Monthly Archives: August 2007

pears and bananas

8/30/07

The limitations of this blog have never been so clear as this week, when we’re having a pretty stressful time with a lot of career and personal stuff, and there’s absolutely no way to share any of it. Back in the early days of this site, in the doldrum and delirium of 2002, it seemed there was very little at stake, and I could spew forth regardless of consequence. Believe me, if I could have utter editorial freedom these days, this site would be a real frickin’ page-turner.

But it’s all cool. The three of us have each other. A few weeks ago, Tessa and I celebrated our fourth anniversary, and I’m still in awe of how amazing this chick is. The toddler than she birthed ain’t bad either. Happy Labor Day from us to you.

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saints, scholars, and soldiers

8/28/07

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Bud and Baps, Sikh wedding ceremony, Charlotte, NC 8/25/07

If it weren’t for Thornton McKendree Long, Jr. – or, as you and I know him, the Budster – I would not be sitting here writing these words. We all need a bridge from our past eras to our present, and essentially, he was mine. In August of 1985, I was a bespectacled, sickeningly shy dork with awful skin and long corduroy pants in the 105-degree weather. Whilst playing the bass part to “O My God” by the Police in my Hinton James dorm room, I heard a knock on my door, and Bud waltzed right in.

He wanted to know if I wanted to start a little band, and I said, um, sure. For the next few weeks, I followed him around like a lost Labrador retriever, because he was from Statesville and thus knew half the UNC campus. He introduced me to Chip and Jon, and helped me find Kendall, and from that, I joined the Lodge, wrote a column, met Tessa, and began pretty much everything that constitutes my present life.

It all started from an act of friendship, one that I took as an act of bravery, to knock on some random guy’s dorm room door and suggest kinship. It took me a decade to summon that kind of courage in my own life, just the mere act of divorcing myself from self-consciousness long enough to invite another human being along for the ride.

I should mention that Bud and I did start a little band with a hot chick named Kam from the 5th floor, and we played two songs at the Hinton James talent show: “What I Like About You” by the Romantics, and the last non-ironic cover of “Stairway to Heaven”. This was 1985, mind you, at least six years away from irony, when “Stairway” could still be played without derision. The audience must have known they were witnessing history, as we won 2nd place (losing only to a whistler who whistled “Saving All My Love For You” by Whitney Houston).

Bud and I crashed together for many years afterward, in many different situations: in the Basking Ridge, NJ “Divorce Hut,” on his couch at Estes Park in Carrboro, at Audubon Park in New Orleans, and finally, for three years at the Purple House on McCauley Street. Like all roommates, I took several of his habits as my own: an obsession with darts, the quest for the perfect mix tape song segue, several back stretches, and baby powder for the feet.

It was with an immense sense of satisfaction that we married off the Budster this weekend in two separate ceremonies: one Sikh, the other Episcopalian. His bride, Bapinder, is an absolute joy, the kind of soft-spoken woman who slowly becomes your favorite guest for the weekend; listen closely, because her best lines are spoken quietly and only once.

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Jon tries to install Sikh headcovering on Chip

The Sikh ceremony was beautiful, set to a raga beat, and featuring incantations that seemed older than mankind. Our heads needed to be covered (which meant Chip struggled a little) but the wedding guests – who had come from India, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and yes, Iredell County – were amazing. The Sikhs explained everything, and were effortlessly nice; my favorite part of the ceremony involved Bud holding a coconut wrapped in silk, leading Baps around the altar four times in beat with the music.

The Christian ceremony was on Lake Norman later that evening, and featured some excellent chicken tikka masala and kick-ass billiards. In all, a celebration done right. And finally, after 22 years, the four of us who hung together when we were spazmoid 18-year-olds, are all married. Took us long enough, I guess, but aren’t late-blooming plants vastly more entertaining?

Chip, Bud, Jon and me in Atlanta, March 1987 – I’m wearing fake glasses

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Chip, Bud, Jon and me in Charlotte, August 2007

little bowl of milk, just waiting

8/21/07

I’ll be traveling to NYC today en route to two delicious events: Hail Satan tonight at the Fringe, and then the Budster and Bap’s wedding in Charlotte for the weekend. As such, packing and a last-minute Hollywoody intrigue will keep me from being particularly lugubrious until Monday.

HOWEVER… the suggestions and lists from Monday’s blog have been so amazing (and priceless) that I’m going to post a master list here with images, so it can be of service to others going down the same road. If you have any more ideas for books, please keep posting on that thread so I can get the list worked up.

See you on the motherscratchin’ East side, boyz!

swiper, stop swiping!

8/19/07

Okay, those without kids – prepare to avert (or roll) your eyes, but we are FRICKIN’ SICK AND TIRED of all the books currently in our oeuvre. In no particular order, here are the ones she has loved:

“Flotsam” and “The Red Book” (the cool “wordless fantasy” ones)

“How Stuff Works” and Scarry’s “Things That Go”

“Angelina Ballerina”

“Babar’s Busy Year” and “Babar and His Family”

“Chicken Soup with Rice” (Sendak)

“Olivia Starts a Band”

“Corduroy” and “A Pocket for Corduroy” (not my cup of tea, alas)

“Curious George Gets a Barium Enema”

“Knuffle Bunny”

“Dora’s Camping Trip” (open to suggestions for good Doras)

“Green Eggs,” “Cat/Hat” and the Suessian opus

“Why Mommy is a Democrat”

“Goodnight Rameses” (very sad after the events of March this year)

“Madeline” (the original)

“Big Girls Use the Potty” (Oh lord how I hate this one)

and a couple books of quick poems that she memorizes.

Anyway, you get the picture. I guess we could break it down like this – we’d like books in these genres:

– hunt-and-find books with lots of detail that AREN’T OVERWHELMING AND MESSY

– cool little stories of the “Angelina Ballerina” and Olivia vibe, containing a pretty good plot but not very long

– off-the-beaten-path books by local folks you might know

– more little poems that she can dig

– anything else that seemed to captivate your li’l ‘un.

Thoughts?

pentagrahamcrackers!

8/16/07

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Sometimes the home team needs a big push, and here’s your chance. You’ve heard me talk about the theater company run by my brother Sean, his wife Jordana, and the legend-in-progress Mac Rogers, particularly the boffo success of Fleet Week two years ago – and their Christmas show, which had moments that STILL make me laugh, years later in the car, a propos of nothing. Last year’s “Air Guitar” was somewhat snakebit, a wonderful idea that was given the worst venue in Manhattan, along with some disastrous personnel (my opinion, not theirs).

In the “Got Back Up On The Horse But Quick” department, they were chosen by the NY Fringe Festival yet again for Hail Satan, a stunning mix of genres that has already received raves from all the secondary sources. Hell, longtime NY theater critic David Cote hates the Fringe, but loves “Hail Satan” so much he is challenging someone to produce it for a real run.

This is where YOU come in, everyone in New York City and the Tri-State Area! The show tonight will be attended by the reviewer for Time Out NY, and a good showing could propel them in the right direction. They need to bloat the place up, and fill it with gasps and laughs. So if you were even remotely thinking of theater this evening, buy your ticket now, now, now!

Shit, if you go to the show tonight, I will personally buy you a shot of almost-top shelf liquor when I get to NYC on Wednesday. If you can’t see this one, there are three other performances, but it’s make-or-break time. God bless our Tar Heel boys and girls, and yes, god bless “Satan”!

always overdressing for the wrong occasions

8/15/07

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You know what’s great? Being an awesome movie star who happened to be in two of my favorite movies ever (“Animal House” and the first “Indiana Jones”), then concentrating on theater when the business started to make slightly-older women feel worthless, moving to the Berkshires, opening a store in Great Barrington, MA, and making awesome hand-knitted clothes.

Karen Allen could have gone on making super-comfy hats every winter, and we would have still gone to her store every season – she’s amazingly nice, and yes, still STUNNINGLY pretty. She told Lucy she had pretty eyes, and coming from Ms. Allen, that’s saying something. Lucy’s even wearing one of her hats in our Christmas card from last year:

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But what’s really great is that Karen signed on to be in the new Indiana Jones movie coming out next summer, and I suddenly got psyched to see it. It means several things – mostly, Spielberg is doing the right thing and NOT casting a 22-year-old romantic lead opposite Harrison Ford. There’s also something completely awesome about Karen Allen running a quaint little crafts store where she knits stuff while snow wafts outside… and then still getting asked to headline America’s Movie Event of the Summer.

Man, THAT’S the way to do it.

oh my word

8/14/07

I felt like I was being followed by crazy news from the night we started packing for the reunion. First off, Lucy had a fever that flirted with 102 degrees and when she gets sick, she actually sits and does nothing – if you know her, you know how scary that seems. She’ll even watch television, which she usually finds utterly boring.

Then, around 1am, our little house on the beach was jolted with this 4.6 earthquake, the first one I’ve ever felt. Obviously, it was more like a 3 by the time it got to Venice, but I have to say, it still rattled everything in the house and felt like we were being shoved by a bully. I can’t even begin to imagine a 6 or 7, let alone the Big One due either eight minutes or eighty years from now.

I got in the car the next day and heard a story on NPR about Lucerne, CA, where they have run out of water, and the Feds busted five “water” trucks carrying unpotable sludge to families with children. I looked at the freeway sign, and noticed I was in Lucerne, CA.

Another story came on about the smoggiest city in America: Arvin, CA. It has the worst air in America, and as I looked at the map, I saw the dot near my car: Arvin, CA.

We pulled into Park City, Utah to get gas, just in time to make sure Lindsay Lohan cleaned her toilet at Cirque Lodge, waded through the thousands of Mormon kids eating fast food just as Mitt Romney said one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard about his own kids, then found our way to the family reunion, located just over an hour from where those poor miners are still trapped.

Still, as with most family reunions worthy of a trek, time stands still, slips backward, and the events of the day completely disappear in the ancient retelling of old stories and faces you’ve known since you began to process information.

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there are quite a few of us who aren’t even in this picture

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my particular family was missing key players, but we had an awesome time anyway

I can’t say Lucy was at her best: recovering from her fever, she couldn’t nap, was happy in the throng of cousins to the point of overstimulation, and by the last day, had basically fallen apart from total exhaustion. Still, I can’t tell you how important these gatherings are, especially to those who seem too small to remember them. It means that family will be “twas ever thus” to them; it shall be encoded into their DNA to be excited about cousins, aunts and uncles. I know I’m a complete agnostic, but it’s the part of Mormonism I love: the tacit understanding that you will be entwined with your second cousins and adore it:

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Lucy with Sydney, the daughter of my cousin Doug

I was social chairman this reunion, which meant a good round of basketball, the talent show (which, my fellow Jartacularians, I stole from my family reunions in the first place), and the Quiz Show, complete with the buzzers many of you have abused during your sojourns at the farm upstate. It also meant I had to design the T-shirts.

As we all know, family reunion T-shirts rank just above denim shorts from the Flying J in terms of wearability. You might as well put on the 2002 Linksys Wireless Router Conference shirt from the Embassy Suites in Cleveland, or one of those black XXXXXL T-shirts at the Chevron station that have a chartreuse cheetah standing on a puffy mountain. I was determined not to end up with such a product.

Thanks to the awesome AdSpice folks in Durham, I designed my own:

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I wanted it to look like the Carolina Crew Team shirts, and it even has our family name (“WORSLEY”) written on the back, with big football numbers. “Pontypridd Sailing Club,” the Latin, the rook, and other bits are all family lore which maybe my mom can explain if she wants to comment, but I think the shirt went over well. You know, once everything was explained. We even used the 50/50 cotton that has that slight Fetzer Gym feel.

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above: in 2005; below: in 2007

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I have to say I love my extended family. I mean, sure, we don’t agree on any theological issues whatsoever, and I may find their politics indigestible, but none of them live in a swing state, and they make me inexplicably happy. I hope Lucy gets it.

Because my wife and daughter had to head back for school and deadlines, I drove myself home, this time via Las Vegas. Expedia had a deal on the “New York, New York” casino for $79, so I grabbed it. Hell, you can make that much playing video poker (and I made triple playing blackjack at the $25 table). Still, it was odd calling my brother in New York from “New York” – it almost felt like betrayal.

No offense, but it takes a special kind of tourist to fly from Nebraska to Las Vegas and stay at “New York, New York.” A slightly fatter one, prone to visors, the cheese amped up about 15%. It was not the Venetian, nor Bellagio. As I sat outside looking at all the neon and huge video screens, it suddenly dawned on me: it wasn’t that Las Vegas had pulled off looking like “New York,” it was that New York itself has begun to look exactly like Vegas.

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The drive home was despairing, not just from my arse being unable to take that amount of sitting anymore, but because it was approaching 115 degrees in the open desert, the kind of searing heat even your AC can’t quite quell. Even more horrible were the desert towns brimming with xeroxed McMansions, springing up in the most uninhabitable places, literally, on Earth.

Mesquite, NV, for instance, should be a poster city for the unbridled hubris of mankind. Sprinkler systems were gushing water onto the red mud everywhere, at 5pm in 108-degree heat. Even a Republican would drive by and think “what the fuck?” In these places, anything more verdant than a black cactus should be regarded with suspicion, but here, there are golf courses along the freeway:

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These are fairways being kept green all summer despite the fact they can’t even be played from June to October because of the extreme conditions. I just don’t get it. By merely existing in one of these towns, you’re giving God the finger and telling Mother Nature to show her tits. I mean, I know living in LA doesn’t exactly make me Johnny Sustainable, but at least we don’t have an air conditioner.

Anyway, back home, La Luce slept fourteen hours and emerged from her slumber the same little punkinboots we’d known the week before. Oh, little Buglet, we missed you!

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know-it-all mannerism

8/13/07

I just pulled into town, but wanted to make sure to trumpet that Kent, my eldest brother and Lucy’s middle namesake, turned fifty years old today! And he’s still hipper than all of us.

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last Christmas in Brooklyn – I believe he has since stopped smoking

fambly reunion!

8/8/07

Yes, I still love you, but my daughter has a fever and I have take the Prius on this drive in the morning:

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I can, however, leave you with a visual trivia question. What do you think is pictured below?

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