Smahten Up

I’m told I have an accent. While I find this absurd – I am the only person I know who doesn’t have an accent – I sometimes see people light up when I say certain words, and it’s usually a cue to brace for the inevitable retort of, “pahk the cah at Hahvid yahd.” Let me tell you a secret: this most famous of let’s-sound-New-Englandy phrases does not amuse anyone from the northeast. This “joke” is a tired cliché, and compounding the insult is our disgust with you for thinking Read more [...]

The List and the Library

Tsunduko is a Japanese word that describes buying books and not reading them, or letting books accumulate unread on shelves, tables, or your life. I don’t know why there isn’t an English word for this phenomenon, because I know plenty of people whose homes fit that description. Even mine, and I have very little budget for buying books. If I could afford it, I’d quickly qualify for an episode of Hoarders. (“Did you notice how his bookshelf was made out of other books? How does a person let Read more [...]

Unexpected Inspiration

I would not have expected to learn a valuable life lesson from Martin Short. In fact, I wouldn’t have expected to learn anything at all from Martin Short, because the man is barely tolerable to me. I avoid his work whenever possible, but he snuck in this morning: I had the animated show The Cat in the Hat playing for my daughter and thought, “This is terrible casting for The Cat. Was Carlton the Doorman not available?”* Then I realized it was Martin Short and everything made sense. The show’s Read more [...]

All This Useless Data

I need more memory. Though I suspect the real problem isn’t storage capacity, it’s a cluttered hard drive. Just as my iPod refuses to load new apps because it’s out of drive space, my brain struggles to add new knowledge because it’s clogged with information – and too much of it is useless data. Not to pass the buck, but it all started with the 18-year old version of me, a guy who was an absolute idiot when it came to loading the mental hard drive. As is common when a person has a Read more [...]

Parsing the Lyrics of “Love Comes Walking In”

Poetic license is a powerful tool that enables writers to paint with a broad brush, to use words like an impressionist rather than a realist. It’s armor against the literalists who expect every I to be dotted and T to be crossed, yet it’s also a handy defense for mediocrity for those who can’t be bothered to self-edit. Personally, I view poetic license the same way I view a driver’s license – just as a driver’s license gives you the right to drive, but not the right to drive on the sidewalk, Read more [...]

Backseat Parenting

Being a dad for a second time is a totally different experience. When my first was born, I was a nervous wreck, barely hearing conversations around me because I was incessantly monitoring my daughter’s condition: She just coughed, was that her normal cough? Is there such a thing as a normal cough? Should I track cough frequency and chronicle it in a notebook? I have a blank page between poop colors and sneeze counts, I should totally jot this down. Wait, where’s my pen? Holy shit, I left the Read more [...]

Left, Right, and Wrong

I don't like talking about politics, and rarely do, for the same reason I don't like talking about religion: Too many people are too certain they are "right", which makes everyone else's opinions wrong. But throughout the election season I have watched my Facebook wall light up with venomous declarations of certainty and pronouncements of idiocy levied at anyone who holds a different opinion. Right wingers dismiss half of the nation as idiots intent on making America a Socialist nation, while left Read more [...]
September 18, 2012Permalink 5 Comments

The Lyrical Offenses of “Hey Jealousy”

My friend Ben, who I like and admire, recently attempted to sever our friendship by admitting to having fond memories of The Gin Blossoms. This is hard for me to accept because the band was borne from a tainted era of generic American "alternative" bands. If you lived through so-called modern rock radio in the 90s, you know the crop of crap I'm talking about — it was an endless potpourri of upbeat innocuousness sung by that annoying prick in your high school math class. The bands were generally Read more [...]

Pandora’s Boombox

Have you seen Louis CK's mini-monologue on The Conan O'Brien show, generally known as "Everything is amazing and nobody's happy"? I am not prone to hyperbole, but I think it's the most important four-minutes of television of the 21st century. In a humorous and curmudgeonly way, he lambastes the modern entitlement mentality and all that we take for granted. I'm 45 years old, and I couldn't agree more. I think of Louis' rant whenever I listen to music on Pandora. If you aren't familiar (and you are Read more [...]

Unspeakable Things

It seems we tend toward definitive beginnings and endings, usually deliberate and ritualistic: We start a new job by eagerly settling in at our new desk, and we leave the job cleaning out our desks; we write love letters that carefully articulate why we want more, then Dear John letters that carefully articulate why we've had enough; we make a virtual holiday out of birthdays and wedding anniversaries and other significant events that marked new chapters in our lives. Our resumes are a detailed timeline Read more [...]