ME: Yeah, lately I’ve been feeling my age.
HE: Oh, you’re starting to get some aches and pains?
ME: Nah, physically I feel great. Best I’ve ever been.
HE: Then you’re starting to forget things?
ME: I’ve always forgotten things. Now is no different.
HE: Then why do you feel your age?
ME: Because I realized that in a few years, if you were to travel back in time and attend the world premiere of Back to the Future, you’d be traversing the same span of years that Marty McFly did when he visited his parents in the ‘50s.
ME: My ‘80s is like the ‘50s to the kids of today, see.
HE: ...maybe you should be very selective about the people you make that analogy to.
ME: I know! I don’t want to just randomly depress people.
Posted by Greg at 08:52 AM on 01/18/09
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My parents both joined Facebook recently. It was kind of a strange experience being “friended” by them. I thought, hey, my parents could be my friends, that could work.
But in attempting to work the system, my mother ended up de-friending me, and I suddenly recognized a whole world of untapped trauma facing today’s millenials and pre-teens:
PSYCHOLOGIST: “What seems to be the problem, young lady?”
YOUNG GIRL: “My Mom de-friended me on Facebook. I feel that I am worthless in this world.”
PSYCHOLOGIST: “You can’t place your sense of self worth in whether your mother is part of your Facebook network. You must self-actualize.”
YOUNG GIRL: “But she not only did she friend my brother--they also exchange Superpokes on a daily basis.”
PSYCHOLOGIST: “Oh. Then you’re completely f@#*(&.”
However, my mother figured it out the system and friended me again, which I found very empowering.
Then she put up a photo:
My father, impressed with her choice of photo, offered this background to me and my brother:
“Your mom was cleaning the refrigerator. It was just before we were married or just after. She was 22 or 23. She was hot, tired and annoyed I was taking pictures. She was wearing old cut-off jeans, so far as I recall, that don’t show in this picture. I thought she was the prettiest and sexiest thing I had ever seen at that moment, so I got the camera, a plastic box brownie as I recall that used 120 film, and took several pictures. It is still my favorite picture of her.”
I’m glad that it’s my father’s favorite picture of her. I, however, am a bit more ambivalent. Because, frankly, I’m forced to admit she’s a stone fox (by way of Elvis Costello’s eyewear), and admitting that aligns me a lot more to backwater Kentucky families than I’d care to admit.
Posted by Greg at 08:36 PM on 01/11/09
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Confound societal expectations; wear both boxers and briefs.
Slap hard anyone who utters the phrases “at the end of the day,” “it is what it is,” or “chillaxes.”
Never ever give you up, let you down, or run around. And definitely don’t desert you.
Keep eating vegetables; it’s not impossible that I could have another growth spurt before I turn 40.
It’s against California law to talk on a blackberry or send texts while driving--so restrict driving activities to web surfing, downloading ringtones, and playing “Brickbreaker.”
For karaoke? It’s either The Cheetah Girls or stay home.
Spend more time with George W. now that his schedule has finally cleared up; suggest going back to frequent Paintball & Cocaine weekends.
Pedicures, pedicures, pedicures.
The joke is getting old, so stop referring to my penis as my “land line.”
This year, finally and categorically, once and for all--no parking on the dance floor.
Posted by Greg at 07:29 PM on 01/01/09
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I’ve received some nice gifts from my colleagues this holiday season, but my favorite was a Bratz doll from two 20something girls in the office:
Their note--"Merry Christmas, Office Pimp!!! Love, the Hoes"--is in reference to the fact that one of the girls, who is new to the company, apparently saw me talking to women and only women. The fact is, I talk to many genders. Well, at least two of them. But she told her boss, who is a good friend of mine, that she considered me to be the Office Pimp. When I heard this, I sent her an email regarding some other subject and replaced my job title with “Office Pimp” in my email signature. And so a nickname was born.
She and an ally of hers subsequently joined forces to bequeath me with Yasmin, a highly fashionable Bratz doll. I wrote a carefully considered thank-you note to the both of them:
“Thanks for helping me find my new best friend. We had a great time over the weekend putting glitter on ourselves and shopping. And it’s great having someone else just like myself who understands the need for ‘High-Fashion STYLE!’ As office pimp, of course, she is available for general use. Please contact me for rates (special seasonal discounts now in effect).”
Now that all the banter has died down, though, I’m wondering if this is really all just a joke. After all, the economy isn’t doing so well and we all need to be considering ancillary revenue streams. 10% of the gross doesn’t seem like such a bad deal to me--and besides, I think I’d really rock a leopard skin hat.
Posted by Greg at 08:43 PM on 12/22/08
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In my day, we went to a music show and we listened to the music. Okay, sure, you could often see flashbulbs popping around the club or stadium as people attempted to capture a visual souvenir. But it’s become completely out of control these days with people’s digital cameras and blackberries, clicking away during the show at all times as they try to snag an image or a video clip. I’ve seen people practically watch the show through the lens of their mobile devices, recording away instead of losing themselves to the music.
Why do they do this? Is it so necessary that your YouTube page get tons of hits? Are you bragging to your friends that you’re at a show, when they, in fact, probably had something better to do--like see a band and actually listen to the music?
Don’t you understand that the few weeks have been terrible, like a brick bat slamming against the back of your head? And that next week could very well be like a wheelbarrow of granite rocks being dumped on your face? And that this is potentially your only chance to escape it all as LoveFoxx, lead singer of Brazilian indie dance outfit CSS, launches into an awesome version of “Let’s Make Love (And Listen to Death From Above)”? And that you really need to detach yourselves from your material objects and dance? And that if you don’t, there’s a very good chance that I’m going to punch you in the back of the head?
And that I’m not just saying all this because I failed to catch a single good shot of LoveFoxx?
CSS - Let’s Make Love (And Listen to Death From Above) - Studio Version
Posted by Greg at 03:11 PM on 12/14/08
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I like cover songs because I often feel as though most of what we do is like enacting a cover song. You think you’re raising your child the way you want? You’re just doing a version of a song that your parents taught you. You think you’re handling your various challenges on your own terms, using your best instincts and judgment? You’re just rearranging an old tune. Even you decide to go in the direction of zydeco and eschew death metal, everything you’re doing is still completely recognizable--all you can do is switch up the rhythm, the pacing, and the syncopation.
Here’s a song that’s generally considered to be ‘80s camp, but this fantastic cover teases out its power and makes you hear it for the first time. I won’t even tell you the title just in case you’re old enough to be familiar with the song; it’ll be more interesting when it creeps up on you and you suddenly recognize it. Good work, Harvey Girls.
The Harvey Girls mp3
Posted by Greg at 06:33 PM on 11/30/08
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The call came last week on Sunday morning. My sister-in-law had gone into labor, and my brother asked me to babysit my 4 1/2 year old niece, Cameron, while newcomer Emerson was ushered into the world.
The challenges began almost immediately. As I took Cam to the park in order to spend a few hours while her mother gave birth, she immediately asked me why she couldn’t stay and watch the c-section. And then she kept asking me about it.
What had her father told her? I didn’t know, so I just decided to give her a different answer every time.
“Why can’t I watch the c-section?”
“Because it’s boring.”
“Why can’t I watch the c-section?”
“Because it already happened.”
“Why can’t I watch the c-section?”
“Because your father only wants you exposed to As and Bs, in anticipation of your pending academic career.”
After the park and lunch, we went back to the hospital, waited a bit more, and eventually Cameron met Emerson:
My guess is that she is going to be a fantastic big sister.
This was the sweet and sentimental part of the day. Cold reality set in when I prepared to take Cam back to my brother’s house for a few days, as Geoff was planning to stay at the hospital with Emerson while his wife recovered. Geoff wrote out an schedule for me to follow. It was literally broken out into thirty and fifteen minute increments, such as:
7:00-7:30 Bath time. Use shampoo and conditioner then blow dry her hair.
7:15-30 Brush and floss her teeth.
7:30-45 Sing and read to her. Only three books.
I said, “You realize that if I can’t follow this, I’m just going to hunt wild game for dinner and then we’ll sleep on your roof.”
He said, “Just keep her entertained.”
Mostly it went okay, although there were many unforeseen problems. For example, she had issues with my lullabies. Something as simple as “Are You Sleeping” met with protest because I would know it just a bit differently than Geoff did. ("It’s din din DONG not DING DING dong,” she protested. I said, “Look, I’ve heard your father sing before. Your problem isn’t that the words are wrong--it’s just that this is is the first time you’ve ever heard these songs sung in the correct key.")
And then there were the problems of her having trouble sleeping, not wanting to eat, and of course bouts of child rebellion:
“Cam, put your pants back on. It’s time to go to school.”
“Do you want to go to school without pants?”
“I’M STAYING AT HOME AND NOT WEARING PANTS!”
And then that evening, she snuggled up into my arm and said “I’m really glad you’re here, Uncle Greg.” And I felt bliss wash over me and I hugged her. But then later:
“HAHAHA! NO PANTS!”
I really hope she gets out of that phase by the time she turns sixteen.
It was an exhausting couple of days, but there was much that was learned. For example, she learned that I take big bites when I eat ("That is half your head!") and I learned...well, I learned a lot of things.
Babysitting is easier when you put an “Uncle tax” on your brother’s instructions. For example, if he says read Cam three books, actually read four. You are the Uncle, and you are not bound by rules any more than Chuck Norris is.
If you’re unable to precisely emulate your brother’s style, make up your own. For example, if Cam doesn’t like the words you sing for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” make up new ones--e.g. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Cam/You really like peanut butter and jam.” This will be a big hit.
The Sprout channel on TV is scary. That teenage girl who hosts it has this constant, frozen smile on her face like she’s been given a huge shot of botox.
When driving children to school, keep kleenex in the car at all times. If one sneezes and you turn around and she’s grinning at you through a glistening starfish of snot, you will be forced to empty your gym bag while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in order to find a towel that she can use, which is all more of a Steve Guttenberg moment than anyone really needs.
Trust your instincts, mean well, and don’t go stingy on the ice cream--and children will give you all the slack in the world.
As for Em, whom I only met briefly--sorry I had to greet and run, but don’t worry. I made a promise to Cam a while back and you get the same one.
In fact, it might even be more pronounced. That was five years ago, and you have to account for inflation.
Posted by Greg at 04:46 PM on 11/23/08
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Do the Conga.
Do the Locomotion.
Do the Crazy Frog.
Rack up exes.
Enjoy lifetime usage of my current TIVO player.
Teetotal (never used).
Posted by Greg at 12:15 PM on 11/14/08
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My cousin Anne is visiting this weekend. At one point, she asked about the longevity of this blog, and I admitted to her that my posting schedule has continued to dwindle as I’ve both lost interest and been sucked further into work and my personal life. However, I also told her that I intended to keep the site open indefinitely, even if there’s not a single person reading, just to have an electronic “post-it” note upon which to scrawl whatever thoughts I feel like putting somewhere.
For example, Anne is currently sleeping on my couch while I sit across from her and catch up on work and email. It is no surprise that she’s taking a snooze at 1:10 pm; yesterday we did a walking tour of San Francisco that started on Market Street and ended at the very end of the Wharf, and punctuated with a ride in a cable car that was so overcrowded that we dangled off the sides while we went speeding down hills. “PLEASE PULL INTO THE CAR” the conductor shouted whenever another cable car came at us from the opposite direction, and we pressed up against a sitting British couple and tried to avoid being grazed, nicked, or squashed by the oncoming traffic. All of this was topped off by watching The Faint at the Warfield (as well as their very perky opening act, Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head).
Anyway, the point is, Anne is now taking a nap over a copy of Junot Diaz’s The Brief, Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao that I let her borrow, and I notice a few things:
She has not let the book drop from her fingers, but has the book open to her place so she can easily wake up and start reading whenever she feels like it.
Her expression is unusually thoughtful for a sleeping person, indicating that she is mulling over the book’s themes and motifs subconsciously.
When given the right conditions, Anne can take a nap even if she had two cups of coffee and a coffee-flavored milkshake earlier in the day.
See? These thoughts are meaningful, rich in intellectual substance, and worthy of being committed to posterity. Long live my dead blog.
Posted by Greg at 02:15 PM on 11/09/08
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On my commute to work there’s a huge, Victorian stagecoach smack in the middle of someone’s lawn. A dead person appears to sleep inside of it, his skeletal hands dangling out the window. At night it glows with blue lights. A few blocks down there’s a shambling haunted house made out of cardboard and splattered with fake blood. Many other houses have sickly orange lights strung across them, as though they were Christmas lights that came down with malaria.
This has to stop. Christmas decorations have become increasingly more elaborate over the years--large chemistry sets recreating the eucharist ("blood goes here, wine exits here") and whatnot--but is it really necessary that Halloween follow suit?
These displays aren’t scary; they’re garish. And Halloween needs to be about the scary. It needs to be a quiet, creepy pulse tapping in your veins--not elaborate sets and lightshows.
What I find particularly disturbing is that their creators are the same people who get crazy in December as well. So they spend tons of time on the Halloween decorations, pull them down, and then spend tons of time on the Christmas decorations. I would like to visit these people door to door and suggest a variety of hobbies for them, including scrapbooking. Perhaps they could volunteer at a soup kitchen. Perhaps they could travel to interesting and exotic parts of the globe, and perhaps not come back.
I live in a condo, but if I owned a house, I would not go to these extremes. I would hang up a few choice decorations designed to elicit sharp feelings of terror--such as paper mache skeletons, the last few Supreme Court opinions authored by Antonin Scalia, and some of my recent attempts at cooking. That’s it. No need to drop three hundred at Home Depot.
Aside from Christmas, I can only think of two holidays that truly deserve this kind of in-depth decoration and design. The first is Arbor Day, because really, who doesn’t want more trees? The second is Valentine’s Day. I would greatly enjoy a world where suburban families tried to outdo each other in terms of increasingly romantic, and then erotic, lawn displays: “Honey, you’ll simply have to do better next year. The ‘Honeymoon Night’ scene was impressive last year, but the Parkers have just built recreations of the first seven chapters of the Kama Sutra. I won’t be able to face Phyllis at the PTA meeting if we can’t up our game.”
Posted by Greg at 08:34 PM on 10/26/08
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Much like a salmon swimming upstream, every five years or so I find myself returning to a particular point on the map--Disneyland. It calls out to me and I must answer.
There is always learning in store at Disneyland. For example--how much will the little clam-chowder-in-a-bread-bowl thingie cost this year? Shouldn’t the “Princess Fantasy Faire” be relocated to a more adult park, based on the name alone? If you speak to the actress playing Jasmine in Arabic, will she be able to answer?
This time, my friend and I found ourselves talking a lot about kids and how one should treat them while at Disneyland. My first rant was about taking very, very young kids in the first place. My niece is four, and she hasn’t gone yet--because, according to my brother, she’ll be too young to remember anything. I agree with this wholeheartedly. What’s up with all the strollers? Why not stay in your living room, put your babies in a stroller, and spin them around until they’re dizzy? That’s about the equivalent of going to Disneyland as far as they’re concerned.
Also, if you do bring young children, don’t put them in Woody’s Halloween Roundup, which is an arts and crafts tutorial:
You want your kids to compete in the real world. Make them toughen up and ride Space Mountain, not make little crummy arts and crafts. Disneyland is not a goddamn kindergarten class.
On the flip side, though, don’t scare the hell out of your kids. We were riding Pirates, and my friend overheard the parents telling their four year old: “See over there? It’s a dead person! See that? They’re shooting at each other? Oooh, scary!” And then afterward they said “Did you like the ride?” “NO,” screamed the boy and burst into tears. It’s okay to help your children separate fantasy from reality, people. That’s actually part of the parental job description.
Otherwise, kids won’t know whether this sort of image is fantasy or reality:
(Hint: it’s reality.)
My friend and I split on the subject of leashes. Is it okay to keep your kid on one?
She says “no.” Even if the kid doesn’t seem to mind at the time, she feels he will grow up tainted by the experience and feel diminished as a person. “And become a furry,” I suggested, although she did not think that was inevitable.
However, I am sympathetic to the idea of leashes. If I ever became a parent, I would be worried that I would lose or misplace my child. I mean, my luggage gets lost half the time; what might happen if I carted a kid around? That said, I do think the leashes are distasteful. I regard them the same way I regard reality TV show contestants--I wouldn’t want to legislate them out of existence, but I can’t imagine becoming one myself.
And in regards to how old a kid can be before hanging out at Disneyland just becomes weird?
Your mileage may vary, but my vote is 108.
Posted by Greg at 06:03 AM on 10/15/08
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My good friends Adam and Meredith got married yesterday. They both live in San Francisco, but Adam is from England and Meredith is from Michigan. They placed some helpful signage directly outside of the ceremony area:
It was a very solemn wedding.
Posted by Greg at 11:47 AM on 10/12/08
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Thanks to Baltimore’s Mix 106.5 for apparently reading the below post over the air during their morning show. And thanks to Mary S. for emailing me and telling me that it happened.
This fulfills one of my long-time fantasies, of having something of mine read to a bunch of commuters and they have no way to escape. That is, aside from putting in a CD or just turning off the radio, but shut up, this is my fantasy and I make the rules.
Posted by Greg at 10:36 AM on 10/11/08
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One thing I really hate about the current election is the sudden widespread use, by both parties, of the term “Main Street” to refer to average Americans. I grew up in a town that did have a Main Street, but the primary street was actually called “State Street.” Do any of these politicians know anything about State Street?
My recollections of State Street include cruising up and down it with my friends during high school. There was never a lamer activity for teenagers than cruising. We went up, turned around, and went back down, always feeling as though some major piece of our lives was missing. We couldn’t put it a name to it. Now, of course, I can--it’s called “The Internet.” But back then we didn’t know that so we just kept cruising.
State Street also had a scary bar called The Forest Club. Creepy regulars hung out on the street corners and looked at us, their rheumy eyes swimming with alcohol and regret. Is the new administration going to assist these people? They are not just Joe Six Pack; they are Joe Carton, Joe Case, and Joe Five Bottles of Jack. Although actually, later in life I was old enough to go inside the Forest Club and found out they had a shuffleboard, so the place turned out to be not scary at all, but still.
I am not impressed by references to Main Street. These days I live on Moss Avenue. I would like it if my potential candidate stared directly at the camera and rumbled, in a Harvard baritone, “I intend to help out everyone on Moss Avenue by ensuring that they’re employable for the rest of their lives, except maybe for that one guy who picks up aluminum cans while mumbling to himself--he seems to be all set.”
Or if the candidate turned to the camera, winked, unbuttoned the top three buttons of her blouse, hiked up her skirt, and said “I’m going to make sure that the residents of Moss Avenue have a brand-new Wii, and they’re also invited to my house for a Truck Drivers and Schoolgirls party. Although, maybe not the guy who picks up aluminum cans while mumbling to himself.”
I have nothing in common with these candidates, which I expected from the outset, but I am tired of them throwing around the term “Main Street” as though they have something in common with me. In the final analysis, they are all only marginally better than having a Czar or a Pharaoh.
Posted by Greg at 03:29 PM on 10/05/08
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From “Living on a Prayer”:
“She said we’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got/It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.”
Whoa, hold on here a second. A few lines up, it was clearly stated that “Tommy used to work on the docks/Union’s been on strike/He’s down on his luck/It’s tough.” And now this chick is saying that none of that matters? All Tommy needs is her? If I were Tommy, I’d be all “Listen you @*&*@ freak, if none of this matters, I’m not even going to try to go look for work. You think working on the docks is a picnic? Screw it. I’m gonna sit here and watch football. We may be half way there, but you can @*(&*@ carry me the rest of the way. And bring some beer with you.”
From “You Give Love a Bad Name”:
“Blood red nails on your fingertips.”
This is the sign of someone who gives love a bad name? Red fingernails are actually pretty common. What would you prefer, cyan? Get a grip, Jon.
From “Bad Medicine”:
“Shake it up, just like bad medicine.”
Is this a typical practice with bad medicine? You grab on to it and shake it? If it’s really bad medicine, wouldn’t it be likely to explode in your face? I do not believe that we should all shake it up just like bad medicine. I believe that if we actually identify bad medicine, we should pass it on to a qualified medical practitioner.
From “Blaze of Glory”:
“I never drew first but I drew first blood/I’m the devil’s son, call me young gun.”
So, you’re saying that you never drew first but you drew first blood? Which means you only shot in self defense. This means that you never actually went up against anyone with an ounce of skill but against extremely incompetent adversaries, and then made your reputation by gunning them down. Who did you get into a duel with, Mr. Magoo? I am going to call into question that you actually went down in an alleged “blaze of glory” if this was the way you chose your combatants.
Posted by Greg at 08:55 PM on 09/22/08
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