Monthly Archives: February 2010

chicken egg and cheese

2/10/10

First off, a thank you to Andrew Dunn, Kevin Schwartz and the excellent folk at the DTH for honoring me every year with the old chestnut “Why I Hate Dook” column (they also printed another one from 2007). I have been around this great big world of ours and work daily in the dream factory of crazy fame, and yet, why does having both of the most-read articles at Carolina today fill me with so much more joy?

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I swear, we’ll get a hit show on the air, and my definition of success will be coming back to the DTH and writing about how we got a hit show on the air.

As I’ve oft-yawped before, this was my 25th home dook game in a row, and of all the Herculean journeys I’ve taken to get here on time, this may be the most Herculeanest. The fight from LAX to Charlotte was fine for the first 98%, but when we tried to land, the wind blasts were so bad that we had to retract the landing gear and try again. When we finally hit the ground – hard – the entire plane applauded.

But the flight from Charlotte to RDU? I know I can tend to be somewhat of a superlatist on here, but this was the kind of flight when people start re-writing their wills. It was only 25 minutes long (with a furious tailwind) but the landing was out of a sci-fi thriller. On our initial approach, the plane was blown three football fields off course just before we touched down, and AGAIN, there was an abort. Wheels up, thrusters on, people in the cabin weeping, screaming and laughing.

Detailing bad flights – like dreams – is always a terrific bore, so I’ll just skip to the 2nd landing attempt, when the left wing blew up so high that I thought the right wing was dragging on the ground. When the brakes came on, and the plane righted itself, there were cheers and roaring applause.

Strangers hugged, people were crying, many looked upwards to their God with thanks, entire rows started telling jokes, and the two guys next to my friend Jim barfed all over their motion sickness bags. The silent army recruit next to me – just finished with basic training – quietly said “It all kinda makes you think how insignificant we all are.”

I felt terrible for the kid, having his first true existential realization. I wanted to say “you are now one of us, my friend”, but instead just smiled.

Because here’s the thing: as some of you old-timers might remember, I had a decade when I was paralyzed by the fear of flying. I used to dread vacations because two weeks ahead of time, I’d be worrying about the plane that would take us there. I was a miserable wreck, and it grounded me for years.

But these last two flights? I actually enjoyed them – I wanted them to be even worse, so I could tell myself that I was really… for lack of a better word, “better”. I had my headphones on, listening to symphonic pop music, lunging through the clouds, and all I could think was “I have a good life. And this is truly beautiful.” While others were vomiting and yelling, I was at peace, and you know me, I’ve NEVER been that guy before.

Something about the day Lucy came changed me. Yes, and the drugs and therapy, but it was really that moment.

As for the game, what can you say? We were due for it. The same thing happened that happens every game this season, it just happened a little bit later than usual. Much later on, I found myself walking alone on Cameron Avenue, staring into the frigid midnight North Carolina sky. It reminded me of doing the same thing 25 years ago when it was all still mysterious, all ancient rituals, all friends I was yet to make and girls I was yet to understand. Seeing old friends and getting that old feeling back is worth the trip.

Oh, and this, of course:

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her boyfriend took the picture, so you can’t see that the dress ends 1/4-inch below her hoodlie-hah

receive all praises thine

2/9/10

There’s no rational reason for me to be going. Flights have been canceled up and down the eastern seaboard, and there’s a wind advisory for both CLT and RDU. My brother Sean was going to come with me, but our flights from New York were shitcanned, and now I’m going by myself, straight from California.

I’m mildly depressed, my brain is not settled, our team couldn’t be playing worse, and I’m on the downside of an illness brought home by my 4-year-old. Why do I do this?

Because it is what I do, and no matter the circumstances, if I can walk, I can be in North Carolina for the home Dook game. This is my 25th in a row. That is a quarter-century, for those of you who like more flourish, a game I first attended as an acne-bedazzled zork of 18 years old in January 1986 with my future brother-in-law Jon Vaden and my still-wonderful-friend Kendall Crosswell.

You have to have some rituals in life, and when times are the leanest, that’s when it’s most important. I will keep doing this every year I can, and maybe soon I will be joined by like-minded souls when they get old enough.

Until then, I will be at the exit near the flagpole entrance at halftime, and would love to see any of you there.

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Lucy watches Tyler being introduced at last February’s dook game

i cannot tolerate your lactose, sir

2/8/10

Oh, vanilla. Why are you so maligned? As an ice cream flavor, you are the alpha and omega, and I’m happy to just have you by yourself. Who are these people who say you’re boring? They’ve made you a synonym for “uninteresting”, and that’s not fair. I agree with the Barenaked Ladies; you’re “the finest of the flavors.”

Ah, pistachio, always the butt of jokes, because of the funny name. Funny like “vaudeville” funny, not actually funny… and not actually green, either, which was added in post-production. It’s as if someone in a conference room decided you needed a color. Well, you don’t need one with me.

Shit, there’s butter pecan. When I worked scooping ice cream over those long, hot summers, the butter pecan would always empty first – meaning another trip to the freezer to load in the next case. You’re the Garth Brooks of flavors, butter pecan: I just don’t understand the appeal.

Oh, it’s you, strawberry. The curious thing is this: you’re not actually strawberry, you’re what we think is strawberry (which means you’ve become, in essence, strawberry). I’d tell people not to put actual strawberries on strawberry ice cream, but it’s just too sharp a differential.

Look if you dare at the black walnut. It brings nothing but bad luck. When we worked at High’s Ice Cream in Norfolk, VA circa 1985, something terrible always happened around the Black Walnut. It slid off the top rack of the freezer cart and landed on a shift manager’s head. A cylinder slipped out of a co-worker’s hands and crushed his foot. When removing the metal top, the thin rim sliced open two different scoopers’ hands, including Josie (who says she doesn’t remember it, but that’s the Black Walnut talkin’). After a while, word got out that the Black Walnut flavor was haunted. It’s the only time I’ve ever experienced a haunted flavor, and pray it’s the last.

Rocky Road, stop farting.

Oh, why HEL-LO there cookies & cream! I didn’t see you! It’s hard to go wrong with you (and your slutty cousin Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) because every bite is different, and every bite is awesome. Unless, of course, you grow up with my sister Michelle, who would take the cookies & cream box out of the freezer and painstakingly eat every bit of oreo in the whole half-gallon, leaving her brothers with naught but a jagged lunar landscape to mourn over.

And while you’re not my cup of tea, chocolate, my yin can’t exist without your yang. I can deal with Neapolitan because you’re in context, but by yourself? Well, let’s just say that I’d defend you in a fight by the bike rack, but I won’t sit next to you in Geometry.

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oh when the sun begin to shine

2/7/10

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Tessa at the Superdome with Lucy in belly, October 2004

SAINTS WIN! SAINTS WIN!

The Saints were created the same year I was, in my favorite town in America, and I’ve been a fan since I first started loving football, and especially since Tom Dempsey kicked the longest field goal in history. For years we’ve labored under that horrible moniker which I won’t repeat here, because guess what, it’s been RETIRED, chères!

For a town that was destroyed by nature, left for dead by our government, and was subsequently blamed for existing, this is the kind of redemption too big for platitudes. Yes, it’s only sports, but during this season of such unrelenting bad news, we’ll take the lagniappe when we can get it. Geaux team!

eat me, i’m a danish

2/4/10

I’m fucking low. My beloved Tar Heels are redefining “from first to würst” by shitting the bed every three days, our careers are suffering at the mediocre hands of unfettered cronyism, I motherfucking hate the town I live in, I’m not sleeping, my low-level fatigue has crept back, my daughter is in the other room crying herself to slumber through a cold, we have a parenting issue that is proving painful to solve, and I have no desire to do anything outside the house, which is good, because our car just got recalled.

Normally, this is when I write a chipper, frothy blog about something completely unrelated, and I get lots of nice emails and muddle through, but there’s only so many times I can – or for that matter, want to – pull that trick. I’m not in this for affirmation, pity or charity, and yes, for god’s sake, yes I know that true misery is being under forty feet of rubble in Haiti, but we all have our goddamn fish to fry.

Back in college, when I used to write the column every Wednesday, I decided to create a caricature of myself that was relentlessly positive – and despite my parents’ divorce and various other debilitating issues, my life largely followed suit. I should probably do that here, too, but that’s what you get when you try to write every weekday: the half-blown, first-draft thoughts of someone who wouldn’t mind taking a baseball bat to a sapling.

One of you say something funny, so I can just sit in the back with a scowl, farting, and blaming the dog.

i can hear them breathing from here

2/2/10

Despite being in the midst of an admittedly-shoddy news blackout, a few things happen to sluice through the screen-door-on-a-submarine method I use to shield myself from current events. One such news item is the Research 2000 poll released today, a massive, non-partisan survey of two thousand Republicans that will make progressives, liberals, women, blacks, gays and sensitive life forms stare into middle distance as existential dread creeps over what’s left of their body.

I’m not going to do the predictable garment rending here, but I will post some of the more “interesting” findings:

• 31% of Republicans think Obama is a racist who hates white people, and an additional 33% aren’t sure. That’s 64% of Republicans.

• 1 in 4 Republicans think their state should secede from the Union, with another 1 in 5 “not sure”.

• 68% of the GOP believe that gay couples should receive NO state or federal benefits, with another 21% not sure. That’s NO BENEFITS AT ALL, FOR ANY REASON.

• 73% believe that no openly gay person should be allowed to teach in any public school.

• 77% believe that the Book of Genesis should be taught in school to explain how God created the world; 67% believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ, and not through any other faith.

• 39% of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached – no matter what the reason – and 53% believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President.

• 58% either don’t believe – or aren’t sure – Obama was born in the United States.

• A quarter of all respondents believe “Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win.”

Okay, so it’s very easy to sit back once more and call these people names: morons, imbeciles, cruel fucks, racist thugs, knuckle-draggers, bigoted redneck assmongers, etc… but perhaps a more sober approach is necessary. After all, what makes me so much smarter? Are Republicans happier than me? Probably. Do they have a more grounded sense of community? I’d have to say yes. Does their religion offer them solace that I can’t have? Absolutely.

For my part, I think I make the world a safer, better place than they do, I give more to charity, I’m generally nicer to people who don’t look and act like me, and I care more about leaving a livable planet to my descendants. From my biased point of view, I think a neutral observer would say I’m living a more sane existence, if not necessarily happier.

All you can do when you see a study like that is to make no mistake about where you stand. I am not these people. I am different. Look at the answers above – or look at the detailed survey yourself – to get a crystal clear image of the other side. Just so there’s no confusion.

These are the United States, but we’re not united states by any definition. I don’t want to be. I refuse to be classified with people who believe such things. At the very least, without fear of retribution, without fear of appearing arrogant, we have to be the ones who point to this swath of people and declare “THIS IS WHO I’M NOT.

urea, i hardly know her

2/1/10

I can’t really bear to discuss the Tar Heels right now (my alma compadres will know why), I’ve been involved in a media blackout for a few weeks, and I have to get up early tomorrow for a parent interview for Lucy’s potential kindergarten. As an aside, I did not interview FOR COLLEGE. This process is insane. But I digress.

Instead, you’re getting a CODE WORD question today, and it is part of a series. Quite simply, what are you taking? You know… what prescription drugs do you take daily, or at some point during the week? As always, please be anonymous if you don’t want the publicity.

Me? 300mg of allopurinol for gout/kidney stones, 40mg of Celexa for being batshit crazy, and 25mg of Dexedrine because I muthafukkin’ roll like that. You?