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Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I wrote this three years ago, and am posting it because the subject matter came up in "comment conversation" on my other blog.

This morning, while linking to my online bank account to correct a GIGO error in my automatic billpayer, I noticed a little-used link to the Pajiba review site. I couldn't think of any movies/books I was interested in, but it had been so long since I'd been there, I clicked the link.

And goddamnit, there, large as life, was a review of Sarah Vowell's newest book "The Wordy Shipmates". Funny? Irreverent?? When the hell did this happen? I remember going to college honors english classes with Sarah Vowell at Montana State University and can tell you she was probably one of the most humorless people I'd ever met.

I remember debating the merits of an author's argument in one of our assigned texts (the text itself is lost to my memory) with her during a classroom discussion where she was frustrated to tears. Or angered to them. Someone told me about it after class.

So here is Sarah Vowell. . . geeky, awkward, Sarah Vowell transformed not just into a writer (my absolute dream "job") but a fucking GOOD writer. . . with positive NYTimes/Kirkus/Washington Post reviews, a syndicated gig on NPR radio, and magazine columns. And I'm envious.

The ultimate revenge for Sarah Vowell (who I strongly suspect could not give two shits about getting revenge on me for something she doubtless has pushed from her memory or got over immediately following the class in question) is that she won. She's doing what I wish I was doing, and is doing it better than I could hope to do it.

College was a long time ago and I certainly have my regrets, but it occurs to me that my regrets with regard to Sarah Vowell are not so much that I hurt a kid who was away from home and feeling lost and a little lonely. . . awkward and exposed by a verbal bully (ie, me) . . . but that I did all that to someone who's made good, gotten famous, is successful. . .

I don't know. I think to myself, if I didn't know Sarah had gone on to much bigger and much better things, would I even give it a second thought? I flatter myself and upbringing by thinking I would to some extent. I mean, I can think of dozens of kids I bullied with my brain (hindsight being twenty-twenty, however, nobody with brains quite so big as hers) and made look silly or feel miserable that I DO feel bad about and do think about from time to time. But I don't know if I feel nearly as bad about any of them as I do about Sarah.

And part of me thinks. . . I should reach out to her. . . apologize for the boy I was and congratulate her on her success, but I REALIZE that there's some part of me that's just doing it because she's famous. Like I want to be acknowledged indirectly as an influence in her life or something by REMINDING her about something I did that affected her (at the time). And because I can't be sure that it's not more about trying to get her to acknowledge that she remembers me from college. . . getting an ego stroke from a celebrity, so to speak. . . I'll never do it.

Soooooo. . . Because this will never make it back to Sarah:

Sarah, I hope you don't remember what a douche bag I was in college. I was (if you can believe it, dear reader) even more shallow then than I am now. I didn't see a cool, funny girl, who was shy and probably could have used an ally. I saw someone I could use to boost me up in the eyes of my classmates by making her look silly. I'm really sorry about that. You weren't the only one. I think what you're doing with your life is amazing. I wish I was talented/intelligent/broad enough to be doing it. I will be buying one of your books in the very near future. My daughter loves Violet from "The Incredibles", by the way. Good luck with your life and your career.


Okay okay. . . i'll leave that last part out. I'm envious.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Diving a Bike

Today Emma's gym class gets to swim in the pool. On the drive to school she told me they're going to teach them how to dive.

"I think I already know how to dive, I just get nervous," she told me.

"You do know how, and once you get comfortable with it you'll never be uncomfortable with it again. It's sorta like riding a bike, you know?"

There was a long silence in the car.

"I don't know how to ride a bike."

When she said it, it startled a laugh out of me. "Yeah, bad analogy. Sorry about that."

Parenting Fail

Monday, March 26, 2012

My OWN Version of the Hunger Games

The Hunger Games movie came out this weekend.  Everyone seems to have loved the book.  I was "okay" with it.  I've always been a fan of dystopian settings, or post-apocalyptic settings, so the book was right up my alley, and I know the author wants the romance to be drawn out over the course of the trilogy (I haven't read the second book yet) but it seemed to me that the main character, Katniss, was particularly . . . stupid. . . regarding relationships.  I kept struggling to understand her responses to things and giving the author the benefit of the doubt that the character had been raised "cold" and in a friendless/emotionless environment. . . how COULD she understand what these other characters were trying to show her?  But it got REALLY really hard and I found myself rolling my eyes at some of the characters' responses particularly near the end of the book.  Anyway, this isn't a book review post.  The movie came out, and it looks intriguing.  

Saturday my parents offered to come over and watch the kids so that Leslie and I could get out of the house and spend some time together.  Last time I took her to a place she really likes, Cioppino, and she said she wanted me to pick this time.  A new burger place opened up, and I didn't want to spend a boatload of money, so I suggested that.  The place is called "Burgatory".  We drove about fifteen minutes away and walked in and the hostess said, "It'll be a two hour and fifteen minute wait." 
My wife thought she said "15 minute wait." 

I turned to her and said, "Do you want to wait?" 

She looked at me like it was a no-brainer. . . "15 minutes?  Yeah, of course we'll wait." 

"TWO HOURS and 15 minutes!" I told her, and we immediately left.
We drove to a place in Lawrenceville (suburb of Pittsburgh) called Alchemy N Ale.  Alchemy N Ale is this place that she and I have now visited three times.  I want to fall in love with it, but it fears commitment, apparently.  They can't help but fuck something up every visit.  Before we ordered I asked the waiter, "Are you out of anything?"  

The previous visits' sins had all been "we're out of that-related".  The cardinal sin came when my wife's meal was delivered to the table and the waiter chose THAT MOMENT to inform me that they were out of what I had ordered a half hour before, so I had to order while my wife was eating.  It was not a good "restaurant" moment.  So in response to my question, the waiter answered, "No."  

My wife ordered a steak and glass of wine, I ordered "frito pie" (I'm a class act) and a Railyard Ale.  A few minutes later the waiter returned and informed us they were out of the green beans that the steak came with, and were out of Railyard.  It's like the management of the restaurant is mocking me; daring me never to come back.

We had a drink each and then appetizers and dinner and left to go to a friend's bar because by that point the bartender no longer knew how to make a drink I'd ordered the previous two visits and we were just over the whole "experience".  We had driven half way to the bar and I looked at the clock and said, "In fifteen more minutes we can get our table at Burgatory."  I was bummed because I really wanted to try it, and obviously the Alchemy N Ale experience had not dulled the pain.

So, that was Saturday.  This morning my wife called me and said that the radio was talking about how "any restaurant located near a movie theater had a two-hour wait because of the Hunger Games premiere."  (see, The Hunger Games thing linked back, it wasn't a TOTAL nonsequitur).  This was good news because I'd sort of written off Burgatory because I don't care HOW awesome a fucking hamburger is. . . I'm not waiting two hours and fifteen minutes just to sit at a table for the privilege of ORDERING the fucking thing.

So anyway. . . Sometime soon. . . BURGATORY!!!  In other news. . . Alchemy N Ale:  Dead to me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Commenting a Blog Post WITH a Blog Post

If you don't know Amy, probably you should "meet" her.  And not in the creepy way that Amy's dad thinks (probably rightly) that you want to meet her, but in the friendly, blogging community way that AMY thinks you want to meet her.

She writes a great blog over at Lucy's Football.  

This is my comment on her most recent post. . . purportedly about her nephew, but like most of Amy's entertaining/informative blogs, about lots of many things some of which may or may not be related to each other, linked together not by logic or sequence, but by words like "ZOMG" and "YOU GUYS!"

It's important reading, regardless:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Punctuation in Writing

There was a twitter discussion about triffids/orchids/zucchini taking over the world this morning.  Then there was some confusion, which made me think of this.  Not that our discussion had anything to do with confusion about hyphens or punctuation or the difference between panel A vs. panel B. . . but Deb said something about getting coffee to keep up with the man-eating zucchini discussion, and Kat agreed it was necessary. . . so I offered to draw a cartoon to help clarify something regarding zucchini.

This is what occurred to me.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Disturbing Dog Whispers

My father came over to drink a few beers and hang out while our wives went to a wine-tasting. The evening had started to wind down. I had put both kids to bed, and we'd polished off a couple beers, and a bowl of popcorn between us. As I surfed the channels looking for something A) mutually interesting, or at least B) harmless, I happened across "The Dog Whisperer". Oh Caesar, your latin dog handlery captures me so! I told my father that I'd once put The Dog Whisperer on for two hours and found myself unable to stop watching. I hadn't watched it since, so I put it on in the background while we talked and got us each another beer.

The show was entitled "Chihuahuas from Hell" and covered several difficult chihuahuas that Caesar fixed up. During the course of the program, it became apparent to me that my father had ZERO tolerance for yip dogs. We talked a little about our personal experiences with dogs in general. . . bites received. . . and so forth. My father was a phone man before he retired, and was often called into the houses of customers experiencing phone trouble, or to wire a phone jack. Often, apparently, these people let their dogs roam free and, in some cases, terrorize "the help".

My father relayed to me the story of a coworker of his who entered a house to repair a woman's phone. She allowed her Chihuahua to roam free while he did this. Over the course of the 20-minute repair the dog sat at his elbow and barked without ceasing. It barked. And barked. It was unrelenting. The man in question, in frustration, finally snapped, turned to the dog and whacked it on the head with the handle of his screwdriver to shut it up. 

There is that moment when you've passed the point of no return; when you've made a bad decision and it is just a split second beyond your grasp.  You can, for example, feel the screwdriver  in your grip, the head of it rebounding in your hand at the jarring thump and you think, "Nonono. . . stop it just short. . ." but it already happened; it's already too late.  And you know the decision you made/reaction you had was a stupid one.  And your fortune rests entirely upon luck.  I've been in that position a few times in my life.  The words left my mouth, the foot hit the accelerator, the bullet left the rifle, whatever the decision, you are committed.

The dog did shut up. It fell to the floor, stone dead. And the man, not knowing what to do with the dog, and perhaps sensing his own imminent termination, at least from Mountain Bell (at the time), slid the dog's corpse under the woman's couch with the toe of his work boot and finished his repair. 

First of all, putting myself in his place, I'm sure I would never have smacked the dog on the skull with my screwdriver. . . sure of it. . . despite the fact that you never really know what you'd do if you had a chihuahua at your elbow barking uninterrupted for 20 minutes. . . I have a sense of myself and my disposition, and I'm sure I would not have whacked some lady's dog in the zipper, killing it. No, knowing what I know of myself, I'd have approached the woman and politely told her the dog's barking was making it impossible for me to focus on the task at hand, and could she please remove it, or I would come back another day to fix her phone.

Despite knowing this, I put myself in the man's place and wondered. . . once the blow was struck, the die cast. . . what would I do? And, despite the fact that what he did was repugnant, once the blow was struck, I think probably I'd have slid the dog under the couch too. I mean, he was at the very least going to be fired. At the least. Approaching the woman and telling her what I'd done to her beloved pet I don't believe would have made her think. . . "Awww, what an honest man! Well, mistakes happen. Thanks for being upfront with me."

So I think I'd have slid the dog under the couch and gotten the hell out of there as quickly as possible doing my best to arouse the least suspicion.

Two weeks later the woman called back and asked the man if her dog had been acting strangely. He told her no, that he was a little lethargic, but that's all. He asked her why. She told him that she had just found him under the couch dead.

What must that discovery have been like? It took two weeks to find a dead Chihuahua in her house? "Honey, what's that smell?" and "Where do you suppose Fifi ran off to?" must have been popular questions in those weeks. The man in question was not fired (as he was never found out), but for the dog/pet lovers in the audience, let's say, to satisfy your sense of justice, or to at least placate it a little, that the man dedicated his life to helping abused animals, donating to NSPCA, becoming an active member of PETA, and adopting homeless animals wherever he found them.

He did not, but maybe that makes the story seem less awful. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I Done Been Tagged: Re-Re-Updated

Longest blog EVER

Jaime at It's So Fuzzy tagged me in a blog she wrote responding to a blog someone ELSE wrote tagging her.  In the blogosphere this is called a goddamn chain letter.  But I'm answering it, because Jaime is really nice and also because if I don't answer then a piano will fall on my head or my house will burn down or something, because that's the nature of chain letters.

She actually tagged my other blog, but there will be swearing involved here, and the elderly read that other blog (my mother and father, and in-laws for example) and although I swear there. . . this will be more concentrated.  They haven't built up enough immunity to my swearing that they could handle this dose.

So, without further adieu, Jaime's questions for me (and 9 other lucky recipients):   And then, in the midst of making my answers. . . Jennifer at Just Jennifer tagged me with HER questions which, of course, couldn't POSSIBLY be the same questions.  This will be the longest tag meme blog post EVER!!!

Jaime's Questions:

1)  If you had the choice to know when you were going to die or not to know, what would you choose?
I don't wanna know.  Jesus, I get nervous enough just preparing for a meeting I know is coming up. . . how much worse would my death be.  I mean, on the plus side, maybe I'd get my shit prepared. . . start cramming for the final, if you will.  But let's face it, those people are insufferable assholes.  So yeah, just. . . kill me, universe, but don't tell me about it.

2)  What is the one food you could not live without eating ever again?
This is an important question with far-reaching ramifications.  While I love sushi, lobster, chinese food, etc. . . I can see myself living a long and relatively happy life never eating any of them again.  But could I exist in a world without pizza?  I . . . I just don't know.  The importance of this question leaps out at you when you observe the worst case scenario. . . apocalypse.  I'm the last man alive.  In this scenario, what food would I actually NOT be able to make myself?  Pizza.  I don't know how to fucking mill flour.  I don't know how to make cheese.  I'm not the goddamn professor from Gilligan's Island, but even if I figured out how to gin up a pizza oven. . . I'm shy two enormous ingredients before we even begin to talk "yeast".  My point is. . . If I can't live without pizza. . . and I'm living in a world without it. . . I could save myself a lot of suffering by just ending it all.  (alternatively, I could learn to mill flour, culture yeast, and make cheese. . . so yeah, death).

3)  Where is the one place you most want to visit on the planet and why?  
A flour mill, so I don't have to die at the apocalypse.

4)  How many times a day do you say a swear word?  

5)  What is the most absurd phobia you have and why?.
I fear the apocalypse.  Because I don't know how to create a pizza in the wild.
Honestly though. . . roller coasters/amusement park rides.  I rode the lamest most ridiculous roller coaster at Kennywood (local amusement park) after years of badgering by my wife.  It was the roller coaster that toddlers learn on.  At the end of the ride, my wife had to pry my fingers from the little car we were in.  She said, "I'll never force you to ride again."  Children were pointing at me and laughing.

6)  If all A’s are B’s. Not B, therefore not A. How does this relate to the greatness of cheese?  They are unrelated.  A = B, Cheese = Greatness.  It is assumed that A not equal Cheese, therefore B not equal to Cheese because if A=Cheese, then NOT A. . . then Cheese would NOT equal greatness, which is absurd.  B and A have no impact on Cheese = Greatness.  

7)  If you could go back in time and undo one event, what would it be and why?

8)  A frat boy, a cougar and a priest all walk into a bar. Which do you make fun of first?
As a former frat boy (we prefer the term "fraternity man") I wouldn't mock him.  Cougars have claws.  So we'll go with the priest.  What the hell's he doing in the bar anyway?  I would totally try to get him to eat a slice of bread in less than 30 seconds for a pitcher of beer.  Seems easy, doesn't it, Father??  Pray for guidance, bitch, you owe me a pitcher!

9)  Fried or deep fried?  
I like my food like I like my women. . . deep. . . and um. . . fried.  That analogy doesn't really work does it?

10)  Who are some blogs you would recommend we read cuz you think they are hilarious/awesome/inspiring/etc?
The answer to this. . . after the break.  Okay, I just wanted to say that.  I'll tag a few people and that will be my answer to this question.  After I answer Jennifer's questions!

Jennifer's Questions:

1. When you're in a bad mood, what will, without fail, always cheer you up?  
Sorry, this is going to be all lame and dad-like, but the giggles and laughter of my children can lift my spirits at all times.  They're ridiculous little joy machines pumping out good feelings and rainbows when they're not in trouble.

2. What would your dream house look like?
First of all, it would have an entire room underwater. . . like this:
 maybe not that exact room, but ever since I was a kid I dreamed about having 1)  an underwater room, or even a whole series of rooms underwater, and also an upside down room.  I mean, as long as it's a "dream". . . that means I have "dream money" right?  Anyway. . . I could go on, but what's the point.  I'd also like an underwater room that's not a SUBMERGED underwater room, just a room that's underwater, like this:
There are so many other things that I'd like in my dream house. . . for starters, it should be a castle, but warmer, and I don't want straw floors.  There should be an ENORMOUS library filled with books, like the one in Beauty and the Beast, or this:
And of course an awesome reading nook, like maybe a cupola or sun room or something that you have to climb stairs to reach that is completely surrounded by windows and sunlight and the chairs are a cushioned bench where that wraps around it, and there's a trap door and you can lock it from inside the room so people downstairs can't get in.  

Oh, and also it should have a safe room with lots of monitors and machines that go "PING" and I should be able to push a button and metal shutters will cover the windows and machine gun turrets will pop out so I can defend my family, because this is totally on my own private island, and . . . hello PIRATES!!  

Possibly I got a little carried away answering this one.

3. Obviously you love blogging, but is there anything about it you don't like? Be honest.
Hm.  I don't like not getting comments.  I don't like when I comment and don't get replies.  But apart from that, it fits me pretty well.

4. What do you think your life would look like if you had made a different decision than the one that led you to where you are today?
Let's see.  I'd be lonely and a bit depressed and have lots of money, but no love.

5. What would your death row last meal be?
Hm.  Sushi's my favorite.  I'd have the guy from Umi come over and whip up his special 7 course tasting. . . fantastic!

6. Facebook or Twitter? Why?
Really didn't like facebook.  After two years I deleted it.  My real world friends weren't really using it to communicate. . . just. . . collect old friends.  Everyone had a big collection of friends and none of them talked to each other.  Twitter is much more friendly.  I need the instant gratification, I guess.

7. Coke or Pepsi? Why?
Pepsi.  It's always been pepsi.  it's like if you're born in Saudi Arabia, and your parents are Muslim, you're probably Muslim.  If you're born in Alabama and your parents are baptist, you're probably Baptist.  Same thing with Coke and Pepsi.  I was born in Montana to a pair of Pepsi drinkers.  Coke tastes funny to me.  

8. Name something you don't think you've ever blogged about.
Pfft. . . I've never ever blogged about soooo many things.  But in general I shy away from topics that are too polarizing:  politics, religion.  I'm not afraid of them. . . I just like to keep things light.  

9. Besides where you currently live, where else do you think you'd like to live?
Near the ocean, near the mountains, in the tropics.  Insert me anywhere. . . I'd be happy.  I'd love to live in Europe, all that rich history. . . I'd love to live in Fiji right on the lagoon. . . aqua blue water lapping the shores. . . or in Montana in the shadow of a mountain, skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer.  I love how green Pennsylvania is. . . but I could find home about anywhere except maybe the plains.

10. Not considering kids or money or anything practical, what car would you like to own?
I like cars with gadgets.  So maybe that car Roger Moore drove in "The Spy Who Loved Me". . . update with GPS and Internet and other gadgets for modern day use, of course.

11. What is your customary order at Starbucks?
During the winter months, it's the pumpkin spice latte. . . all other times it's Caffe Americano.  Size varies.

And then. . . AND THEN she says I have to post 11 things about myself.  This meme is PAINFUL so I'm only posting five.  What are you going to do about it, Jen?  Huh?  Call the meme police???:

1.  I'm agnostic, the fence-sitting 'religion'
2.  I'm allergic to cats and dogs.  I love them. . . just can't have them.
3.  Every male on my father's side of the family has a cowlick on the right side of his forehead.  It's like a family trait.  
4.  I'm a fearful flyer
5.  Other. . . things.

Okay. . . and who to tag. . . who to tag. . . 

I tag nobody.  BUT. . . I'll name a few bloggers I enjoy reading (whether they know it or not) who don't seem to be in the same blogger groups I am (namely, primarily special needs or parents blogging).  For this post I'll pick "Book Blogs"

(In no particular order)
1.  Lucy's Football:  Amy's site isn't strictly speaking a "book blog", but she covers books, theater, slice of life. . . she's like the fun smart girl you were friends with in college who never stopped talking and never ran out of energy.  That's how she writes. . . funny and literate and energetic.  She's also amazingly supportive of the blogs she reads and her tweeps.
2.  Insatiable Book Sluts:  I haven't fully explored this site yet. . . but it's all about books and writing and what makes good books good and what makes bad books bad. . . and fun stuff like what literary characters you'd like to punch in the face.  Amy introduced me. . . there are multiple contributors, and to be honest, I never know who I'm talking to when I comment, but mostly I think it's greengeekgirl on twitter.  Good people one and all, regardless.
3.  Deborah Jackson's Blog:  You know, for a fiction author she has like THE least imaginative blog title EVER.  But she's an author.  She auths.  I haven't read her books (yet) but I enjoy her blog.  She's doesn't post a lot to it, but I like reading her posts when she does.  She's also amazingly supportive of friends' blog posts on twitter and retweets the hell out of me all the time without me even having to bully her.

oh my god. . . i feel so drained.

But. . . THEN JACQUI at Chicktuition tagged me!  And so let me take a minute to say something.  It IS flattering to be tagged.  I actually like being tagged a little.  People are thinking of me, and that makes me happy.  So even though I bitch about having to answer the ridiculous questions, I think in my heart of hearts I'd rather answer them, then never get asked.  I'm still going to bitch about it though.

1. What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
Hmm.  I don't know if people know I graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering.  I think they'd find it surprising because I seem like such a dumbass and Chem E's are typically bright.

2. Which three movies would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
I'd have to go with Grosse Pointe Blank, The Madness of King George, and O' Brother Where Art Thou?  Or porn.

3. Which three books would you want with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
If I was stranded on a desert island there'd be no reason not to slog through Ulysses.  So one book would be that, for sure.  I mean, I could probably reread it a few times and "get" it.  Then maybe a couple favorites. . . To Kill a Mockingbird, The Road, or maybe something lighter. . . Harry Potter, Game of Thrones.  Go with the classics.  I'd hate to die alone AND ignorant.

4. If you could only eat one food for a whole week…what would it be?
Chinese food.  I could (and have) eaten Chinese food five out of 7 days of the week.  Love it.

5. If your life was a reality show…what would the name of the show be?
"According to Jim" or alternatively "Jesus Christ this Show is Boring"

6. Name one thing you hope to accomplish this year.
Losing 15 pounds is in my sights right now. . . so I'll say write a book.  or continue writing it.  I started one for Emma two years ago and stopped after about 100 pages. . . seeing the end in sight about 600 pages away seemed daunting.

7. What is the funniest movie you’ve ever seen?
Well. . . it's relative.  I watched Yellowbeard in junior high and thought it was THE FUNNIEST MOVIE EVER!!!  Then I got to college and was dating this upper classman who liked Mel Brooks.  I said, "You have got to see this movie.  HILARIOUS"  It was awful.  She thought I was a dumbass after that.  I love me some Monty Python's "Holy Grail".  It's been a while since I've seen it, but some of it really makes me laugh.

8. If your relationship was a movie…what would it be called?
"Best Friends"

9. Shower or bath?

10. Describe your perfect day.
This makes me think of the sponge bob song "Best Day Ever".  Lots to describe here.  How about this.  No expectations, no plans.  The kids are happy and well-behaved. . . not bored, not getting into anything.  I have an hour or so to myself to read a little, guilt free, a little time to write or to work out, then some play time with the kids. . . on a winter day out in the snow, sledding with them, or building a snowman, then a nice dinner with the family, maybe a movie and popcorn, and the rest of the evening with my wife.

11. Who is your favorite character in a movie? Why?
Immediately all these movies swarm in and out of my head.  Very hard to pick.  I don't know that I have a "favorite" anything.  But I love Martin Blank in Grosse Pointe Blank.  Just a guy searching for answers who kicks ass, is in a hopeless love relationship, and has great dialog.

And then I was done.  And I breathed a sigh of relief because I'd answered all the crazy, ridiculous, random questions that anyone could think of. . . for that particular day.  Because on the following day (today), Roxanne at Unintentionally-Brilliant tagged me with THESE gems:

1. Why the hell did your parents give you that name?
Because I wasn't born a girl.  My parents told me they fully intended to name me Jennifer if I'd been born female.  James was apparently in second place.  My middle name, Adam, came from my mother's first husband's father. . . no relation.  For years I thought I'd been named after my great grandfather (Adam) only to find out. . . maybe two years ago (when he passed away) that it came from the father of a guy my mom divorced before marrying my dad.  I guess he was a pretty good guy.  I met him once.  He seemed nice.

2. Is there a song with your name in it that everyone sings as if you’ve never heard the song before? Is it sung by Sting? What about Ewan Macgregor? That’s what I thought.

You Don't Mess Around With Jim by Jim Croce
Are You Jimmy Ray - by Jimmy Ray
Jimmy Loves Mary-Anne by The Looking Glass
Go Jimmy Go by Jimmy Clanton
Jimmy Mack by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
I Wanna Love Him So Bad by The Jelly Beans....
Contains the line "I know his name, his name Is "Jim". I can't be blamed for loving him".
Jim Dandy by Laverne Baker
Jim Dandy by Black Oak Arkansas (same song) (1974)
Oh Jim by Lou Reed
Jim (sung by Billie Holiday)
(Thank you Wiki Answers)

Nobody sings to me.

3. What was your first job? Why did you ever leave?
My first job EVER was mowing the lawn where my dad worked.  Why did I leave?  Because I turned 13. . . you can't mow lawns forever you know.

4. Have you bought a copy of Barcode yet? Why the hell not?
I. . . I haven't.  There are several good reasons why I have not bought my copy of Barcode yet:
a)  I've never heard of it
b)  I have a reading queue a mile long already
c)  I mostly pick up new books via the library. . . on audio.  That way I can kill the boredom of my commute and "read" at the same time.  If Barcode is on audio, I'd totally listen.  Is this related to the fiction works I've seen on your page regarding the man with the barcode tattoo?

5. Isn’t Handflapper one of the most beautiful women on the Twitter? The orange shirt and martini glass really bring out the red in her lips.
I have not seen all of the women on twitter yet.  It is my goal. . . but until that time, I shall reserve judgement.  Certainly she's one of the most beautiful women on twitter that I've seen "to date".  The hair. . .

6. How many is too many when it comes to browser tabs?
I usually go to my blog dash and open each new post in its own tab.  I typically stop at about 15.  I usually have at least four open at all times.

7. Can you name any Jeremy London movies without looking it up? (Mallrats doesn’t count. That just proves you read this post.)
I actually didn't SEE Mallrats, and after IMDB'ing the man. . . the short answer is "no".

8. What is one stereotype people usually associate with you? Is it true?
Engineer:  Humorless/No creativity/good with numbers and math. . . . DEAD ON.

9. If you were a tree, what kind of animal would you be?
An Ent.

10. Why do papercuts hurt so damn much?
It's funny you ask.  I JUST gave myself one on the way into a meeting prior to reading this question.  The short answer is. . . because they break your skin and your nerves signal this to your brain.  Or. . . did you mean relative to other cuts.  Paper cuts hurt when they heal for some reason.  I don't get why.  They just sort of itch and sting.  In fact, maybe I should clean this one out. . .

11. What is your all-time favorite book?
Favorite questions are hard for me to answer.  I once took a sales training class.  It was supposed to allow me to better work with the sales people so they would stop "motherfucking" me over the phone and telling management that I was difficult to work with.  One of the discussions during the training was how important it is to figure out what the buyer/decision maker's motivations were.  I swear to Jesus I'm coming back to the question. . . Anyway, there were several categories, power, recognition, respect, etc.  I was motivated by power.  The power category was a group that likes to have lots and lots of options.  It's a group that doesn't like to be dictated to or bossed around, but likes to be given many choices allowing himself to choose the "best".  So I think this is where things get sketchy for me. . . when I pick ONE I eliminate all my other options.  Sometimes I like scifi. . . sometimes hard literature. . . I don't like playing favorites because I feel like all my possibilities and potential collapse and I'm stuck.  So here are a FEW choices:
"The Road" - spare and bleak and dire and at times amazingly poetic.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" - great story, great message, great writing
"All the King's Men" - poetry made prose.  A bit wordy at times, but still a great book
"Harry Potter" - a child's gateway drug to high literature.
"The Lord of the Rings Trilogy" - Not my favorite fantasy genre series, but the plinth upon which the entire genre's column rests.

Monday, January 30, 2012

your TEA is my blog

I wrote a guest post for Ken at his tea blog last week.  Yes, that's right, his tea blog.  It's  

And I know what you might be thinking.  What you might be thinking is, "what the fuck do you know about tea?"  And to that I answer.  Nothing.  I know nothing about tea, and that, is precisely why writing from a perspective of someone who knows nothing about tea but is trying tea is perfect for me.  You have to admit, it seems like a good fit.

So anyway, I wrote a tea blog for Ken about an experience I had trying tea here in my office last week.  He gave me a little guidance and I followed it as best I could, and that tea blog posting gem is the result.  So go read it.  >>HERE!!<<

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Zombie Evolution

I was surfing channels and came across "Land of the Dead".  I checked the summary on the guide and then thumbed "ok" on my remote.  

Essentially, the synopsis of the movie was, "Intelligent zombies 'evolving' and threatening a city, while a rich tycoon holds safety hostage for money and power."  I haven't gotten the wording entirely right, but the skeleton of the thing is correct (yeah, totally on purpose); "zombies were evolving".  And this made me think, "You idiots.  How the hell can a zombie EVOLVE?"

And I thought of little zombie men and a little zombie women having little zombie babies which would grow up to be smarter than their parents, then having more zombie children that were smarter than THEY were and so on.  And evolution isn't a short process people.  And I laughed at the moron that would make a movie like that.

And I didn't actually watch the movie, but then it occurred to me. . . Why is that any more ridiculous than the idea of zombies in the first place?  If anything it's LESS ridiculous.  It was one of those nerd-recognition moments where I was able to leave my body and dispassionately observe past me, laughing at the audacity of some movie company for taking zombies and turning them into something that was impossible and recognize myself as the true moron.

It reminded me of a conversation my wife had with my mother-in-law.  I wasn't there, but Leslie told me about it later.  

"Mom, you guys should watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It's fun, and funny.  Jim and I watch it all the time."

"Oh, Leslie, I tried watching it one night.  I just couldn't believe they were trying to pass the cast off as high school kids."

And Leslie looked at her silently for a minute and said, "Really?  That's the part that you couldn't buy into?  The vampires and stuff you made your peace with, but just couldn't suspend disbelief long enough to buy Sarah Michelle Geller as a Junior in High School?"

It's like that.  

In writing this post I couldn't remember the name of the movie, but I looked it up because I remembered Simon Baker was in it, and the blurb on IMDB and HBO and anywhere else I cared to look said nothing about zombie evolution. . . just that the zombies learned.  Which I guess means it wasn't the movie makers I thought I was laughing at anyway, but the people who do Xfinity's guide listings.  Morons.

This is the first and probably only blog post you'll ever read where I compare myself to my mother-in-law.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chess With Emma

Kasparov and Karpov
I sat at the table to play chess with Emma.  Santa got her a chess/checkers/backgammon board for Christmas.  It was a cheapo folding board with plastic pieces because Santa wasn't sure that Emma would play chess (despite telling me she wanted to learn) once she had a taste of it.  So Santa had his elves whip up a $8.99 multiboard and added it to her pile because Lily's seemed to have grown disproportionately large, and despite it being a bunch of crap she needed, it's all gotta be even.

So we sat, and Emma helped set up the pieces and we got down to the business of playing.  Playing chess with her has been really cool.  She's a quick study.  Actually quicker than I thought she'd be.  She's very bright, I don't mean to make it sound like my expectations were low because she's not bright.  She just has the attention span of a gnat and the patience of. . . well. . . of me.

She moves very cautiously; she doesn't like when her "pawneds" (sic) get killed, or when her "rookies" (sic) get into trouble, and I coach her and show her when I move my pieces what's being threatened and all the different ways she could move her pieces out of danger while gently correcting her nomenclature back to the more accepted "pawns" and "rooks".  And I make trades with her and point out moves where she can take my pieces.  Sometimes those moves come to her without me pointing them out.

This was our third game.  We hadn't completed one yet, but we started early enough that I thought we would tonight. 

Midway through the game I started to threaten her side of the board.  She caught on to her peril quickly.

"I see what you're doing," she said knowingly.
"Do you?" I countered.
"DO you?" I repeated dramatically.
"DO YOU??"
"I grow tired of this," she said, and I laughed.

We traded pieces and she moved her rook back out of danger.  Its edge caught on the seam in the folding board, and several of her pieces tumbled off.  She apologized as we picked them up and replaced them on the board.

"I should get us a better board," I said, "When I got this one I wasn't sure you'd really want to play it."

There was a silence in the room for a minute and Emma looked up at me, her eyes narrowing.

"What do you mean 'when you got this one?'  Santa got this for me."

I took it in stride.  I didn't even lie a huge amount.  I told her I got confused.  That I'd had an old chess board before she was born that was plastic pieces and her mom and I never played so I'd thrown it away.  

She didn't let it go at first, asking a couple other questions which I deflected before we got back to our game.

There is almost no way she bought my pathetic line of shit.  As previously stated, the kid is bright.  Am I trying to kill Santa?  Last year she was a hound of hell on the trail of Santa's mystery, but this year she didn't ask once.  I thought for sure it was because she'd figured it all out and was just keeping quiet thinking that if she unraveled the mystery, the presents would disappear, but then she was spouting the company line and writing presents to Santa and leaving out reindeer food and the whole shebang so I thought we made it one more year. . . 

Just before Christmas she did ask me point blank, and I dodged and asked her instead what SHE thought.  And I changed the subject and it didn't come up again.  If it were up to me I'd have told her, but I can't tell her unless my wife and I have agreed to it first, and frankly I don't know that Leslie would tell her until her 15th birthday.

So anyway, I possibly killed Santa this evening, and definitely killed my daughter at chess.  This time.