Monthly Archives: April 2009

symphony in blue

4/14/09

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Lucy every three months for the last four years – click for bigger

Oh, my sweet wonderful Lulubeans – you turned four years old today! I know this is considered utterly redundant information; you’ve already informed us of your voluminous intentions for this age, but I’m your Daddo, and I guess I just want the world to know.

It’s been so long since I’ve written an update for you – more than a year – so I’ll save it for tomorrow, but I just wanted you to know, on your birthday, how much I love you. You are my pequeña pantalones calabazas!

the impersistence of memory

4/13/09

It is my honor to introduce the winner of this year’s xtcian NCAA Basketball Pool: the delightful UNC alumna Julie Peterman, who navigated her way through some crazy regional matchups en route to destiny with the Heels. I acquiesce the lectern…

***

Wow, what an honor it is (and a bit scary too, I might add) to be at the

helm today! My name is Julie Peterman, and you know the funny thing is –

I’ve met Ian only once in my life, the briefest of handshakes at a Chi

Psi party at which I was the tag-along guest of my roommate who had just

starting dating a senior member of the fraternity. I don’t remember much

about the rest of the party, but I do remember that was when I started

reading “Wednesday’s Child” with earnest.

So that is my connection, and since my 4-year stint in Chapel Hill

(the last of which corresponded with the 1993 Championship), I have returned

back to my childhood home, completed graduate work, married,

have had two kids (boys aged 6 and 4), and currently work at one

of those troublesome “banks” working my tushy off to educate clients

about risks and rewards for owning unrated (not junk bonds just

not rated by the Big 3 rating agencies) tax-exempt bonds,

specifically healthcare bonds.

I thought that since I write for a living, I could come up with

something easily for this, but you know, it’s a lot harder than I

thought, so I say Kudos to Ian for keeping this blog so lively and doing

it so well. In the end, I have decided to briefly mention two things

(completely unrelated) that’s been going on in my world; I think that

fits well into the overall theme here.

First, is the issue of memories. With the recent b-ball season, it’s

been a lot of fun watching my older son, Alex, really “get into” the

game. He’s cheered Tyler on, got upset when Zeller broke his hand,

agonized (if you can really call it that for a 6-year old) about whether

or not Lawson would play, and even screamed some very funny things

about each one of our opponents and why he didn’t like them/why he

didn’t want them to win.

He also likes “Julie stories” when he goes to bed, so I

have helped fuel this interest with all kinds of stories about my

memories of UNC basketball while I was in college-how I camped out for

tickets, got trampled when the numbers for the Duke game were handed out

during my freshman year, how my roommate and I bought our way in Cameron

during my junior year to see Hubert and the boys play (and lose pretty

badly, as I remember), etc. So when we won the NCAA championship, I

started telling stories about that night in 1993, especially as we all

raced up Airport Road (I know now MLK Blvd, but some things will always

be the way they were), and headed toward Franklin Street.

He loves to hear the story about the blue paint ending up in my hair, on my face,

and all over my coat and loves to ask me why I just didn’t move out of the way.

To better answer that question, I showed him the time lapse video of Franklin Street

from this year to show the sheer number of people, but after about 30 seconds he walked away.

I asked him why he didn’t find it interesting – he said it seemed quite stupid and boring.

Hrumpf. I asked if my stories were boring since I was just

telling him basically the same thing he was seeing, and he said no.

Why, I ask. Because you remember it differently.

His comment made me think though, about memories, why some remain etched

forever (and I mean the random ones, not like the ones of what you did

after a national championship, where were you during 9/11 or when

Kennedy was shot or the like), why some are in the background but are

pushed forward in some odd moment-like that ones that come out during

story time since Alex gets to decide the topic and I must come up with

the story, and why some are lost forever, like the rest of the Chi Psi

party where I was the tag-along guest.

That was the first; the second is less complex and more of a question

for everyone who reads. Does the allowance system still exist? For those

who have tried it, was it effective (and I mean effective in curbing the

all-too-often “I want this xyz toy!” demands since said child, after

earning enough money, could then purchase wanted toy or decide to not

purchase and save for something better)? And, what is the going rate to

start with for a 6-year old?

Thanks, again, Ian, for hosting the bracket challenge. I’ve enjoyed this

blog for a while now and look forward to it every day (as part of my 20

personal minutes that I’m allowed to have on the Internet per day at

work).

***

red and yellow and blue makes brown

4/12/09

I’m taking Easter Monday off (like we used to as kids in London) except to say this: I got really sick and tired of the flimsy paper egg stands that come with the Easter dyeing kits. They’re made of the thinnest cardboard allowable by law, and they always collected pools of unwanted dye at the bottom, and you’d always gets drippy, crappy eggs by the time they dried – that is, if the whole thing didn’t collapse and tump all your precious masterpieces to the floor.

But having remembered how much I hate this, I set upon a solution – I grabbed a thin strip of plywood and drilled 1 1/2″ staggered holes into it. Then I screwed two “legs” on either end, and here’s your EggRack 3000©:

KidsDyeEggsEaster(bl).jpg

All of the eggs dried quickly with no bleeding into each other, and none of the kids could knock them over. Never needs cleaning, and fits under the bed for easy storing! Yes, the EggRack 3000© – spoiled Easter and Pagan Rebirth celebrations are a thing of the past! 12 cents in parts, sold for $14.99. Calling all druids!

the immeasurable clarity of rear windows

4/8/09

My esteemed old friend and colleague Andy referred back to this entry in mid-2005 where he predicted that “the Heels will win another National Championship before the end of this decade.” Job well done, Mr. Bagwell! But how did the rest of us do? Did our prognostications from nearly a half-decade ago come to into being?

Let’s take mine first:

A current box office star will die of un-natural causes. Someone near the height of their career, like Carole Lombard. It will make them timeless and immortal in that James Dean/Janis Joplin fashion.

Heath Ledger certainly counts for this one, yes?

A woman will be stalked via her own blog, with a violent crime ending. It will lead to parents not allowing any of their kids to keep blogs…

I recall something like this happening soon after this was written, but can’t find any details, and it certainly did not lead to any national stories on blogstalking. If anything, the Facebook revolution raised intimate detail-sharing to such a fever pitch that personal disclosure has actually lost most of its power. To paraphrase “Metropolitan”, why play strip poker with exhibitionists?

Karl Rove isn’t going anywhere.

This was back when he was subpoenaed, or something, but it’s clear he didn’t, in fact, go anywhere – and the mumfucker is still easily found on talk shows to this day.

There will be some robbery/assault happening at drive-thrus across America once the bad guys learn that your car is stuck between two others with concrete barriers on both sides. Someone will try to pass a law requiring an “escape route” for drive-thru patrons in bad neighborhoods.

Why do I still think this is going to happen?

An accidental breakthrough in hydrogen production will make it easy to come by, without electricity or any other fossil fuels being used.

Not sure about this long-term, but I know there had already been a breakthrough on this – I just hadn’t heard of it yet. But it looks like new battery storage technology will really be the revolution we’re looking for.

There will not be a Democratic president until 2012, and that will only be because of a completely-unforeseen fluke.

Obviously wrong, but curiously right as well. The fluke was this: nobody could have predicted how fucked-up Bush’s reaction to Katrina would be, and the Iraq war imploded so badly that Americans actually turned against him in droves so virulent that they elected an African-American man with the middle name of “Hussein” to the Presidency. It all happened quicker than I could have imagined (thank god).

A Category 5 hurricane will strike American soil, but not a big city, and while the pictures will be stunning, there won’t be a huge loss of life.

Not terribly correct in detail, but spot-on in overall soothsaying. Just six weeks later, Katrina devastated New Orleans, which isn’t a huge city, but big enough. It was a Category 5 hurricane, but downgraded to a Category 3 just before landfall. The pictures are indeed heartbreaking, especially those from inside the Superdome, and the families waving to choppers from their rooftops. The loss of life, contrary to my prediction, was huge: 1,836 died, and 705 are missing.

How about some of your predictions? First, LFMD:

Osama bin Laden will be captured by the end of 2005.

Obviously still not true, which in and of itself remains mind-boggling.

The person responsible for the anthrax mail will be identified by the end of 2005.

Incorrect only in date – they did indentify the guy, but three years later, and only after he committed suicide by overdosing on Tylenol. How weird is that?

kjf said:

Condoleeza Rice will be the first female (and first African American) Vice President of the US.

I believe she had to publically demur, didn’t she? But good call on an African American running and winning office (I am a very lenient grader).

Mr. (The) Budster said:

I predict a relentless rise in oil prices, temperatures, sea levels and international tensions.

I don’t know about relentless, but at least three of those have come to pass, especially oil prices. We’ll have to have a few more years to declare temperatures as officially rising, but it seems pretty obvious you’ll be right about that as well.

Claudia said:

I predict that food in America will continue to improve… more and more people will genuinely grow to prefer the taste of a fresh, real food to its canned or processed equivalent. Consumers will demand better.

Not sure about the first one – perhaps food overall might be better, but with the salmonella scares from peanuts and spinach, and the melamine-tinted milk, it looks pretty horrible. And thus, the second part of your prognostication will probably come true!

Just Andrew wrote:

…phone usage will change dramatically in the next 5 years… making a ‘home number’ obsolete.

I’d be interested to see the stats on that – dedicated home phones must have plummeted since 2005. In Venice, we can’t even get a regular phone line anymore; it’s all piped through the internet connection. But cell phones still fucking SUCK, which is why we still need a “land line” even if it’s not technically an analog phone.

tregen wrote:

In 2009, the first major… environmental disaster occurs in ANWR.

Does Sarah Palin count?

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me and the Lulubeans in July 2005

a little english off the backboard

4/7/09


Timelapse: Franklin Street after the victory from The Daily Tar Heel on Vimeo.

I’ve treaded the ground so many times about why I think basketball is actually important for my greater life – in terms of metaphor, religion, poetry, inspiration and brotherhood – that I fear wearing a path in the carpet. I always feel a responsibility to readers who don’t understand why it means so much for five guys to put a ball through an iron hoop, or are turned off by the wahoo-redneck-tribalism that usually accompanies the undying love of a sports team. Hell, I look at Alabama tailgaters, or rabid Broncos fans, or any team from Florida and feel the same way.

So I won’t trot out my usual effusive sophistry – I’ll let my brother Sean do it! He wrote this email last night, and I hope he doesn’t mind if I reprint it here:

***

I said, after the LSU game, that we proved we had what it takes, but…

WHAT?

Is there any comparison? The way this team played was so utterly

inspiring. This is a life-lesson team, this is a series of games that

you can *learn* some shit from. I remember when I first became a heels

fan (way after you guys did, I’m sure, and I have no defense for that

except to say, I wasted my late teens learning how to be an artist,

and only got on board once Ian wouldn’t let me go to college anywhere

else…) we would watch games, and I remember the satisfaction of

knowing we were doing it “right”.

Whoever we were playing, we would win, because we were doing it right.

They’d go on a run, and Ian would say, “everyone goes on a run, don’t

worry about it, Dean knows what he’s doing…” And sure, some asshole

would go nuts and drop 40 on us because he was exorcising demons, and

it was almost as if Dean was saying “we might lose this game, but this

kid’s gonna walk away feeling better about his life. That’s part of

the game, we’re not gonna double him five feet from the three point

line – We’re gonna play the right way. Period.”

When you’re a Carolina fan, you have automatic reactions to stuff. Ty

jacks up a three early in the shot clock, half way through the second

half, and we’re up by 20. Everyone in the room said, “We didn’t need

that.” The scrub runs the whole floor and tries to score in the final

seconds instead of passing up to a Senior, and that’s one of the

things we remember. Because we’re playing right, in the moments when

we’re not playing right, we notice.

The way this team finished, you wonder how we lost a game all year.

But maybe that’s the lesson. We don’t need to win every game, in life.

This was just amazing, amazing, amazing. Every team, we just got the

car to the best speed we could, and then we started working on our

mileage. Never cruise, never take your eye off the road, but don’t

feel like you have to gun it every time some jerk in a pimp-mobile

comes by. How many dunks did we have last night? One? I only remember

Wayne on a break away, other than that, we were like a kettle drum

that didn’t need a tuning key.

I wish I had enjoyed it even more, this season. I wish I had watched

knowing this was one of the best teams we’d ever have. 101-14 over

three years? Is that right? The best stretch in the history of

Carolina.

This team won, not in the way that sports teams normally win, but in

the way that science moves forward, one low-drama discovery at a time.

It almost made sense that Ginyard was wearing a tie, it was as if the

playing of the game was as important as the mind-set. Every game in

the tournament felt like surgery, and when the last game came around,

we were so good at it that a life-threatening procedure felt workaday.

I’m elated. I’m sated. This was just wonderful.

***

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Vince, Julius, Makhtar and Antawn at the game – oh for chrissake, forgive Makhtar already, that shit is AWESOME

one shining broment

4/6/09

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When we are all in such far-flung places, it’s hard to recreate the ambient, happenstance, joyous community we had at the University of North Carolina. You could walk outside and continue a conversation left off a few weeks back with a random friend, and even the finer details wouldn’t suffer. That’s what I miss most about those days, but when a night like this comes along, it’s wonderful to know all those people – all you people, in many cases – are all doing and thinking the same thing, just like always.

It’s unbelievably late as I write, and we can talk post-mortem in the morrow, but right now I just want to close my eyes and remember warm breezes at night, and the collective experience of a few thousand other like-minded souls, so happy for an irrational reason, but so happy nonetheless. The closest we can come to it now? I clicked on my Facebook friends page, and started swimming in amniotic goodness.

This is only about a quarter of the entries I saw tonight, and I hope folks don’t mind that I’m reposting these here, but this makes me, in an uncomplicated word, happy:

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can you give me a jump start

4/5/09

Oh, gracious – a wonderful, whopping huzzah to my beloved North Carolina for getting past a very rough Villanova team, and it’s on to the finals tonight against Michigan State.

And a ripping, stinky QUEEF to those furthering the bullshit narrative that somehow MSU is “America’s Team” and that Detroit somehow “needs” them to win because of the economic meltdown that they, apparently, are suffering worse than anyone else. Spartans’ Win Gives Detroit Emotional Bailout the headlines say; “This smells very much like destiny” oozes a similar story. Even Tom Izzo, whom I usually like a great deal, said, “We are the blue-collar team, and this is the blue-collar city.”

Give me a fucking break – if Danny Green doesn’t do it this evening, I’d like to metaphorically jank my chamomile-tea nutz in your grille whilst you wax lachrymose about Michigan’s sorry state of affairs. Has this tournament really been so boring that you need to paste this sorry metaphor on MSU, or is it just that you don’t like that Tyler Hansbrough’s dad is a doctor?

Do you know whose fault it is that Michigan is a disaster? Michigan! (No offense, Sean M.) It’s a state that singlehandedly defines what NOT to do in a modern, flexible society. It is the antithesis of how to survive: its economy is entirely dependent on one product, a product they don’t even make very well. As taxpayers, we’ve been forced to come to Detroit’s rescue, and even then, the corporations can barely muster a plan to save themselves.

To dismiss North Carolina in this equation is terrifically unfair: the 2nd biggest banking center in the country is in Charlotte, and the downturn has decimated the city. We’re right behind Michigan in unemployment. But North Carolina did something Michigan didn’t: we made a conscious decision about forty years ago to divorce ourselves from a one-product economy. Sure, there’s still tobacco around, but NC is now about as diversified as a state can be: research, medicine, energy, Web 2.0 – hell, Carrboro leads the country in sex toys.

As for NC not being “blue collar” enough, please explain what the hell you mean to Danny Green and his brothers. Tell that to a young Roy Williams in Spruce Pine, NC. I dare you to say it to Deon. Oh, and you may also want to ask well-known elitists from glitzy hometowns, folks like Raymond Felton, Joe Wolf and Byron Sanders.

Here’s why you should root for Carolina tonight: we play hard, we play smart, and we play together. We try to deflect glory by pointing out the people who helped us. We are intense believers in family. No matter how flashy the circumstances, we try to stay cool, act like we’ve been there before, because we have. We are gracious, but we will come at you with everything we’ve got. I dunno, in a perfect world, that sounds like America’s team to me.

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1911 Heels comin’ at ya

it wasn’t over when the germans bombed pearl harbor

4/2/09

I would like credit for something. Yes, this makes me a whiny affirmation vampire with unresolved mommy issues and bizarrely unappealing narcissistic tendencies, but it also makes me write this blog, so CONSIDER YOURSELF LUCKY, readers! Anyway, I’d like to share with you an email I wrote to Tessa last month:

On Mar 4, 2009, at 4:32 PM, Ian Williams wrote:

Perhaps if I wear the Oktoberfest Bar Wench costume and YOU wear the Boba Fett space tights, we wouldn’t end up getting tangled on th-

***

OOPS. Disregard that. I meant to share THIS email instead:

On Mar 7, 2009, at 11:11 PM, Ian Williams wrote:

I think we should talk about buying some stocks. I’m feeling bullish. I figure it’s like this: if you believe America is done, then we’ve got bigger problems and money won’t be worth anything and we’ll grow corn and pumpkins… but if you figure we will rebound as we have done every time since the 1780s, then anyone who buys around now will be pleased with themselves…

I have spoken.

—-

Now, fair readers, I would like to show you a graph:

DowChart3-7To4-3(bl).jpg

Yes, yes, yes, I realize that this is still a very small slice of time, and the Dow could fall off a cliff today, and a fuckin’ meteor could crash into Six Flags Over Georgia, but if you’d listened to me and had some nads, you’d be up a LOT.

Consider at the time – March 7 – there were irresponsibly inane articles like this bandying words like “apocalypse” about, written by hand-wringers with little sense of what the word really means. I decided I was really sick of people whacking off to their End Times Porn, and wanted to call their bluff: either America is over, or it isn’t.

And if it isn’t, then parts of it are going fairly cheap right now. I say this knowing full well we’re probably not out of the economic doghouse by any means, and believe me, I still know how to grow and can vegetables if I goddamn have to.

But never underestimate the oft-overlooked power of anger and boredom – because once America gets bored and angry with the doomsayers of the economy, it means America is no longer in the grips of madness. It will start trading its fight-or-flight hormones for some rational discourse and the entrepreneurial fancy of The Big Idea.

Go Heels.

yes that’s actual poop ha ha ha

4/1/09

My feeling is this: fuck April Fools’ Day and the stupid motherfucking jokes concomitant to the “holiday”.

Oh, I’m sorry… do I lack a certain sense of humor? Do I just not get how goddamn hilarious you can be on April 1st? Should I “lighten up” and “just go with it because you were only kidding”? I have a better idea: how about you eat shit, and afterwards, have a nightcap by sucking my balls?

I have never, ever in my life seen one genuinely funny April Fools’ joke. I remember in 4th grade, we read a story about April Fools’ where one brother tricked the other brother into eating cardboard pancakes. I guess the “comically amusing” brother managed to dress up the cardboard convincingly enough, and poured syrup on it, and then the other brother… oh god, I can barely keep writing, I’m so overcome with mindnumbing ennui.

There was this kid in our neighborhood who put a bucket of water over his parents’ door, and… oh fuck it. I can’t remember the rest of it, but it ruined some project the mother was working on, and warped the floorboards. Yay April Fools’ Day.

How about some radio DJs tricking people into thinking their heroes are dead? How about changing your website to something useless for a day? How about informing your workers about some horrible change to their lives, just to watch their stomachs fall out? OH GOD, THE HILARITY IS FUCKING UNBEARABLE! I have to agree with the seniors I sat with at Chi Psi: if “the joke” is the lowest form of humor, then surely April 1 is the High Holy Day of low thrills.

Here’s the thing – where I grew up, you didn’t need April 1st to fuck with anybody; it was open season all year! I got hit with iceballs, tricked into thinking some girl liked me, harassed in the cafeteria and fed dirt… regardless of the date! You have to give it up for public schools, they made sure the laffs never stopped. When I was a kid, I found April Fools’ Day to be painfully redundant.

These days, I think we all have enough trauma without the “Gotchya!” Brigade pulling some motherfucking stunt. I love the Improv Everywhere guys (and some were friends of mine at UNC), but I could do without stuff like their Best Gig Ever, which cringingly raised the expectations of a lowly rock band for one night, only to devastate them later. I much prefer the Best Buy gig (which flummoxed a moronic big-box corporation) or the Frozen Grand Central, which was as beautiful as a ballet.

You know me: I do holidays right. I painstakingly line up stockings, I spend a gajillion man-hours on Halloween, I do bizarrely-silly photo essays for Thanksgiving, and I try to make birthdays really cool. When Lucy was almost 2 years old, I was hyping up egg-dyeing so much that she actually turned to me and said “I’m a little bit scared of Easter.” (Tessa and I use this statement now, whenever we vaguely don’t want to do something.)

So I think I’m well within my right to say this: April Fools’ Day should be shitcanned. I think it should be replaced with something we can actually look forward to. How about French Fries and Massage Day?

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from our Easter Egg hunt in Italy last March