Monthly Archives: December 2006

deep and crisp and even

12/20/06

Some Great Moments in Williams Family Christmases:

5. Christmas 1980 – Deep in a proto-existential 12-year-old funk, I walk down the stairs Xmas morning to find a brand new Huffy 10-speed bike, colored burnt sienna with fuzzy handle grips. Promptly forget depression until I’m almost 20. Immediately take the bike outside and try to ride on sheets of Iowa ice. It will not thaw for another five months.

4. Christmas 1971 – About fifty of my family, half of us under the age of ten, are gathered at my Grandma’s place in Utah. In one of my first holiday memories, I begin to sense the whole “Santa” thing is a hunk of burning bullshit, and begin to caucus with my cousins. At that moment, sleigh bells are heard outside, and we all look at each other with unbelievable excitement and dread, and bolt upstairs to bed. I’m told about ten years later it was my Uncle Steve in the bushes with the sleigh bells.

3. Christmas 1985 – On Xmas eve, my parents scream at each other and throw antiques. My dad walks out, and my mom goes into a tailspin. I amble out into the snow in New Jersey, where my parents had relocated for a few months. I look to the black, cold sky and decide to change my life. I get a haircut, buy contact lenses, and in five months I have my first girlfriend ever.

2. Christmas 1993 – We rent a house in Big Bear, California. My mom nearly burns the place down by throwing hot oil out onto the porch. Sean and Michelle spend hours with fingernail clippers trying to snip out the burned tips of the shag rug. On the way to the store, I mention that “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is actually a song about date rape. I’m read the riot act for an hour by Sean’s first wife.

1. Christmas 2006 – We start the next generation of crazy-ass shenanigans with Lucy and Barnaby!

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Christmas 1972 in Provo, UT – Santa freaks out Sean (held by Steve) while my cousin Vince and I are psyched

canis minor

12/19/06

I just got an email from Salem. Here’s a picture of his truck:

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Here’s who did it:

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In Salem’s own words:

I was hit by a red Volvo, driven by an English Sheep Dog named “Jeeves”. Yes, yes, the car was being driven by a large English Sheep Dog. Apparently, the owner was at the veterinary office next door. He had parked his car and taken the keys. His dog became impatient, hopped into the drivers seat and shifted the car into neutral. Parked on a hill, it traveled across the vet parking lot where it jumped the railroad ties and gained speed. I think the dog took his paws off the steering wheel just in time for the car to spin around backwards and nail my truck. He traveled at least one hundred yards!

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I’m not much for “Hang In There!” pictures, but that dog is frickin’ PRICELESS.

there is no “i” in “unforced turnover”

12/18/06

It’s time to come right out and say it: the NBA fucking sucks. It is a national embarrassment. I am officially withdrawing what parsimonious scraps of support I once harbored for professional basketball and telling them all to lick my nuts. If I have to sit through another goddamn NBA game again, please just do me a favor, take me out to the garden shed and hit me in the head with the business end of a hoe.

This latest brawl between the Knicks and the Nuggets (oh, just YouTube it if you haven’t seen it) was the nail in a rotting coffin that began when Jordan actually retired and was furthered by the unbelievable ugliness of Ron Artest & Co. two years ago. There’s a place for unchecked egos throwing sucker punches, and it’s called either “prison” or “my middle school locker room.”

When the players aren’t fouling the shit out of each other, the NBA game is soporific, funereal, rote and mind-numbing. I’ve had it with watching these multi-multi-millionaires with tattoo-festooned necks offer unearned braggadocio in every interview, jack up shots from 35 feet without regard to any teammate, and allow rivals to take a twenty point lead in the first quarter and do nothing about it. They have no heart, dulled by numbing vats of money, and have absolutely no pride in whatever city they happen to be playing for this year.

Some might find this line of reasoning racist, or generationalist, but I swear, I used to love the pro game. My favorite player growing up was the Iceman. I come from a school in North Carolina that provided the NBA its greatest player ever, and a platoon of guys that were among the most awesome dudes you could ask for. I loved Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse about as much as you can love those from afar, but they disappeared for me as soon as they left the fold. I still harbor affection for all Carolina players, but I simply cannot buttress up any amount of excitement for the pro careers that swallowed them.

Besides – the cold, European, long-range assassins ruin the game just as much. I can’t stand any of it. Darko Milicic, you’re almost as boring as Tim Duncan. Nowitzki, whatever. Shaq, you’ve become a real boor. Marbury, you’re a complete head case, and you’re stinking up NYC. You and your Knicks serve only to generate hilarious headlines for the Post and the Daily News.

Yes, I know everyone has their favorites. Yes, I like Steve Nash and Earl Boykins. Yes, I know teams occasionally wake from their slumber in time for the playoffs. But is it worth the shoe deals, the posturing, the sneers after dunks, the 15-game suspensions, the endless clunked shots from twelve feet? I’m just one guy, but I’m one guy with lots of cable sports packages who just banned the game from my house.

Do I cry at the end of “Hoosiers”? Yes. Am I a twee, old-school, sentimental fop? I suppose so. But for me, the farther away you get from Dean Smith’s way of thinking, the less the game becomes a gorgeous metaphor for everything in life, and more of a profane, cruel, stupid, “fuck you, pay me” dumbshow carnival.

In college, any given team can beat any other. Santa Clara can beat the Heels in a championship season. Lorenzo Charles can tip the ball. Walter Davis can bank a 35-footer in a meaningless game at the end of the 1974 season and change lives forever. I’m taller than Wes Miller, and he wears the blue and white. THAT’S the game I love.

my cousin’s duty to make curtsy

12/17/06

Some pictures for the folks who can’t be here! First off, waiting for Barnaby to be born was a day full of baited exhalation for us, but a huge night on the town for Lucy:

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When we finally got to go into the recovery room a few hours after he was born, Barnaby looked like one of those babies who had done a lot of maturation on the inside before bothering to come out: they tell you to expect a blue-colored frog, but ol’ Barno looked awesome. We put a few of their pictures side by side, and he bears some resemblance to his cousin:

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Nine pounds and fifteen ounces is not just a huge baby, it means Jordana gets bragging rights on us all. Not only that, but Barnaby latched quickly, stayed buoyant, and was unbelievably happy on his first day out. He uttered nary a peep the whole time we were there, choosing instead to take the world in giant, wondrous gulps. His parents were tired, relieved, and victorious:

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By the time Barnaby came home to Astoria today, Lucy was in Brooklyn blowing a gasket from excitement. Barnaby’s birth happened to coincide with La Luz’s recent obsession with babies and taking care of them. The thought of a real-live baby being born into the family has dominated her conversation for weeks. Tessa said it best: when she finally got to meet Barnaby, it showed superhuman willpower on her part not to eat him from desire. Instead, she gently touched his little head all night, and Barnaby, the perfect gentleman, let her:

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Up way past her bedtime, Lucy was on late-night crack all the way home. Two conversational nuggets:

“My elbows are inside my coat.”

“Noah’s nose is in LA.”

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We took a bath with her new sticky letters, and she now sleeps, dreaming of an extended family that just got WAY MORE FUN.

barnababy!

12/15/06

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Everyone, please welcome to the world my nephew, Barnaby Williams! Clocking in at an amazing 9 pounds and 15 ounces, he was born this evening at 6:45pm the natural way. Mother and baby are rocking, figuratively and literally. Lucy’s first statement: “It’s Barnaby’s birthday!” How right you are, my sweet.

where we’re going in this verdant spiral

12/14/06

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a few hours ago in Astoria

It’s a huge day in the Williams family, as Jordana is set to induce their baby at some point in the early morning. The actual due date is not until the 17th, but if all of the measurements are correct, the little tyke is careening towards ten pounds and Jordi is dilated, effaced and huge. Sean is hiding a lot of her belly in the picture above, so you don’t get the full effect, but it’s pretty awesome (in all senses of the word).

We’ve been trying to help put their house together in anticipation, and I think we’ll spend most of Friday painting trim on windows and putting together Ikea shelves while – god willing – miraculous things are happening at the hospital. By the way, the Ikea in Hicksville, NY provides a much more human experience than that of Elizabeth, NJ. I mean, assuming you were equidistant and you really needed to get your hands on a RØTTERRÜMDAK.

Isn’t it amazing, planning the imminent arrival of a family member that doesn’t quite exist yet? When we were building Lucy’s room in the winter of 2005, the place seemed to be haunted by her future presence, even though she was separated from us by only a half-inch of tummy.

I feel so happy for Sean, so in awe of Jordana, so over-the-moon for Lucy having a new little cousin. Please send your best wishes to St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan, and I’ll update the blog later with news.

stop calling me shirley

12/13/06

I’m trying not to be sexist, I’m really not – and we’re about to welcome a brand new boy into our family, so I’ve got to be on my best behavior – but what is it with guys? We are the saddest, hamhock-handed sacks of flesh on God’s green earth, and I’m not sure if any of us are remotely fine-tuned for the 21st century.

Let’s see…

Cons of being a guy:

– unprovoked bursts of rage

– no innate understanding of affection; must be taught love

– quick, meaningless orgasms followed by occasional idiopathic guilt

– constant unwanted erections from age 12 to 19 (or, really, 39)

– would rather close our own face in a hot waffle iron than admit fault

– can be brought 90% of the way through intimacy, but can only close the deal through objectification

– don’t want to talk about it, seriously, just shut the fuck up already

– violent roughhousing as toddlers melding into faggot jokes as teens

– constantly picking fights on the freeway

– incessant interruptions, usually leading to unflagging repetition of the same anecdote

– dime-store philosophy sold at 85 decibels as incontestable epiphany

– smelly

– persistent yet erroneous belief that she doesn’t know our true intentions

– biological relevancy ends at age 27

– grows fat, sickeningly hirsute, obtuse, bald-pated and sedentary over time

– while doing so, tends to choose female partners inversely reciprocal in age and physical desirability

– started, fought and finished almost every war in human history

– invented the nuclear bomb, leaded gasoline, fundamental religion and worldwide terror

– dies, on average, five years before women

Pros of being a guy:

– upper body strength

It’s amazing that we’re still in charge of anything. Sure, we have a certain rugged appeal to heterosexual women who may like the pheromonal smell, or the way we hold them on winter nights, but you get the feeling we’re all yesterday’s model. The only parts of myself that I really love – and the qualities I love about my brothers and my guy friends – could all be considered vaguely female. Sean and Jordana’s baby boy will be awesome, mostly because they will teach him how to transcend his manhood.

Self-loathing on my part? Sure. But sometimes you just have to hand it to the other gender when you know they’ve got you licked.

the desert hides a well

12/12/06

Today Tessa stood in line at the UPS store here on Flatbush Avenue, and right ahead of her was this hipster jerk who, while not being overtly unpleasant, was asking the cashier questions like “um, did YOU spell this name wrong on the label, or did the computer do it?” When, of course, anyone with an ounce of social skills would say, “I’m sorry, I think I might have given this to you incorrectly” or a million other ways of fixing his problem.

This little interaction got me thinking about the incredible effect of Tiny Corrections Over a Long Period of Time. It’s my belief that this hipster guy may have only lost a few seconds of good will on behalf of the UPS store guy, but over the course of time, after years and years of being a 4% asshole, he has amassed weeks of inefficiency upon himself. I’d say that he operates at only four-fifths strength.

Why? Because for every little niggling comment, every little subtly-asinine move, those around him slow his progress by imperceptible microseconds. Sure, he makes everyone else infinitesimally more miserable, but his biggest victim is himself.

I’m amazed at how often Tiny Corrections Over a Long Period of Time can be used in other ways, mostly for benefit. My friends in Alcoholics Anonymous are familiar with the cliché “one day at a time,” which, loosely translated, can mean “I’m not saying I’m never drinking, I’m saying I’m not drinking today.” It’s a philosophy that allows the recovering alcoholic to see his/her sobriety in terms that aren’t so daunting, but if you look at the actual math, “one day at a time” works because it is a small correction that pays incredible dividends over time.

By simply not drinking each day, the days become weeks, then months, and pretty soon your recidivism rate plunges towards zero. I know “simply not drinking” sounds easy to those of us who aren’t addicts, but in the larger scope of things, the intake of alcohol could be categorized as stunningly optional.

In related news, I have lost a fair amount of weight, originally from running with Lucy in the mornings, but lately because of my adventures on Dexedrine. Speed is a natural appetite suppressant, which is why it was doled out to housewives in the 1950s, but I haven’t noticed that effect on me.

What I have noticed is probably two skipped meals a week, simply because I forgot to eat. Also, every time I have lunch or dinner, I finish two or three bites shy of usual. These tiny corrections over time, completely unnoticeable by me, have led to a quick ten pounds or so I’ve given back to the earth, just in two months.

Tiny Corrections is also used for some amazing works of art: bending the wood for the sides of pianos, bringing the neck of a guitar back to true, even jacking up a three-story house and moving it up the mountain.

The problem is, we live in a time when results need to be seen in five business days, or we’re off to the laser surgeon. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a magic number of days, or weeks, when one’s tiny corrections can change almost any basic part of our character. When are we truly free of our addiction? When can we lose weight and actually see it? When will we stop being so defensive and hear criticism without immediately freaking out? How long would it take to take something you once hated and bend it towards your love, like the grand oak on the side of a Steinway?

Tessa’s dad Blakey always said that your character is just your habits. Once you get over how cynical that sounds, it might provide any of us with an unbelievable amount of freedom.

this bus is better than that bus

12/11/06

Time to hit some ground-rule-doubles for the home team, my friends. Here are a few things you should do to keep your acquaintances – at least those within two degrees of separation – happy in their artistic lives.

First up, vote for Block here on the WFUV website to keep them spinning “Last Single Guy.” Jamie’s latest, as some of you may attest, is his best, and it doesn’t hurt that yours truly played keyboards and violins on certain tracks. For best song, might I suggest “Molly Malone” by Block as well? Fill in the other entries with your faves – some of you will win the prize they’re giving away.

Secondly, Greg Humphreys’ very own Hobex has just turned a decade old, and released “Enlightened Soul” on iTunes and Rhapsody. For a stunning look at Greg’s work ethic, you need go no further than here to look at a list of the shows he’s played since 1996. A truly stunning dedication to music, and worthy of a huge hit song. I’ve loved pretty much everything Greggy Homefries has laid to vinyl, but the brand new stuff holds a candle to barnburners like “Rollin'” from the Payback EP.

Thirdly, why not take a spin on ABC’s “Daybreak”? I admit a bias; producer Abe Hoch, along with some of the Touchstone crew, are among my favorite people in Hollywood. Taye Diggs is a class act, and he is simply amazing in this show. Don’t read about the ratings – yes, I know it can be compared to “Groundhog Day” and it can sound frustrating, but I have to say, I’m fully into it, and utterly along for the ride. You don’t have to be a sucker for time-twisting plotlines to see how they’re breaking new ground. Catch this one on broadcast before having to splurge on the DVD.

Anything else the blog audience should be doing? YAY HOME TEAM!