carton, but now that I’ve had a kid, I’m even more adamant. Lucy must have adventure.

She must stand on the top of a high diving board, and contemplate her jump. She should hoist herself off a moving swing and scrape up her knees. She should climb to the top of a tree and have a brief existential moment, before she can pronounce “existential.”

The human animal, especially the young human animal, sees Denial as a virus and works to thwart it. If there’s anything thirty-nine years of anecdotal evidence and years of psychology study has taught me, it’s that we all need to get our ya-yas out at some point. Denying this will always lead to trouble: in small towns in Iowa, it means playing chicken on the freeway and killing your friends; in your thirties it means cheating on your wife and alienating your kids.

Since ya-ya’s must be gotten out, why not get them out at a young age when you are still relatively pliable and thirsting for adventure anyway? I swear, Americans (including myself) are always afraid of the wrong things. We grossly underestimate obvious threats (smoking, obesity, motorcycles) and overestimate things that are relatively safe (high diving boards).

Kids died in the 1970s, not from high diving boards, but from parental ennui. There was no adult by the pool telling their sons and daughters to wait 15 seconds before the next dive. Texas thinks it can get rid of this problem by making high diving boards illegal, but all they’re doing is displacing their kids’ thrills to somewhere much less safe.

I keep several sets of Jarts© around, both here in LA and in New York, not because I think Jarts is the greatest game of all time, but because it serves as a reminder that in childhood there necessarily must be some perceived danger. Nobody ever died from a Jart, but the urban legend makes it powerful. I keep it around as a trick, so that maybe my kid can feel exhilarated by the unknown so that later, she doesn’t feel compelled by the truly dangerous.

Will it work? Can we combine the fun of the 1970s with the mindful surveillance of this millennium? The uncharted wilderness of your children’s imagination is far past the jurisdiction of stupid laws, so maybe I’ll construct my own high diving board and see if Lucy ever wants to climb.

vera, chuck and dave

6/20/06

I don’t know if any of you have ever tried – or heard of – the “super slow workout” method of getting in shape, but I started today and it totally kicked my ass. It’s only 30 minutes, once a week, but your muscles are constricted for all thirty of those minutes doing excruciatingly slow reps of uniquely-targeted weights, and I feel like I was dragged behind a Chevy Suburban through the desert.

Thus today’s CODE WORD, which is a picture you can choose to create for yourself. I’ve mentioned this before on here, but I thought I’d go back to the Face Transformer page and try a few more. I thought this one, which rendered me as an older man, was quite cool:

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If you took away some of the hair, you would have something not too far away from my own dad. Anyone else want to upload themselves as older, or perhaps as an El Greco painting?

fear the turtle

6/19/06

Twenty years ago tonight, I was working as summer job as a caterer, living in my great-aunt’s garage in Arcadia, CA. Chip (or somebody) called me on the phone and said, “how about Len Bias?” It was then I heard the news that truly affected my micro-generation (those who were between 13 and 23 on that date): Len Bias had tried cocaine once and his heart had exploded.

Why did this strike a chord? Well, for starters:

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That player with the ball is Len Bias, three months before that phone call, utterly shellacking the North Carolina Tar Heels in their home arena. You see one of those little white pixels in the middle right part of the picture? That is yours truly, at the age of eighteen, watching in horror as this lone player systematically destroyed one of our perfect seasons. It was the first loss I ever saw in person, and I watched it with Susan and Ellen Frye and their parents.

Bias was one of those players from opposing ACC teams you couldn’t hate, because he was just too good, and unlike the Dookies of his era (Ferry, Laettner, Davis) he wasn’t an asshole. When he was drafted by the Celtics a few weeks after that game, he was largely expected to keep Boston in Larry Bird-like championship status.

Instead, he died two days after getting picked, and it really did scare the ever-loving shit out of most people my age for ever trying cocaine. I did eventually give it a go ten years later, but I thought about Len Bias the whole time. It’s kind of a buzz crusher to do so, like thinking about Janis Joplin while drinking Southern Comfort, but deep inside, I felt I might be that .1% of people who could die each time they did a line of blow. To this day, I’ve never had more than a microscopic amount, just enough to feel a second cousin to the alleged euphoria, and that’s enough.

There were times at my fraternity, years after his death, when Len Bias’ name was a cautionary tale to some brother who appeared to be going off the deep end. If Bias, this perfect, handsome, virile, 22-year-old, 4%-body-fat freak of nature could die doing coke once, imagine what could happen to your dime-store schlubby fratboy.

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I post this picture of Len (holding Celtics cap) and Brad Daugherty (Cavaliers) not just because Brad is one of my favorite Tar Heels ever, and not because Chris Washburn (far right) got a 475 on the SAT before going to N.C. State and stealing stereo equipment… although those are pretty good reasons… but because it truly shows what “twenty years ago” looks like.

This photograph could have been taken in 1963, with the fade haircuts and white-lavender tuxes. Bias and Chuck Person both look like Eddie Murphy in “48 Hrs.” In many ways, I can’t believe I was an “adult” when this image was snapped, and I’m not sure how much Len Bias’ death reverberates amongst the would-be recreational coke-using teens of the 22nd century.

After all, Maryland still doesn’t graduate any of its players, every industry party I’ve been to has drugs far north of cocaine, and Len’s name means nothing to the crowds watching the Mavs-Heat final tonight. So I guess this is just a private thank-you to a player I saw perform the impossible in front of my eyes, and then died an impossible death. He might have saved my life, he might have saved thousands of us, but there is immense joy in not having to know one way or the other.

father, don’t let them shoot my kite down

6/18/06

A Happy Father’s Day to all of you readers out there who happen to have kids – I’m not discriminating against those who are not breeders, but I have to tell you… even though Father’s Day is probably a mid-20th century invention by the multi-billion dollar gift industry, it does feel really good to have a day celebrating being a dad.

For her part, Tessa gave me some new latté cups, a croissant in bed, and drum lessons! Through a freak crossover of mutual friends, I ended up in a basketball game in the afternoon, populated by some fah-moose people. David Arquette was on my team, and he has a nice drive to the hoop, as well as a confident finish. On the sidelines, Lucy played with Brooke Shields, who was unbelievably nice. We spent the rest of the day at home with Tessa’s best friend Jason, soaking in a perfect day at the beach.

(Oh, and Michelle – we went to an art opening with the King of Men last night. Just wanted to rub it in.)

Perhaps Father’s Day feels nice because the essence of “fatherhood” is a constant fight for relevance. Our genetics expect us to run away from the family after the baby is born, which is why infants are engineered to resemble the father for the first few months. Our nipples don’t work, our frustration level tends to be a foot lower than our female counterparts, and unless you really try hard, you can occasionally find yourself a spectator in your own family.

Popular culture fucks with fatherhood all the time, especially in the Schlub Dad school of advertising. Countless ads feature a dumb-as-a-fucking-bag-of-rocks dad trying to cook dinner for his kids, or do the laundry, or some other devastatingly unfunny joke that should have been shuffled off in the late ’50s. These character actors are either fat and bald, or disheveled and messy, and they allow American men to revel in their easy uselessness. Shit, both Donald Trump and Adam Sandler just told the press they were never going to touch a diaper.

I swore I’d never be that kind of person. I am involved in Lucy’s upbringing almost as much as those creepy child psychologists writing doctoral dissertations. My lack of a physical office away from provides constant contact. Tessa and I split the mornings down the middle, meaning I get those slightly-agonizing-but-very-sweet hours at 6am when she can be the most charmingly antagonizing. I have salved her teething, I have rocked her to sleep upon my breast, I was her “dream feed,” and we have invented games together. She now calls me “Dad-doh!” and marches around the house shouting it with her palm extended skyward.

And yet… there is something between her and Tessa that I will never replicate. I don’t know if the dads out there reading this feel the same way – and I try not to use this as an excuse – but those two ladies have a Vulcan mind meld that can only truly be appreciated across the room. There will come a day when I will be her savior, but in these early years, those two are connected by superstring theory, gravitational fields, and strange quarks.

It is the struggle to emulate this, the desire to share in your child’s subconscious, that separate “guys who have kids” from “fathers,” and it is the latter to whom Sunday was dedicated. Paul McCartney turned 64 on Father’s Day, and when he asked “will you still need me, will you still feed me?” in his song “When I’m 64,” he was really asking about being relevant.

So here’s to us, dads, in our constant fight for relevance, our battle with obsoletion, and our ability to do the right thing despite our occasional desire to go on a three-week single-malt road trip with our best friends to Vegas. It’s a Celebration of the Expected. Father’s Day is for all of us who opted in, so that when our kids look behind them and to the left, they will see that we are here, smiling, and wouldn’t miss it for anything.

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i’m sorry, honey, but I HAVE TO CLIP YOUR FINGERNAILS!!!