Archive for March, 2018

No Room for Music

I dropped it into the conversation. “Yeah, I’m going to see The Stones in July.”

There were four students in the room and they all squinted. Never a good sign.

“The…Rolling Stones.”

Squints narrow.

“Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.”

And then one of them said this: “Oh yeah, my grandfather loves them. But I think they’re kind of lame.”

I repeat: My grandfather loves them.

I repeat: I think they’re kind of lame.



I have heard old people say things about remembering exactly what they were doing when President Kennedy’s assassination was announced by Walter Kronkite.This was like that, but with a Slovak accent. I had never before actually heard blood pound through my ears and I found the whole experience rather painful and sad.

Two of them have admitted to liking the music of Justin Bieber. I was not going to go down easily in the face of that truth and so I instantly leapt to the defense of my choice. “Oh come on people! They’re such a great band.” They stared at me. “Sympathy for the Devil?” They stared. “Beggar’s Banquet?”



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Time at The Office

By far the best aspect of being alive at this time in history is the ability to watch nine years of a sitcom in about a month. And so it came to pas that I spent Sunday binge watching The Office (U.S). This also satisfies my tendency of falling on trends about seven years after everyone else.

The Office is one of the pioneers of mockumentary style sitcom, which masterfully combines quirky characters, improvisation, and cringe humor to a level that is painful to watch and yet irresistible.

I am now finally getting jokes people have been making for about thirteen years concerning The Office, I’m on The Office Memes on Facebook, and I say “That’s what she said!” about three times a day. But most of you have been there and you have done that. This is Harry Potter all over again.

In the last episode one of the show’s most annoying characters, Andy Bernard, is giving an interview. Andy Bernard constantly talks about his glory days as an A Capella singer at Cornell University. If he’s not doing that, he’s talking about a future goal. He is so lost in past nostalgia and future pipe dreams that he is often lost on what’s happening in the present situation. In his final interview he mentions how he now works at Cornell University, which is what he has always wanted, but he finds himself constantly talking about his “good old days” which is now his friends from The Office. It is this annoying character who then makes the entire series’ most poignant observation: “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

I suppose this struck a chord for a couple of reasons. First off, nostalgia can be one tricky siren. We often review the past with rose colored glasses, exaggerating the positives of the situation (freedom, friends, fewer responsibilities), while editing out the bad aspects (no money, no stability, loneliness). I think it’s very human to long for the days of yore.

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Facebook Games

Two days ago, Burke sent me an attachment with this message: Please do this!

You’ve seen those weird Facebook apps. What will you look like at 75? What would you look like with makeup? What would you look like if you were hit by a train?

This one: What would you look like if you were the opposite sex?

Never. Never, in my entire life, a life filled with unrestrained oddity, weird self queries, and idiotic reflection, in all of that time, have I ever once even considered what I’d look like as a woman.

Until now.

At first, I thought no. I won’t do this. Why? Well, sharing the photo would mean placing myself at the mercy of my friends, a great deal of whom are extremely clever and witty (read: cruel bastards) who would never let me forget how I looked as a woman.

Don’t share it, you say?

Well I don’t know if you’ve read this, but recently it’s become public that Facebook isn’t keeping our private data so private. Someone has invaded the playground. Not that this is so surprising, it’s just another rung in the story of how Facebook has gone from a place to catch up with old friends and see pictures of their cats, cars, and children to a place stinking of acrimony. It’s now a virtual place where a complete fucking asshole named Donald Trump is the child king in one way or another, and it’s a place where we now hear collocations like security breach and harvest data. And it turns out that our information is being given out top be used against us, thus confirming the most heretofore paranoid people. People are terrified of their embarrassing (read: naughty) pictures and conversations going public, which other people would delight in, were they not terrified about their embarrassing (read: naughty) pictures going public.

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Earn Social Bucks

I applaud China’s decision to implement the idea of not only rating social credit, but also punishing social transgressors and the socially awkward and rewarding the socially attractive. It’s about time that crimes such as accruing debt or hanging out with someone of a lower social status is punishable. How many times I’ve thought that someone who blocks a footpath with their bike or who issues an insincere apology should be added to a blacklist.

Once they’re on this list, they can be dealt with via appropriate recourse, which could be travel restrictions or, we can only hope, being completely socially outcast.

If there’s one thing social interactions and faux pas need, it’s more bureaucracy and legal punishment.

I’m pretty socially perfect. I fit in with snowflakes and rednecks. One of the cooks where I used to work said I had Street Cred because I drank Olde E. People always say things to me like: “You rock!” I break very few social rules, almost to a pathological degree. I always know what to say. I am a delight at a funeral! I am also super good looking but humble enough to know not to call attention to it; I am hyper aware of blocking people’s paths with things, mostly because I’m terrified of coming into contact with strangers’ calves or elbows. I don’t own a bike, and I have very little debt, which is one of the positive byproducts of having very little money. (That’s 5-18ths of a demerit. Hm)

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Life Headlines

We are all the heroes of our own story. And in our fantasies, news headlines reveal just that about us. Man Saves Family from Fire; Penguin Publishes Manuscript Found in Garbage, Becomes Instant Classic; Man, Though not Classically Attractive, Rated on Personality and Immediately Named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year and Sexiest Man Alive.

In our faceless way, we rock! And we want the world to know it.

But if there’s one horrifying reality, it’s that we are mostly mundane little creatures. And while our oddities, day to day struggles, and epiphanies mean a great deal to us, they wouldn’t amount to much when headlined on the New York Times.

Man Sends Colleague Irritated Text in Meeting that could have been (short) Email

Man Horrified to Learn that his Cat Posts aren’t Seen as Ironic by Bulk of Friends

Man Constantly Worries about Accidentally Sending Dick Pic to Entire Contacts List

Man Flays Boss in Mock Argument in Shower

Man Constantly Thanks Deity he Doesn’t Believe in that Nobody can Read his Mind

Man Occasionally Mentions Passing Interest in Birds to Make Himself More Sophisticated

Man Breathes Deeply when Burrito Loco is out of Wraps: Pretends Zen Attitude, but Really Afraid of Ending up in Viral Video

Man Thinks Joking about Practicing Casual Conversation Makes it Less Insane

Man Almost Loses Eye after Biting Cat’s Tail

Man Goes Berserk in Toilet after Boss Asks about Email she’d Sent Twenty Minutes Before

Man Realizes he Doesn’t Hate Taylor Swift after Hearing One of her Songs

Study Shows Man Understands Significance of Cultural Sayings Seven Years after Significant: True Story

Man Hums to Warn Urinators that He’s Pooping in Stall

Man Dreams of Bludgeoning Czech Clerk to Death with her Own Stamp

Man, 43, Stunned that Airplane Lifts off

Incensed Man Writes Blog after Realizing he only Gets about Thirty Facebook Friends in Feed: Facebook Does Not React

Man Suffers Nervous Breakdown after Students Refuse to use Target Language

Man Disillusioned after Mark Hamill Doesn’t Send him a Birthday Tweet

November 8th: Man Shaves Mustache after Nobody Realizes he’s Being Ironic

Man Feels Satisfied after Doing Laundry and Food Shopping on one Saturday; Will Reward Self with Reading and Maybe a Beer Later

What would be your life’s headlines?

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Evolution of a Cook

I cooked spaghetti and meatballs for a friend on Saturday. I never feel more like my grandmom than when I am adding pinches of salt to tomato sauce that I made from scratch. Or when I am kneading balls of meat and spices. Of course, the apron helps.

I am never going to appear on a television show for my cooking skills. Or for any reason, I guess. (well, not unless those Queer Eye gents ever respond to my emails.) But for the last five or so years I have developed my cooking skills so that I can not only state that I am a competent cook, but I can mean it.

But it has been a long road.

Like many of those who were raised by my mother, I didn’t grow up learning to cook. There was no need; my mom spoiled us. She cooked every day (sometimes after working eight to ten hours). At times, she relied on quick and easy standards to quell the voluble hunger pangs of the four kids and the dentist banging their forks on her kitchen table. There was mac and cheese, hotdogs, grilled cheese, and tomato soup. But more often than not, there was homemade pasta dishes, meatloaf, vegetables, or potatoes.

Besides occasionally reheating dinner or putting meat in between two pieces of bread, I didn’t raise a finger to feed myself from the age of 0:001 to17.8.

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Necessary Classroom Hardware

Like many teachers, I would like to address a recent proposal to add a particular piece of hardware to the classroom. It’s useful and, once loaded, does all manners of good if it’s in the right hands. I have spent my entire pedagogical career wishing and hoping that a social movement would carry us to this pivotal development. Teachers everywhere are ready for this implementation to their classroom arsenal.

People, it is time to give working staplers to every teacher. The benefits and advantages of having a working stapler in the classroom are unmatched. They keep things in line, they’re there in an emergency, and an entire office’s paper joining needs can be dealt with by one good guy with a working stapler.

That all said, I have never had a working stapler. Well, they work for an hour or two and then mystically jam. One of my colleagues says he wrote a paper on a middle school in Guam which had a working stapler that lasted for years without botching one staple attempt. But I don’t believe it. I’ll see Saint Francis’ likeness in a burrito before I see a permanent working stapler.

You know how school bureaucracy is, and bringing staplers into things just stirred up the maelstrom. We brought it up at the meeting and asked for a working stapler. (And by we, I mean I. A meeting made up of Czechs and Brits means that none of the Czechs will ever complain and if the British guy does, nobody who’s not British realizes they’re actually complaining, and instead think he’s just complimenting the cheese platter. So they always leave it to the bloody American, who’s too dull for nuance.)

Upon the request, the department head informed us that he was not a miracle worker. “What would we want next,” he asked, “livable wages?!” We all laughed at that one for a good while. Tears. Our disappointment was slightly ameliorated by the promise of a better printer to replace the printer we then had, which worked fine. As for the working stapler, he suggested that we get some of those plastic folios, because there wasn’t any money in the budget for a working stapler, or, as it turned out, those plastic folios. If we wanted a working stapler, we’d have to bring our own from home.

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Play Ball!

February 14th was the day Phillies pitchers and catchers reported for spring training this year. It should be a national holiday. Valentine’s Day can go fuck itself, people should buy cards and candies celebrating the fact that baseball season is around the corner.

Pitchers and catchers is start of the holiday season.

To the non-sports fan, the outside observer, a baseball game is just a football game that doesn’t stop every eight seconds for a commercial. Just another three hour period during which the fan in their lives looks at a TV and drinks beer and yells profanities. But to anyone who celebrates both, baseball is a whole different experience. It’s played at night. There’s no clock. It’s slower and longer. It’s filled with contemplation, discussion, humor. The drama builds and sometimes the excitement comes out of nowhere. The coaches aren’t complete assholes (I know. I know). And there’s no John Madden. Violence and injuries are unusual.

Baseball season is just as different. It’s played during the spring and the summer, when the days are longer and the mood is more optimistic and warm. The games often start in daylight and end in the wee hours. The season is a marathon, it’s long and it’s played almost every day of the week. A day without a Phillies game leaves you scrambling for another game. Fortunately, there’s always a game to watch somewhere.

Baseball evokes a whole set of images, sensations, and memories. The snap of the first pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt. Starting with a one-two-three inning. Realizing in the fourth inning that the opposition hasn’t had a hit yet, and knowing that everyone else in the room knows it too. And eternal damnation to anyone who brings it up. Baseball is a game filled with stories and anecdotes. Names like Dutch, Chase, and Schmitty. Brad Lidge on his knees on the mound. Rose assisting Boone near the first base dugout. Watching a day game during a barbecue, eating too many hotdogs and drinking a freezing cold beer. Sitting in the living room watching a night game in June or July, the crickets and chatter of summer outside the window. Catching highlights in the morning over a bowl of cereal. A scrub player stroking a double down the line and forgiving him all of his previous transgressions. Baseball is the closest I come to prayer.

In any event. Play ball!

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