Archive for October, 2016

Two Hundred Black Belts and You and Me

two-hundred-black-beltsVirtually everyone in the auditorium is wearing a black skirt. This means that the auditorium is filled with black belts. Hundreds and hundreds of them. And me and PJ.

To be fair, there are some other non black belts, but we of the white belt level are in the considerable minority.

This does not do anything to bolster my mood.

We arrived this morning at 9:30. It’s a Saturday. The only physical exertion I want to undertake on a Saturday morning is rigorously spatulaing my scrambled eggs from a pan and maybe taking a few wild hook shots at the trashcan with grapefruit peels. Moreover, I am wearing the result of several Friday night beers in the form of a pretty piercing headache. And after a long week of work, I would rather be resting now and not exercising. But in all honestly, the main issue is the thorough rogering of my comfort zone.

Saturdays are a day for lounging and eating eggs that are riding carbohydrate vehicles to my mouth. They are for reading on the couch and then a walk that ends at a pub. A good Saturday is measured in the amount of naps I am able to slip into and out of, and by the vast solitude that I enjoy after a week of lecturing, teaching, and talking with students.

In a word: not an Aikido seminar. But here we are. With about 200 black belts.

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Any Questions!?

Any Questions?!

Any Questions?!

This Saturday Night Live skit has the television cheapness that SNL has been proudly displaying for 40 years. The far view of a tall building at night, a crack of lightning, and the words “Haunted Elevator” in B Movie spooky letters.

A couple sits on a haunted elevator, the conductor bringing them to different floors of spookiness as he shoots out the occasional tortured pun (“Now, hold on for dear death!”).

The couple jumps as the elevator doors slide open to reveal typical haunted house gimmicks: a hanged bride, a maniac with a severed head.

And then the doors open to reveal David S. Pumpkins. David S. Pumpkins is played by Tom Hanks, he is wearing a suit and tie of black and covered in large bright orange pumpkins. He is accompanied by two skeletons, who, when asked, tell the couple that they are “a part of it.” David S. Pumpkins tells them his name and they proceed to do a ridiculous dance to an unusual song. Before the doors slide closed, David asks in a loud voice: “Any questions?”

For about the next three minutes, I laugh harder than I have in the last three years. I mean, convulsive, otter-sounding, breathless laughing. And I have no idea why.

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The Trouble with Tuesday

Broken Phone with Carrying Case

Broken Phone with Carrying Case

The worst day of the week, by far, is Tuesday.

All of the other days have some benefit. On Wednesday we see the all important light at the end of the tunnel. Thursday, or malý Pátek (small Friday) in Czech, is the beginning of the weekend, when drinking becomes socially acceptable.

Friday is the unquestioned king of the weekday world, and people tend to celebrate it by working casually. The unwritten rule of Friday seems to be that no real work gets accomplished; the overwhelming mood of “weekend” billows through the office as people mentally sip a Friday night beer or eat a Saturday morning omelet.

There is no need to outline Saturday’s advantages. And I’ve always thought Sunday was sort of depressing, as my whole week is ahead, but at least I can sleep in and be prone on the couch without too much guilt. Say what you want about Monday, but at least the unpleasantness that was ahead of you on Sunday is now actually getting waded through.

But Tuesday sucks. Nothing good happens on one. And it seems as though the little niggling problems that can come up, do so on a Tuesday. And so it was with this last one. It had already been a hard week technology-wise. On the previous Friday, I dropped my phone on the tram. It fell face down on the metal floor, the unmistakable sound of glass breaking echoing through the vehicle. Everyone on the tram winced along with me, our collective worst nightmares becoming my reality. I picked it up gingerly to find that it had a comet-shaped shatter in its screen, a little slab of glass falling off in cruel mockery.

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Game Earth

simsA few months ago, I read an article posit that humankind, Earth, and the galaxy, is really just part of a simulation. I went “Haha.” Then I read a second article, this one in the Guardian, and I did another “haha,” but this one was uneasy.

Then there was the third article, this one by Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose shoes are smarter than me and then I was a little worried.

The hypothesis boils down to this: we humans live in a simulated reality that is run by some posthuman civilization. That means that our world is not real, but rather more like a computer game. No doubt if you have played any game like The Sims, 0 A.D, or Civilization, you are no stranger to the concept.

If you haven’t, just watch The Matrix to get up to speed.

I started thinking: What if we are just one simulated galaxy in one computer in the bedroom of one posthuman adolescent? I imagine him sitting above whatever a computer consul looks like in his posthuman world drinking whatever the posthuman equivalent of strawberry Yoohoo is, and eating whatever the posthuman equivalent of Hohos are. His posthuman mom is getting on his posthuman ass about cleaning his posthuman room. But he keeps blowing her off to check on his simulated galaxy of humans in his bootlegged copy of:

Game Earth: version 4,501,920,200 BCE – 2020

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You Hate Donald Trump

trumpAbout two years ago, I gave up the word hate. Similar to its cousin love, I found that I was using hate too often and inaccurately. I don’t hate mushrooms, I just don’t eat them. I further found that using hate too often, made me feel negative. To instantly use it as my go-to reaction was too easy and just made things more unpleasant than they needed to be.

So for two years, I have lived hate free.

After long and careful consideration, I have decided to take the word hate out of retirement to say this:

I Hate Donald Trump.

And you do too.

Even if you are voting for him, you hate him. Just think about it.

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Stuff I’ve Learned

wise-manOne of the benefits of being in my forties is that I find I am a much smarter person. This is not wisdom, so much as it’s just the result of forty years worth of accumulated observations.

Here are some of them.

If someone has to tell you they’re good at something, they are not.

Everyone will like you more if you dance like an idiot.

Nobody on Earth will ever be able to fully justify why I was forced to study trigonometry in the 11th grade.

Everyone has directly engaged their genitals in a conversation at least once in their lives.

I have been to roughly 1,390 meetings in the last twenty-six years. Eight of them have been useful.

The only person who can ruin a harmless joke by taking it too seriously than a staunch conservative is a staunch liberal.

There is no correct answer to these questions: Does this make me look fat? or Who are you voting for?

Nobody cares about your dreams. Nobody. Not even your psychotherapist.

If there is a God, I am fucked.

Before you send a naughty message to a crush, jerk off.

Everyone turns into their parents; then they go “aha.”

I’ve learned more of a second language in stressful situations than I ever have in a classroom.

As astoundingly bad, stupid, ignorant, and downright insane you think Donald Trump is, someone worse than him is going to show up in 8 years.

If George Carlin and Bill Hicks were alive Donald Trump would have committed suicide by now.

Cats are vindictive.

Pigeons are dicks.

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Killer Clowns

pennywiseWhen an adult hears some variation of the phrases: killer clowns terrorizing children sweeping nation, and he is not watching a B Horror Movie or an episode of The Simpsons, then something is afoot.

There is no way this is actually a thing, I thought. It must be an internet rumor. Something like this can’t be sweeping the nation.

But then it turned out to be true, in fact, that people dressed as killer clowns are following children around and scaring them. Not with balloons or seemingly endless links of hankies, but with honest to goodness threatening scare tactics. One knife-wielding clown jumped out from behind a bush to scare a bunch of children walking to school. Other clowns carrying around small knives have been reported by children all over English and the U.S.


Another pair of clowns pulled up in a van and invited a few young girls to a birthday party before speeding away.

Um. What?

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Kitty Tinder

cattinderIt happened on a Tuesday. “I’m in a bad mood,” I wrote to a friend.

“Well,” she said, “if it makes you feel any better, I just came across a friend’s husband on Tinder.”

Not entirely sure why someone else’s misfortune in the form of a cheating husband would brighten my mood, I didn’t answer. Rather, I sought solace in mindless sitcoms and the adding of cheese to ground beef. I literally grumbled around my flat until it was time to sleep.

The Tinder thing kept coming back to me, though. Undoubtedly it is a tempting resource for those looking for play on the side. It is, after all, a Rolodex of single, pretty people within 10 miles of you. However, your understanding of reality has to be a bit lacking if you don’t think you’re going to get caught trolling for a rendezvous partner.

There are fail safes. I think one can hide their profile from a specific variety of possible swipers. I think it’s also possible to block your profile from being viewed at all, so that you can essentially window shop for a mistress with a mask on.

But overall, it just seems like a thing that’s going to blow up in your face. One of your partner’s friends or loved ones is bound to see you on there and if you are married or in a long-term relationship and polygamy or Tinder aren’t part of the deal, you are going to have a lot of explaining to do.

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The Virgin Virgo

virgoI was a Libra up until a month ago. It was then that I saw a list of the “New Astrological Signs,” which that hussy sign Ophiuchus caused by showing up on our astrological doorstep.

While I have never been a devotee of our astrological guidance systems, I felt unsure about the news that I was no longer a Libra. It was as if I’d found that I was really from Dallas and not Philadelphia. In astrological terms, I spent 41.9 years as a Libra and 1 month as a Virgo.

I’d gotten used to being a Libra. It was comfortable being the only inanimate sign. I was the scales, just, balanced, diplomatic, and social.

To be frank, it never made a difference. It’s not as if I ever explained my dislike of loudmouths or my enjoyment of the outdoors by saying “Well, you know, I’m a Libra.” I never once offered my Libran tendencies as an excuse for why I’m indecisive or why I avoid confrontations.

But still, I was a fraud.

Now I have to be a Virgo. Worse still, I have to learn how to be a Virgo.

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