Sunday, October 15, 2006

Habeas Corpus Dead at 800

Congratulations President Bush, you have officially brought the United States back to pre-revolution times. So now, instead of living in a free society, we actually live in a society where a person can be held indefinitely without a trial. Smells like liberty to me. Here's a thought George. Remember what happened the last time someone decided people shouldn't have Habeas Corpus? Did you study the American revolution? Probably not. Is it possible you're actually creating the terrorism you so desperately are using as a political platform?

Thanks Asshat for taking away constitutional rights. I suppose, under the new definition, I could be considered an enemy combatant for thinking somebody should fight this bill. Maybe he can start up an organization devoted to capture and hold, or "police" anyone with negative thoughts about our government. That would show those terrorists we mean business.

I'm actually appalled at the total lack of news coverage on this bill being approved and sent to Congress. Personally, I blame Katie Couric for turning the news into another entertainment magazine.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Okay, so you've been bought out by Google for several billion dollars. You are probably now among the richest people in cyberspace. So what do you do next? According to the YouTube guys, you do this:

Couldn't they have thought of something more eloquent or fancy?

Here's a more appropriate response:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Harry Wha?

Is this article about Harry Potter the dumbest thing ever? It's not even bad literary criticism, where the author is merely choosing the segments of the piece they read to prove their bogus theory. It's as if the writer has no ability to infer past what is explicitly said, kind of like my lower level 9th graders do. It never says Harry studies in the books, so he must not!

Oh, grow up!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Damn Democrats

This whole Mark Foley scandal can be broken down into one thing: Democrats have let the country get so morally out of control, that republicans can no longer control their deviant behaviors. Seriously, Democrats have won and completely usurped any moral code this country ever had. Instead, we are replaced by Republicans who drink too much so that they have the courage to IM young boys in explicit fashions.

Seriously, democrats including Ned Lamont are ruining our morality.

Personally, I think Foley was induced by the commie democrats running Hollywood. After all, they have all those shows suggesting how homosexuality is an okay lifestyle. How can anyone control their urge to elicit favors from teen male pages when network television is telling us that having an adult homosexual relationship is acceptable? If anything, Mark Foley is a martyr who is willing to take a fall so that the rest of the country can be elightened to how bad democrats have let the country slide.

They think they are so smart.

Monday, September 25, 2006

How do you pose at Ground Zero?

One of the things I like doing while I'm in Manhattan is to take a trip to the Winter Garden, directly adjacent to the footprints of the World Trade Centers. It's a stark reminder to me of the evil that humanity is capable of. Often I sit on one of their benches and ponder what it takes for us to undertake a massive project such as rebuilding. Staring at them should be a moment of contemplation and an opportunity to reflect.

What I saw (for the first time visiting the site) is people taking pictures of themselves in front of the construstion site. One woman was affecting poses, one looking sad, one meditative while one of herself smiling. I found this tacky for many reasons.

A. In case you didn't realize, Ground Zero is still a site where over 3000 people lost their lives. How many people are eager to take pictures of themselves next to stranger's coffins?

B. Ground Zero is the site of a massive tragedy, not a tourist trap. It will hopefully be a tourist trap when the new building is erected, but for now please leave it alone.

C. There is no way to properly pose for the picture that's genuine. No one is happy to be there, yet blunt sadness isn't quite the right feeling either. Please don't even try because it just seems wrong.

I don't mind a picture of the actual site, but when you place yourself in it, it becomes all about you at the site. If you want a memory of the destruction for your own reflections, that's probably a better keepsake.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Conspiracies Involving Matzoh Balls

The following are Jewish conspiracies I am willing to reveal today because tonight it is a Jewish High Holy Day (Rosh Hashanah):

1. Insist the world isn't eating enough. Frequently refer to it as "skin and bones". Gradually increase the obesity epidemic until Jews (with our famously fast metabolisms) are the only ones under 300 pounds.

2. Take over Brooklyn and Long Island! Okay, we kind of already completed this one. Moving on...

3. Call everyone in the world and ask them when they are getting married. Insist that if they haven't already met a nice girl/boy, then they better get started. Whine a lot until they get married and when everyone is distracted, take over the world.

4. Buy all the cellphone companies. Leave messages on everyone's phone saying " Why haven't you called your mother? What is she, chopped liver? You're too much of a bigshot?" Profit.

5. Cook really delicious brunches on Sunday so people will stop attending churches. Casually remark how much easier it is to attend temple on Saturdays.

6. Store up tons of food while simultaneously complaining about how there aren't enough grandchildren. When the world's population explodes, control the food market, and by proxy, the world.

Finally, I've gotten these off of my chest and don't feel so guilty. I will be able to repent on Yom Kippur. Any other Jewish folks, feel free to add any Jewish conspiracies I missed. Please don't let this list get into the hands of anyone at Jew Watch.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I've Gone Mad...

...and written THIS for my Joyce class journal. I told you people it would happen sooner rather than later:

I need to admit something rather private in my reading journal this week. It’s alright, trust me I’m a blogger. In fact, I’m not just a blogger, but as my (nasty word redacted) professor Colin McEnroe refers to me, “A rock star blogger who will someday die overdosing on an eightball from all of his fame.” I’m not that famous-not yet anyways. My point was rather that I’m used to admitting rather private things to strangers.
Anyways, my private admission is that I’m bored. It’s my tenth year of post high-school education and I’ve lost my fervor. I came to Trinity with a motivation to learn, and my first seven years went fairly well. The fire that went into my learning has burned me out. So I’m looking for new things other than reading journals to do each week. Don’t get me wrong, your assignment is great and I’m sure I will pass if I write them.
I suppose being bored isn’t all that private an admission. After all, lots of people are bored. Come to my class someday and you’ll see the very epitome of boredom from my students. I like to ramble when I’ve had too much coffee and high schools freely dispense coffee.
I’d like to add, in case you were feeling insecure, that it’s not you, it’s me. Your class seems great and exciting and I know I will do all the work with passion. Seriously, I know you’re wondering what you can do to spice up our teacher/other teacher but also a student relationship. Don’t worry about it. It has nothing to do with your class or you as a person.
The first time I read Portrait, I was scared so ridiculously that I put it down and forever swore that James Joyce was the devil. I was seventeen. At that age, any author who wrote in a complicated manner was the devil. Don’t even get me started on what I thought of Dickens or Steinbeck.
Rereading it, I know what it was and realize my teacher’s mistake. My teacher was older, with a thick gray beard and huge sunken eyes. I adored him because he told the most fascinating stories. Saying he made a mistake is tantamount to heresy for me. But upon reflection, he made huge mistakes in teaching Joyce.
I’m ruminating on this because I, as a teacher, often read through the lens of what I can teach. So I was thinking of how I would teach Portrait as a high school teacher. What kinds of changes would I make and such.
Here’s my problem with the way I was taught it. The professor told us to just read it. Guess what happened? Seriously, guess. Have you figured it out? Right, he told us to read the opening without telling us a single thing about Joyce or Ireland or what a bildungsroman is. Guess who didn’t read a single word of Portrait after reading the first page? Me being the sly young man I was at that age, I read the first page to my mother, who quickly endorsed my plan to not read it. She likes Danielle Steele books.
I’ve been considering what the best way is to introduce a seventeen or eighteen year old to the stream of consciousness in the beginning of the book. Personally, I would create a really cool PowerPoint that blends the text with images to clarify what is going on. Playing that PowerPoint many times would be paramount.
Here, I wrote an example of it:

Once upon a time…


Hairy Face dad/Baby Tucow

And so on…

Get the idea? It’s all about showing the imagery of stream of consciousness. I’m still working on the wetting the bed section. It’s going to be a little more complicated.
By the way, as a teacher, I know how boring it is to read many of the same paper, so I hope this at least made your reading experience a little more interesting. It sure made my writing experience a little more interesting. Check out my blog sometime:
Yes, I might as well accept my F now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bar Mitzvah

When I was younger, I was somehow convinced I would die on the day of my Bar Mitzvah. I couldn't ever possibly see a life after it. So when the day came, and I was alive, I was surprised.

I've always had this sort of tenuous relationship with my faith. Judaism has been complicated for me, especially considering the way in which my parents made me attend Hebrew School, but only seemed to give lip service to it. Since Hebrew School ended I have scarcely stepped into a temple. I've read from the Torah, I showed support for my heritage, and respected my family. For the time, I was finished with Judaism.

Which is why I was surprised at my fervor over this website. The crazy Jewish conspiracies have always made me laugh. I'm just so surprised this type of propaganda survives today.

I mean, upon the day of my Bar Mitzvah, they took me into a secret room and outlined all of the secret plans for us to take over the world.

First Step: Constantly self-depricate ourselves every chance we get into the media, so that the rest of the world things we are weak.
Second Step: Piss off Mel Gibson.
Third Step: Don't you wish you knew Jew Watch...

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Do people just not read literature or watch movies anymore?

I Have a Problem...

I'm an addict. Which is to say I was in Southern Connecticut yesterday, ate a huge dinner of fried seafood and remarked that I would never eat again. At the time I was serious. Returning home, I kept my decree and did not stop. Instead I drove straight home.

Around eight, while watching Iron Chef America, I finally began geting itchy. The chef make a wonderful looking tofu custard, which immediately activated my addiction. I shook, and commented I needed to go back on my promise. Then I promptly set off in search of a blizzard.

We were all sitting in the cold, sterile room. Most of us were shaking, in desperate need for our fix. My addiction hasn't beccome that bad, so I merely moved my fingers in my pocket. A woman in front of me had it so bad that she was literally dancing, twirling around and dancing about how excited she was to be getting her ice cream. She was simultaneously screaming at the employees for taking too long and planning what blizzard she was going to order next time. I checked several times to make sure she wasn't just a large child.

I've inherited this problem from my mother who, after a huge German buffet in Epcot, announced she wanted to go to Dairy Queen. We mostly sat around watching her eat a vanilla cone. I went looking for the bible which seems to reside in all southern Dairy Queens. Personally, I like my blizzard blended with a touch of scripture.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Why I'm the Way I Am

I'm a nice person. That isn't saying I don't have my moments of fury, or disappointment, but in general I find that when I wake up I want to be as nice to as many people as I can be. It's fun to watch people smile as I walk down the hall and address them by name. It's nice to be remembered and thought of.

Lately I've been wondering why. What compels me to want to be nice and helpful to people? Why do I find more interest in assisting others than assisting myself?

The answer came yesterday, when I stopped at Stop & Shop on the way home. I stepped out of my car to find two ladies that seem very frustrated. They had locked their keys in their trunk and were trying to wedge their arms into the car and open the lock.

I tried really hard to be nice. They wanted me to jam my arm in and trip the lock. My niceness was tested when I realized I couldn't do that. There was just no way I was sticking my hand in a stranger's car and risking the possibility of damaging the car or myself.

So I tried giving her several other options. I offered to call the police (she laughed and told me there was no way she was getting the police involved) or a tow truck or a locksmith. The only think she would allow me to do is stick my arm into her car.

I said no, and walked into the store.

When I came out, they were still there, searching for an answer. I smiled at them and asked if there was anything else I could do, but she said that I wasn't being helpful. So I began to enter my car to leave when she screamed at me that "this wouldn't have happened to me if I wasn't black!"

As I sped off, I was more confused than anything. I wanted to know what she meant. Was she accusing me of being unhelpful because she was black, or did she blame her race on the fact that she locked her keys in her trunk? How did her race have anything to do with it?

It jostled me a bit, and as I returned home I pondered why I felt so bad. I was wondering if I could have been nicer and helped her more. But most of all, I was angry at her for screaming at me when all I did was stop and talk to her.

That's why I am the way I am. I don't like being screamed at or made fun of or totally ignored. I want people to be nice to me, and the only way I can do that is to set a precedent. If the woman had not screamed at me, I would have done almost anything to help her. But instead I smiled curtly and drove away.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

No Seriously, I Can't Stand It

Is President Bush serious? Maybe it's just me, or I'm not the political analyst I thought I was. But using his speech last night as a very brief tribute to 9/11 victims and then launching into an extended oration about why we need to continue fighting in Iraq is just wrong. It really sums up the way in which his administration takes emotional issues in the country and exploits the hell out of them. I think I've taken the turn from a slow burn to an intense anger.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Can't Stand It

My daily weekday routine includes waking up around 5:30 and relaxing on the couch in front of the news with a fresh cup of coffee. Watching the morning news usually is enough to spur me onward and out the door on time. On this day, five years after the terrorist attack on September 11th, I found I couldn't stomach the news. The overly dramatized tributes with the alarming amount of political messages was enough to make me flip to my second morning haven-Classroom on the History Channel.

On Classroom, I found a segment about the first six American presidents, which I found far more patriotic than any of the cheapened September 11th stuff. The struggles and pains they went to for our country far outweighed anything we go through today. I remembered where our country came from, and why we all should continue to love it so dearly.

Instead of telling us how we need to defend America, on September 11th show us reasons why to love it. The greatest thing on that day was that we were all reminded how much we care about our country. We don't need images of eagles accompanied by music with emotional crescendos. Instead, we should explore the history and roots of our country, and realize why it is worth living here. Do not turn this day into a reason for politicians to further their political agenda or have sacchrine and meaningless tributes. Turn it into a day which reminds us all why we are here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The 9/11 Theme Store

I've been reading a lot about the controversy over the ABC movie depicting the "events" that led to 9/11 and I find them disheartening for many reasons. First, it seems to me that the events leading up to 9/11 were so dramatic that you don't need to make shit up. But for some reason the screenwriters felt they had to inject their own story in there to make the story more exciting and therefore completely devalue their film. The controversy swirling around the film currently is so great that there is no possibility it will have an emotional impact, except to make people angry towards ABC.

This whole thing reeks of a political ploy, and using 9/11 as a political device continues to enrage me. When the first two 9/11 movies came out, they were hailed as being incredibly non-political and accurate depictions. I agree with free speech, and the premise that everyone has a right to their opinion. But it's a little fishy to me that on the three months before a possible takeover of the senate by Democrats, a miniseries is coming out that is heavy political and suggests it could have been Clinton's fault.

Let's get one thing was the people's fault who flew the planes. Neither Bush nor Clinton planned or executed the attacks. We need to stop pointing fingers and use the day of 9/11 to remember the people who lost our lives and renew our commitment to America. There's nothing political about it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Passion (Teaching Again )

Last night I had my first class on James Joyce. There were a lot of mixed thoughts going into the class, namely a massive amount of fear about the coursework. I was hoping (desperately) that the professor was going to look at Finnegan's Wake out of pure curiosity. Then I received the syllabus and nearly had a myocardial infarction.

Sorry... I nearly had a FUCKING HEART ATTACK.

Which is to say that the professor assigned one Joyce book a week plus supplementary reading and lots of writing. He had no bones about the fact that the course was going to be tough. It was a tough syllabus and I was ready to flee with mad rants about how some professors don't get students.

That's when the professor began speaking about Joyce. I once again learned a valuable lesson about teaching from a professor at Trinity. He spoke so genuinely, and with an honest fervor for the subject matter, that I was instantly drawn in. I liked this guy, and I realized no amount of work would keep me out of his class.

The lesson, I suppose, is that energy and passion can make all the difference in education. A student is not motivated by the course material alone. It's mainly about the commitment of the teacher.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thank God

The Hammer is still striking for those mighty causes.

Stop It!

Dear Rachael Ray,

Stop the madness. Seriously, we like you for who you are. But it's maddening to watch your show and hear you shout your "cute" little catchphrases. They aren't cute, or funny, or endearing, they are the most vile sounds in the English language.

If I have to hear you say "yummo" one more time, I may find myself inadvertently throwing my own 30 minute meal at the TV.

Speaking of which, you need to figure out that there are other modalities of speech. Your version of yelling, which makes me want to drive my fingernails into my wrist, is simply ridiculous. You have a mic, on your shirt-use it.

My advice to you is that you should be yourself and not try and put on these homey airs that come off as disingenuous. For a good example, look at Alton Brown. He acts zany, silly and funny, but he always appears like he cares about what he is doing. I imagine if I met Alton Brown, he would largely be the same person I see on camera. That is not the same for you.

Spend some time off, take a sabbatical and find out who you truly are. Only then can you truly cook your 30 minute meals to perfection.

Best Regards,


P.S. Your Mahi-Mahi taco recipe was delicious.

Monday, September 04, 2006

My New Class and the Old Ones

I recently read about my new class on Joyce at Trinity. The list of Joyce books was monstrous, and led me to believe that the professor was either a) insane or b) a great practical joker. The reason I am positive of one of these two things is:

He included Finnegan's Wake on the syllabus, hereby known to me as Finnegan's What the Fuck. This bloviated manuscript is nearly unreadable in any language. As far as I can tell most literary people believe Joyce had either gone insane at this point in his life, or he found it extremely funny to release completely nonsensical drafts to the literary world. His brother is on record saying he was mad when he wrote it. I recently read the first page which includes such literary gems as:

"The fall (bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonner-
ronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthur-nuk!) of a once wallstrait oldparr is retaled early in bed and later on life down through all christian minstrelsy."

"Sir Tristram, violer d'amores, fr'over the short sea, had passen-core rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderfight his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from afire bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick"

Once again, I will repeat... WHAT THE FUCK?

In other class news, I have yet to complete my spring class, which ended with a paper none of us were really sure how to write. The lack of specificity, or even a cohesive assignment is maddening. So, for now, I sit with a harsh I on my transcript. I'm stalled out on page 9 of a suggested 20 page paper. I'm thinking I might hit page 15 and turn it in as is. Oh the life of a graduate student.


"We believe that al-Qaida in Iraq suffers from a serious leadership crisis. Our troops have dealt fatal and painful blows to this organization."

Here's the problem- political rhetoric has become so hyperbolic that nobody is sure what to believe. It's dishreatening when our leaders are so disingenous that we, as a public, are paralyzed with indifference. How many times over the past three years has the number two leader in Iraq been captured or killed. Every time they announce that the war is in it's final act or the insurgency is in its "death throes". Nothing changes.

We've been promised massive changes, but in actuality all we get is new ways of speaking about the same old things. Orwell would have been so proud to see the way in which the government changes the ways history views the War on Iraq in order to suit their political needs. 1984 indeed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I grew up devouring fantasy novels. They formed the foundation of my literary interests. Reading Roger Zelazny's Amber series was a revelation to me. I've been interested in literature ever since.

Except, over the past few years I have found very little in fantasy that appealed to me. Fantasy has been overtaken by bloated, commercialized, soap opera fantasy. These huge tomes have nothing for me.

Initially, I was interested in fantasy series that had huge amounts of sequels. But I started realizing that even though the authors would occasionally forward the plots, they were largely writing the same books with new covers and changed names. I grew weary of getting up to book four of a series only to realize that the author was just milking the series success and had no intention of a justifiable end.

Which is why it is such a pleasure to have found Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. I had heard of it many times, the first from Orson Scott Card, who raved about the book when he first read, but I kept my fantasy prejudices away from it. I finally took the plunge and bought it. Rather than intermittently reading a chapter, I smashed my way through it, enjoying every moment.

What's so great about the book is that it entirely fails to ascribe to fantasy convention. The novel has three separate protagonists, each with their own rich story. None of the main characters are from a mysterious lineage nor do they have dead parents who they never knew. Each is dense and vibrant in his or her own way.

The plot is also terrific. Magic in this land has virtually disappeared, those who relied on it reduced to zombie leper-like creatures called the Elantrians. Once Elantris was a rich city built on magic. But something terrible happened and the city crumbled. Nobody is quite certain where the magic has gone, but those who lived in the city are too weak and in pain to find an answer. One of the main threads in the novel is a quest to find the answer and save the city.

But that's just skimming a very dense surface. The novel has a great amount of political intrigue, action, and mystery. But the best part of the novel is that it has...

Wait for it...


Yes, this particular fantasy manages to wrap itself up in 600 pages. The author creates a complex fantasy world with dense history and manages to tell one single story in it. The ending is satisfying and rational, which so many fantasy books completely lack. The author leaves a couple of threads open for a possible sequel, but the reader gets the idea that the protagonists story is finished.

Pick it up, but be careful because you might not want to put it down.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

This Just In...

Ned Lamont is a witch! Do not support this man, he will end up screwing us all over with his witchy spells designed to help terrorists. If Ned Lamont had his way, we would all be deported to Afghanistan where we would support opium farmers. He only cares about his Al-Qaeda buddies, who are personally funding his election campaign. I've also heard he is planning on introducing legislation to burn babies for an alternative fuel source. This man is evil-do not listen to anything he says. He is best friends with Mel Gibson, whose drunken rant was a political ploy to take Lieberman down. Don't believe the hype.

This message was not approved by Joe Lieberman, but evidently neither is any of the messages being said about the communist, hippie, terrorist supporting Lamont. All hail the new boss, same as the old. Literally.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Teaching Means to Me

I'm a teacher. It took me awhile to figure out what that actually means. Oddly enough, the best way I have ever learned to be a teacher is by looking at the way in which others teach me. I gain enthusiasm by seeing a person who is really good at their job, but I also gain understanding about how others lack the fire that comes with teaching. Good teachers and bad teachers help me grow into the teacher I want to be.

I've learned by noticing the ways I react to others teaching me. It's hard because I hate judging people- I prefer to think that everyone has the capacity to be good. Thomas Paine once said that we all have the ability to be unselfish and worthy contributors to society. We just need to let go of all our trivial notions and preconceptions.

Back to teaching though. This meditation comes because I realize the greatest impetus for me to learn is to have an understanding and caring teacher. I write papers and do well in a class because I like the person who is teaching it. Previously I used to believe that the subject matter was what mattered and my personality was secondary. I was wrong.

I'm thinking about all of this because I'm taking a class that I'm struggling in. It's not that I'm doing poorly in it, in fact I find myself doing quite well. But when I sit down to work, there's no joy in it. Instead it's just plain work, and nothing more emotional than that.

The professor seems like a great guy. I get the idea that he's a smart, energetic and nice person. But I've only gotten that from inferring it. He has never let us know a single thing about him unless it relates to the work. Instead he walks into the class and launches into the material without any conversation. I begin getting a headache almost immediately.

Furthermore, he doesn't seem to want to know about the scant few (down to 4) in the class. I've tried visiting him in his office, where he seems to want to get rid of me as quickly as possible. I want to know him as an educator, but he doesn't seem to have the time. He never even took the time to ask us our names or exhibit a class camaraderie.

The last class I took that I really loved was Colin's class on blogging. It was magic. Upon reflection, I realize that it had nothing to do with all of us being smart (although we were). It had to do with the immense personal relationships we established. I looked forward to being in class every week to see the people there. Everyone cared about the class and put their energy into it.

We all want to feel loved. In that class I was made to feel wanted, and genuinely appreciated. My comments and bizarre digressions were cared about and validated. The rest of the education happened in that safe and warm environment. We learned from each other, Colin pulling back and becoming part of the class.

I guess I'm wondering what I need to do to prepare for the start of school in two weeks. Usually I voraciously line up serious lessons, but I think I might take a different tact this year. At the end of last year I sat down on the floor with my kids and took the time to really talk to them. I think I might sit down and spend the time to know them the entire year. That's what will make teaching mean the most to me. The material will always be the same, but the kids will never be.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Friends (Again)

My Uncle Peter is sitting in the wicker chair across from me. He smiles up at me, a smile that drips with a long, heavy melancholy. His friend Tony has poured me a shot of expensive tequila and ordered a toast to good friends. We drink the smooth liquor down and I immediately cool off. Uncle Peter's phone rings.

He picks it up and has a short conversation before hanging up. His eyes have become watery. I ask him what's wrong before I realize it's a stupid question. He tells me he keeps expecting Larry's call. Apparently he doesn't have the heart to remove Larry from him phone.

Larry died last Wednesday. He was Uncle Peter's best friend for the last fifty years. He says they met sometime in the first grade and have spoken on the phone every day since. Uncle Peter visibly cringes whenever the phone rings, a stiff reminder that his friend is dead. I nearly lose it.

My brother Mark and I spent some serious time on the beach that day. After hearing that Uncle Peter's best friend died, we decided to join him on Fire Island. Mark and I were together most of that day, reminding me what it was like to be close to my brother. It was nice.

In a sense, I think Uncle Peter is lucky. He's lost his best friend, but his amazing affability and joviality has allowed him to accrue a lot of friends. The house he shares with five other people is packed with incredibly fun personalities who love to have a good time. Uncle Peter says it's been his best season on Fire Island ever. As we are sitting around the table, his friend Sanford has called three times. He misses Peter.

I'm reminded sometime during the day that life isn't about the things we manage to compile or the material things. It's about the relationships we form throughout our lives and how much they matter. I think if there was a scale to judge success based only on that, Uncle Peter is the most successful person I know. He is truly loved.

Back With A Vengeance

I guess I'm back. Which is to say that I took some time off to refuel my writing schtick. Don't feel too bad, I took some time off in general from almost everything. It's been a good, long summer.

I also hated the idea of getting caught up in the CT blogging crowd. I have some views when it comes to the Lamont/Lieberman debacle. But I really don't feel like it's my job to further or detract from either campaign.

So what am I here for? Well, there's going to be some changes around from my blogging temperament. For one thing, I need to stop writing constantly. I feel like I've spread myself out too thinly and lost a lot of creativity out of my need to constantly blog. So I'm going to start out writing some better pieces that are actually structured and make sense. But I'm probably going to do it less often.

See you soon.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Sigourney Street

I had no idea where Sigourney street derived its name until I began my new class on "Literary Losers" (actual title). Apparently Sigourney street is named after the famous Hartford poet Lydia Sigourney, who was equal to Poe and Hawthorne in her day. In honor of my class (and because I'm a total suckup) I have compiled some of her poems in a handy format. Check them out (Adobe Reader Required)

My thought on her is that there's a reason why she didn't become part of the canon. Her poems proselytize far too much. Check out "The Jews" to see what I mean.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Irony Is...

Okay, so I actually think the Bush swearing incident actually makes him more endearing to me. Except, I'm not exactly sure the poor guy really knows how the definition of ironic. As if it's ironic that the UN just hasn't bothered to talk to Syria about it. His jabbering (not the swear) doesn't make him sound like a world leader, but a guy who's just shooting the shit with a neighbor and doesn't really understand the complexities of the situation. You know what would be great? If the UN asked the people in the Middle East to just stop fighting. It's ironic that they haven't.

I also think this conversation between Blair and Bush is perfect...

Chirp, Chirp

I hate the total lack of cell phone etiquette that seems to have pervaded our world. Less than five years ago, many of us were complaining that people talked on their cell phones in public places. Many would loudly converse about all sorts of private things on their phones.

This behavior seems completely normal in comparison with the grating "chirp" feature that has invaded cell phone technology. Now, instead of just hearing one half of the conversation, we are privvy to both parts with an obnoxious, nail grinding sound preceding it. Often these conversations aren't "quick, it's an emergency" but rude and inappropriate words and phrases that I cringe at when I see children around. For some reason, the users of "chirp" also feel the need to turn up the volume of their headsets as loudly as possible.

This menace must be stopped. People no longer appreciate the concept of silence. Instead, even in settings that lend themselves to solutide and meditation, people feel the need to use chirp and bother others who are just trying to get some peace. If anything, cell phones have shown us how we don't really need to respect those around us.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Medical Machine

Can there be any person that is braver than this teenager? He's gone through chemo once, dealt with the weakness and terrible pain it's caused, and decided that when the cancer came back he didn't want it again. Instead he wanted to go through the alternative medicine route, and if he died then he was ready for that. What an enlightened way to look at things.

Except, the government has chosen that even though his parents support his decision, he doesn't have the right to say what to do with his body. Many of us have had the opportunity to watch a loved on go through chemotherapy. There are many out there who know first hand just how painful and debilitating it is. This young man has the courage to stand up and say he doesn't want to do it again. Why can't the authorities respect his decision?

Instead they threaten to throw him into a Juvenile Detention Center. Is this not ridiculous? The kid is dying, spending what could possibly be his last few years alive and theywant to lock him up. That would truly make his wish come true.

The truth here is that the medical industry is a thriving behemoth that can't exist if people start refusing medical treatments. This issue brings up a major point-that the medical foundations in our country are now simply political organizations. They exist to protect their own assets anmd continue to sell us on medicines we don't necessarily need. It's all about the money in the medical industry today, and we are suffering the consequences. Denying a dying boy his own rights in order to prove a point and set an example is the lowest thing they could possibly do. Yet it appears they are doing just that.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Ninja Review!

Here's a more eloquent review of POTC. Damn, ninjas are super smart.

Disappointing Pirates

I vividly remember the first fun scene of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Jack Sparrow was striking a hero pose, as his ship was quickly sinking. He ends up sinking the ship next to the dock and walks on land unscathed. It's a moment of pure fun and joy. The rest of the movie fit that mold entirely. It felt like the filmmakers were just trying to have some silly fun.

The sequel starts off ominously, with a heartbeat on a cold, stormy night. The bright blue seas of the Caribbean that dominated the first one are barely visible. Instead, Pirates is packed full of lengthy exposition, ridiculous action scenes and comic relief that feels so forced it's embarassing. In the first movie there was a cool sword fight between Jack and Will on top of rafters. They swung from ropes and fought hard in a cool and organic way. In this movie there's a bloated fight scene between three people in which they fight on top of an enormous water wheel. The wheel spins and eventually comes off it's mooring and goes out of control. I get what they were going for with the over the top action, but in this case it just comes off as too ridiculous. In the first movie there is clever and funny dialogue. In the second one, Elizabeth throws a stupid fit because Jack and Will are fighting again. She stomps, kicks sand around and acts irritated. My thought is that someone was accidentally filming Keira Knightley during this scene and it got edited in. It sucks all the energy out of the swordfight while simultaneously being annoying and not funny.

I was really looking forward to the fact that they were filming two Pirates movies back to back. But when you film two movies at once, there is no opportunity to analyze the preceding movie and figure out what flaws it had. So now I'm not so sure Pirates 3 will even be worth seeing.

Of course, the movie might be worth seeing merely based on ILM's unbelievable CGI work. It is by far the best CGI characters that have ever been created.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Professor Rockstar II

I love the snoozefest that is Beyond the Headlines when Colin is put on the panel. The awkward tension between Colin and Shelly is worth it on its own. My favorite part was when Shelly chastised Colin, saying (for like the fifth time) that it was her show. Colin's response:
"Well that's kind of a drawback, don't you think?"

Now that's good television.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sometimes A Movie Just Clicks

I need to make an embarrassing confession-I loved Adam Sandler's new film. I walked into the movie expecting the same juvenile comedy Adam Sandler has always given us, just with a new gimmick. I got exactly what I wanted.

But I also got so much more. About an hour and a half into the movie I found myself overcome with emotion in a way that few films capture these days. It was raw, real and incredibly unexpected. Is Click a new classic, or even all that well put together? Not really. There are tons of missed beats and awkward moments. However, the lessons that it teaches, and the moments where I was absolutely caught up, were entirely worth it. It's better than most summer nonsense.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I Need to See Dr. Katz

because I missed him so...Seriously, Dr. Katz was by far the greatest series Comedy Central ever produced. It was great improv comedy with a twist of the awkward moments that have become so prevalent in comedy today.

Comedy Central should take note of their roots, rather than continually focusing on the overly political and purposely offensive comedy. Dr. Katz's strength came from the fact that it remained relatively clean and inoffensive. Please produce more of it.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Here's the thing about how I know a piece of writing is going well for me. It's when things happen that I have no plans for. Characters take on their own traits as I'm writing, seemingly writing themselves. The plot has become organic and my outlines arde beginning to evaporate. I'm really enjoying finding out who the characters are and what the story is.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Ignorance is Bliss?

This is by far the best example of a United States senator's total lack of knowledge and how an ignorant person can ramble on about something they don't really know.

From Senator Ted Stevens(R) Alaska:

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let’s talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren’t using it for commercial purposes.

We aren’t earning anything by going on that internet. Now I’m not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people […]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says “No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet”. No, I’m not finished. I want people to understand my position, I’m not going to take a lot of time. [?]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.

It’s a series of tubes.

And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can’t afford getting delayed by other people.

Plus, it is by far the funniest description of the internet that I have ever heard. Is this really how dumb the leadership of our country is?

Thanks Cory

Rowland Comeback Tour 2006

How does a man repent for his sins? Well, if you're John Rowland, you apparently take the whole "falling off was the best thing that happened to me." Yes, learning from your mistakes is always a good thing. But this line of defense suggests that Rowland was completely unaware that he only realized it when he was caught doing it.


Morally, this is a tough issue for me. We can be sorry for our actions and deeply be hurt by them but that does not change the fact that we performed them. A killer does not become any better because he is sorry for what he did. Rowland took the massive amount of trust we gave him and abused it massively. That kind of trust can never be earned back.

Does this not reek of an extremely disingenuous marketing ploy? Rowland repents, says he has learned his lesson a few hundred times and then releases a book on how to become a better person through a higher power. I feel a miniseries in the works.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Cooler than Star Trek?

Not quite, but you still need to check it out if only for the amazing camp value.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Speaking of Superman...

This is one of the greatest graphic novels I have ever read. It deals with issues that most superhero tracts fail to do. How does a superhero deal with his powers when he discovers them as a boy? How does he live his life in a normal way?

It's really a book about life and the way we choose to live it. The emotion and feeling comes from the main character's constant meditation on life and the choices he makes. The great triumph is his growing old and having to deal with being an aged superhero. If this doesn't lend credence to the idea that graphic novels are literature, I don't know what will.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Return...

There's something fantastic about being the first one on your block to see a new movie. If it's good, you get to share your enthusiasm and tell all your friends about it. If it's bad, you are the one who averted disaster and made sure to let everyone kno just how bad it was. Either way, you get to see the movie with fresh eyes, which is always cool.

Last night I had a great desire to see a movie. I initially was thinking Click when I loaded up the showtimes. But then I saw the movie I had been waiting for. Superman Returns-10:00. I gleefully went off to see if it would be what the trailers made it seem.

I knew I made the right choice the second John Williams score came blasting through the sound system. The original credits, with the cool green flying text, came at me and I was in heaven. I sincerely doubt that Williams has written a better score than the Superman theme. It is all encompassing and gets your heart pumping.

It's not perfect. In fact there are some minor hiccups. The fact that both Superman and Clark Kent return after five years away and nobody seems to put the pieces together is an issue. Nobody even thought "Hey Clark's back, oh so is Superman. Weird huh?"

Brandon Routh is Superman. I had my issues with him looking so close to Christopher Reeves, but he really does encompass the role. I was so pleased that as Clark Kent he was not a bumbling klutz, but a genuine down to earth guy. I loved Christopher Reeves Superman, but his bumbling Clark Kent always struck me as over the top.

Superman Returns is worth a viewing on the big screen if only for the immense visuals. But check it out as a good, story driven movie as well. I think you'll be pleased.

Now I have to wait another year for this.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

We Love the Cristal

Dear Jay-Z,
I hereby extend an offer to tutor you over the summer in reading comprehension. I have some extra time, and I realize you might have some comprehension issues. Why not come by and together we can work on your skills- reading comprehension skills.

For it seems to me that your boycott of Cristal has nothing to do with racism. In actuality it has to do with your poor reading skills. I would rather not have that sort of misunderstanding happen again, so I'm here to help you.

You see Jay-Z, what you missed in the article is that the director of the company that makes Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud, never actually says anything negative about the hip hop community. In fact, he views Cristal's association with rap with "curiosity and serenity." Please note how neither of those words were bad.

Indeed, the one racist comment that you chose to pick out of the article was written by the author. Part of what I can teach you is that just because words appear near a person's name, that does not mean they said them. Yes, the words "unwelcome attention" appeared near Frederic Rouzaud's quotation, but they were written by the author. Your boycott should really be against The Economist and not so much with Cristal.

Furthermore, I can help you construct a heartfelt and sincere apology letter to Cristal.

Another thing, at no point does the article mention race. All it talks about is the hip-hop community. You are undermining your own community and acting racist yourself by suggesting that the hip-hop community can be boiled down to race. Dude, stop it.

Please consider my generous offer and drop by for some lessons. I promise, you wont regret the lifetime skills you will gain from it.

Best Wishes,
Brett Evans

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ideological Differences

I used to cheer for Joe Lieberman. I remember one particular morning where my mother called me with news that Lieberman had been picked as Gore's vp candidate. I was sleeping and lept out of bed, confident that Joe could go far.

It's been six years, and everything Joe has done in the interim has been a severe dissapointment to me. He has not done his job and reflected the sentiments of the people of Connecticut. Instead, he's sneakily attempted to endear himself to the administration by sticking by their policies. You can't have it both ways.

So this morning I hear an ad campaign for Ned Lamont. I don't really know much about Lamont, and have been on the fence about voting for him. But the ad campaign flipped me over the fence. It was the sincere and honest way in which Ned said he would support Lieberman if he won the primary. In the face of a bratty child who is claiming to run as an independent if he loses, that's pretty cool. Lamont has some amazing integrity.

Plus, given the fact that Lieberman is using this nasty attack ad I can't seem to find anything worthwhile in the man anymore.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I've always initially hated the premise of most Pizar movies. My first reaction has always been the "that just doesn't sound like a good idea" followed by my determination to not see the film. Yet, as time goes by, Pixar releases trailers that become progressively more interesting. So I always go off to see them and end up enjoying the films immensely.

So it was with Cars, which felt like a Pixar hiccup to me. After all, how could Pixar possibly make a world inhabited merely by Cars feel realistic? For the true magic of Pixar is how they manage to make a totally fantastical and off the wall world and ground it in reality. I just wasn't sure I would leap for Cars the same way that I have for Toy Story, Finding Nemo, etc.

But they pulled it off in a dramatic and believable way. I bought every bit of the world of Cars. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. It truly is great.

On an unrelated note, I am holding a rally for Lewis the Cat outside of Petsmart in Manchester at 3:30 today. The Queen of all Cats will be speaking about the rights of cats. Okay, not really, but wouldn't that be fun?

So Wrong...

Yet so right.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Summer Diggin'

The summer has started for me. I've been preparing for this for several weeks. Unfortunately, one of the concessions I made to prepare for the summer was to go on a brief hiatus from blogging. My creative attentions needed to be focused other places.

Not to worry, I'm back.

In order to prepare myself for the vast amount of free time in front of me, I have done several things. The first was to purchase a wireless router, which will allow me to blog with my laptop. There have already been several mornings where I woke up and dragged my laptop off the floor. Writing has been slow, but productive.

The second was to purchase a significantly better coffee maker. My first one was a bachelor special, the kind that barely makes the equivalent of a grande cup of Starbucks coffee. Instead I purchased a Hamilton Beach Brewstation. This wonderful gift to myself is an absolute wonder of coffee engineering that actually makes the amount of coffee it claims to. The best thing yet about the maker is that it holds the coffee inside the machine and pours it on demand. No more messy coffee urn. I'm planning many luxurious mornings where I wake up and casually sip coffee while writing.

Of course, this new device has allowed me to experiment with several coffee drinks. This morning I shut the machine off, let the coffee inside cool, and poured it into a thermos bottle. I then added Yoohoo and refrigerated the drink for a cool, refreshing summer beverage.

Isn't free time wonderful?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's Not About the Gay

If I were a special interest group, I'd be pissed right now. The GOP wants me every couple of years to fire up their base during election year and then tucks me away again. Totally dishonest.

But then, I suppose this whole gay marriage issue is ridiculous in its own right. We, as a society, should be attempting to further ourselves intellectually, culturally and socially. We have many issues to face in our country, including energy problems, health care and poverty. Why is congress working to amend our constitution to deny people their basic rights?

In a way, I'm actually glad President Bush is heating up the gay marriage issue. He believes his base will fall in line and follow along. But as he continues playing smoke and mirror politics, those loyal constituents will begin realizing just how ridiculous this issue is. His supporters will realize that gay marriage is a private matter, and has nothing to do with their own lives.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Sorry for the Scarcity

But I've been working on several projects that I've left hanging. The good news is that creatively, I feel rejuvenated. My new projects include:

An experimental piece that comprises fictional student essays of an imagined novel I have written. These essays will span the straightforward five paragraph high school essay to the convoluted and overly analytical graduate paper. I'm still working on the premise of the imagined novel.

A YA novel where the main character is an adolescent boy whose father is a test pilot for Earth's new translight ships. He lives on the space station with his father, where he attends school with the other children of the space fleet. Normal adolescent craziness ensues-mixed with the dangers of spaceflight.

A couple of dangling short stories, most of which aren't developed enough to discuss.

Please forgive me for my lack of blogging.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Drives Me Nuts...

I think Stop and Shop should make people take a test before allowing them to use the self-checkout. Honestly, people approach these things and it's like their brain just shuts off. Yesterday I watched as the person in front of me stood dumbfounded, absolutely unable to to work the machine. That's why there are normal checkouts.

But then again, I think the machines are more of a hassle anyways. They waste more time than they save. People throw their entire cart and a half of groceries onto them and take at least three times as long organizing and bagging the items. I've often wished the self checkouts were express only and used for those of us with two or three things in our hands who want to run in and out quickly. Those of you doing your weeks shopping will end up saving time and anxiety by allowing someone else to ring your order up for you.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

You Mean Jumping?

I have to say, I love the ingenuity of this invention. It really highlights the something from nothing society that we have. I can't way to see the late night informercials advertising it as the newest fitness sensation.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pulp Week

I really dug Slate's Pulp Fiction week. It's always nice to see a site recommending books. Of course I think my favorite thus far has been their new pulp covers for old classics. If only they could convince publishers to put out these covers, the books would certainly garner new interest.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back into Religion...

I've never been much all that interested in religion since my Bar Mitzvah. I've read from the Toarh, studied it, and thought I understood it. There was no need to look at it again.

Except my interest in the Torah has been renewed thanks to the Blogging the Bible project by David Plotz. Aside from the fascinating stories that I've missed in the bible, I really enjoy Plotz' concise language and tone. He is never overly critical, but posits questions from his readings. Rather than attempt to attach meaning to stories, Plotz asks meaningful questions, seeking answers in a scholarly way. Go check it out and see what you think.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

House Memory

I know I usually don't go this far, but last night's episode of House was by far the best dramatic television I've seen in a long time. The episode would have been good without an interesting premise, but the producers chose to wallop us over the head with a nice (albeit obvious) surprise at the end.

Big ol' Spoiler ahead.

Revealing at the end that the whole episode is a House hallucination makes the episode akin to a Tennesee Williams' play. Everything needs to be reviewed because it's all coming from House's psyche and his feelings. So rather than the events being actual, they are emotions in House's mind. I nearly lost it when House apologized to the shooter, wherein he is essentially realizing in his mind that his attitude has been wrong all along. That's truly spiritual healing coming from the self.

Hopefully they wont take it quite that far next season though...

Monday, May 22, 2006

In Case You Were Wondering...

I woke up this morning feeling relatively normal for the first time in about a week. This means that I didn't aimlessly walk around my apartment coughing on my cats. I actually showered and prepared for work. So I'm tentatively saying I'm back, although I'm still a bit off center.

It's been a bizarre week for me. I spent most of it locked away, trying to pretend like I wasn't actually sick. It didn't help that one doctor told me that it was mainly my allergies bothering me. For a little while I kept telling myself to suck it up and deal with it. The morning I woke up dizzy and completely disoriented, I knew something else was up. So I saw another doctor who was alarmed at my first diagnosis. He told me that I had severe asthmatic bronchitis, wrote me a note and told me to go home and crash. He also put me on an inhaler, which makes me feel instantly better. It feels like warm drizzle running down my lungs.

Yesterday afternoon there was a crazy thunderstorm followed by momentous sun that came pouring out from the black sky. It was, perhaps, the most radiant sunlight I had ever seen. That's kind of where I am right now, in that place of contrast where I still remember the thunder and heavy sky, but am staring up at the rays.

So how are you?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

My Strange Cold

Yes, I've been sick, which has kept me from writing much lately. Initially I thought I had a sinus infection, but my doctor told me that I probably was just suffering from my allergies. He listened to my chest and confidently sent me off with a nasal spray.

There's a reason why I try not to waste money on doctors.

The bad news is that I almost certainly have something other than allergy issues. I know the difference. The good news is that this morning my fever broke and my cough has been good. This morning it cleaned the apartment, fed the cats and took out the trash. What a productive cough I have.

I also love the way in which cold medication has the tendency to give me some of the strangest dreams imaginable. Last night I had a dream that I was best buds with Ann Coulter. We settled our differences and took a new bipartisan agenda across the country. I was even telling other people how nice she was.

I can only imagine that was the Guaifenesin talking.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'm Beginning to Feel Like Zeena Frome

Today I came down with a rather bad sinus infection, which has me sheltered at home watching the rain splash against the windows with my cats. This has been a week of a series of health setbacks for me. Yes, I have always dealt with my health issues in my own way. Recently my psoriasis finally seemed to be under control and I had found a combination of creams that generally work. The unfortunate things is that other weird things were happening to my body. I was getting intense stomach aches, my head hurt a lot and my sinuses seemed worse than ever.

So last week I checked out the creams I was taking. I searched online, found the most prevalent, and nearly recoiled in surprise. The cream I had been putting on my hands and probably injesting by accident caused most of these issues. My health issues could be traced back to when I began taking the cream.

I suppose I should be angry at my dermatologist, but really I'm just relieved to know that my problems can easily be fixed. All I need to do is stop taking the cream. Unfortunately that means my psoriasis will come back in full force, which I can handle. It's all just an amazing balancing act.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Could these people be any cooler? What I really like is the way that they bring interesting events to the normal routine of a city. Nothing ever seems malicious, just good fun and lots of laughs.

My favorites are the cell-phone symphony and the taxi ride of love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Space Race

I'm almost positive Wile E. Coyote tried this. It didn't work all that well for him.

Singing in the Webcam

Initially I felt bad for this guy, until I noticed the guy uploaded the video himself:

But then I remembered something Dee once told me. He said our culture doesn't sing together often enough. His hypothesis was that mutual singing brings us together as a society, and I agree with him entirely. So maybe Shane is just reaching out to all of us with his "open arms."

Also, the idea that this could totally have been me makes me incredibly thankful that I don't own a webcam.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I was so set to hate Coke Blak. It sounded to me like Coca-Cola had just run out of good ideas and decided to throw some coffee into their product. I love coke, I love coffee and I could only imagine what merging the two would be like. When it was handed to me today, I smelled it with extreme trepidation. Despite my best attempts at distaste, the thing smelled like maple syrup. The inviting aroma forced me to take a sip, and I thought of drinking a nice glass of coffee with maple syrup and caramel.

Damn, it is way too good.

Monday, May 08, 2006

News, News, News

As I have expressed before, I despise TV news. Most American news is designed for sensationalist purposes that leave much to actual news. One local news channel was doing a report on the best mp3 downloads for cell phones and promoting the segment as if it was some genius thing. Other news programs set up stings to catch MySpace stalkers, which leads me to wonder when news programs began actually creating news rather than reporting it.

I also despise how the news constantly makes me feel worse about the world. Every single bit of the news is designed to inform just how screwed up and dangerous society really is. I am not thrilled in seeing the seedy underbelly of our culture.

Which is why I used to really adore CBS Sunday Morning. Everything about it highlighted what was wonderful about the world. They used to do inspiring portraits of artists, highlights of cool things that were happening in the world, and segments that would make me laugh. What a great idea, news that was uplifting and started off a Sunday morning in a positive way. Especially considering the amount of "politicians screaming at each other" shows on afterwards.

But recently, CBS Sunday Morning has veered drastically towards the format of other news magazines. They still have the artsy segments, but intermingled are stories such as how your doctor misdiagnosing you may be fatal. The segment several weeks ago on Opus Dei* was so ridiculous (as well as being bad journalism) that it skewed my opinion of Sunday Morning. They used to find unique news. Now they report on the upcoming buzz of the summer box office.

Every other news magazine sticks to stories designed as gossip or ways to frighten the viewer. Sunday Morning should do what it's done best and educate the viewer while making them feel good. That is a combination that truly works.

*Has anyone bothered to tell these news magazines that are doing studies of "the truth behind The DaVinci Code that the book is FICTION? I mean, telling Dan Brown that he got things wrong in his FICTIONAL book is like telling Dr. Seuss that Whoville isn't really as great as he portrayed it to be.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Delicious Unfortunate Names

What is with ice cream companies keeping things creepy names? First, Dairy Queen comes out with the MooLatte, which is still on the market. It is a mix of hazelnut coffee and soft-serve ice cream, which evokes a terrible racial stereotype, especially considering its physical similarity to the word.

Then there was the Ben and Jerry's Black and Tan, which provoked some ire. Ben and Jerry's gets a pass because they decided that it was best to pull this product off the market. They also make some of the bes ice cream out there.

I almost choked on my coffee this morning when reading about Wendy's new name for their Frosties. Frosty is a fine name, which provides imagery of cooling off on a hot summer day. But the name Soquid (which is a mix of solid and liquid) is really head scratching. It's actually downright weird and kind of gross. I love calamari, and eat it with great zeal, but I do not wish to be reminded of it when eating ice cream. Thank you Wendy's, but I'd rather not eat this product with a "fpoon."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Apples to Oil

I love how Ann Coulter gives me fuel for my blogging. Honestly, could this comparison be any more ridiculous? Ann attempts to suggest that we should really be analyzing the rising costs of college tuition instead of gas prices. I don't want to say her argument is stupid, but...okay I really just want to say her argument is stupid. Here's why:

Ann seems to be making the argument that college is a bastion of liberal thought headed by the outspoken Ward Churchill. Apparently American children are being "taught that America is the worst country on Earth and that the American bond traders who were murdered on 9/11 deserved it." This argument is an interesting rhetorical syllogism which follows ignorant logic. Here's how to map it:

A. All college professors think alike.
B. Ward Churchill is a college professor.
C. All college professors think just like Ward Churchill.

If we all used logic in this manner, our country would indeed be the worst in the world. Thankfully, college is a diverse, unique and overly pluralistic environment. On any given college campus a student can find many different viewpoints and learn different things.

By saying that all college professors deliver the same product, Ann is trying to suggest that its just like gas. You get one mediocre product that you need. But in college I had many different opportunities for learning. Last time I went to the pump, I had three options. I went with the cheapest one.

Her comparison that college tuition mirrors gas prices is all too wrong. The difference is, as I drive down the road, I don't see a lot of change in price between gas stations. However, college tuition is wildly different from school to school. The state schools (those Ann is moaning about being subsidized by the government to spread liberal thought) average roughly 12,000 dollars a year for on-campus students and 5000 dollars a year for off-campus students. However, private schools average 27,000 dollars for on-campus students and 22,000 for off-campus students. I can't quite tell if Shell or Mobil will cost me 15,000 dollars less per year.

My favorite comparison, and one which she make my college professor friends smile, is when she compares college professors to oil executives. I almost lost it when I read"How about investigating the "shameful display of greed" by college professors?" Those damn academics and their slothful ways. How dare they attempt to give themselves a decent standard of living.

Truthfully, college professors make, on average, roughly 80,000 dollars a year. This number may seem high, and it is far above the average salary in the United States. But college professors almost always have doctorates and if you look at the average salary of a person who has taken the time and money to get their doctorate, professors' pay is relatively low. Oil executives make roughly 30 million dollars per year in bonuses and stock options. Is greed in college professors really the issue here?

I can't express how thankful I am that as time progresses, Ms. Coulter's arguments become stranger and more nonsensical. She really is proving to be quite unhinged and ridiculous, which is good for me. It gives me lots to write about.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I've never been much of a fan of Superman. Yes, I realize he is supposed to be the great American hero, but he seems too invincible to me. The reason why I love Batman is that he's vulnerable, makes mistakes and has deep issues about being a superhero. I never saw that with Superman (barring several good moments in the second movie). So I wasn't too excited about the movie, even when I saw the first teaser trailer.

But then this trailer comes out and completely changes my viewpoint. I knew that Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-men films, would do a good job with the Superman mythos. I'm happy that he understands that a superhero isn't a perfect being, but should have issues that we can relate to. That final shot, where Superman grabs onto the wing of a crashing plane and tears it off, is perfect.

Now where's that Watchmen movie we've all been waiting for DC?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hands Please!

My students have been noticing that I've been clapping my hands a great deal in class lately. Yes, I have been clapping a whole lot. The reason-because I finally can.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Emotional Food

I've been thinking a lot about comfort food. When I was younger, I remember my mother pouring me a chocolate drink that she said was from her childhood. She told me that my father and she had loved it and she hoped I would to. I don't remember what that drink was (it wasn't any of the normal brands) but I remember enjoying it a lot. That wasn't what interested me though. My father walked by and I offered him a sip of the drink. His reaction is burned into my memory.

He politely lifted the glass, smiled at me, and took a sip. His face ticked and he cupped the glass tightly. He drank the entire chocolate drink, ecstasy dancing on his face. My father, a very composed and stoic person, had a moment of pure joy. He thanked me, hugged my mother, and walked off to his office. My mother and I stared at each other. She smirked and told me that my dad had liked that drink a lot when he was a child.

So when all the diet pundits and nutrition addicts talk about how bad it is to tie food to emotions, I think of my father. If a small drink that reminded him of his childhood could give him so much pleasure, could it really be so bad?

Friday, April 28, 2006

Our Friend Bill

Last night, our esteemed Professor Goldstein referred to Papa Bill as a kind of Forrest Gump figure. In fact, the Prof said that Bill "seems to have more modern American history than the entire campus combined." Personally, I thought the Forrest Gump analogy was more apt. Books could be written on the vast amount of run-ins that Bill has had with historical figures. Of course, while Gump was an incredibly innocent bumbler, Bill is a (polite cough) not so innocent blitherer.

There are many thoughts I have about Papa Bill, but the one that is most prevalent in my mind is that he always surprises me. Every time I think I have the guy nailed down, he astounds me with another story about his life. Yesterday, at the bistro, he left R-dogg and I completely speechless. I always mentally prepare for my dinners with Bill, but I still wasn't ready for the stories that he told. Sometimes I feel as if Bill purposely readies stories to tell me on Thursdays just to see the look on my face.

There's an interesting lesson to be learned from Bill. Last night he finally let us in on his vast secret of being a charming person. He looked over at a young female college student, and wondered out loud what would happen if he sat down next to her and started talking to her. He looked over at me, his eyes turning sharp and determined and said "You know what would happen Brett? For about a minute she would act very uncomfortable, pretending like she was scared of me. But I wouldn't hit on her, just talk to her and gradually she would become more comfortable and her fright would turn to flattery. That's how it always works."

He didn't do it though, primarily because he was focused on the conversation he was having with R-dogg and I. But the immense secret with Papa Bill isn't that he has any more charm or better looks or anything of that nature. It's that when he's talking to you, he makes you feel like he genuinely cares about what you are saying, even if he doesn't know you. That is a unique trait that is lost on so many people. The way we show people we care about what they are telling us is the way we form strong friendships. Bill just happens to do it with everyone he meets. They are always the most important person in the world to him.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Last weekend I watched the movie The Confederate States of America, which is an alternative history mockumentary speculating what would happen if the Confederacy won the Civil War. Initially I went into the movie with a lot of curiosity. The subject seemed ripe for satire.

My reaction has been mixed. The interviews and re-edited stock footage is genius, and genuinely gives the viewer a sense that they are watching a real documentary. Making the documentary controversial and speculative also creates a veneer of authenticity.

One of the major problems with the film is that much of the new material falls flat. The commercials that are shown during the "documentary" are way too over the top. The fake plays and movie clips also have a stilted and amateur feeling to them.

Plus, suggesting that the timeline and historical figures would remain similar is just sloppy moviemaking. The filmmakers took the time to invent new white leaders of the country but relied on prominent black leaders. As much as I enjoy their works, Richard Wright and Martin Luther King Jr. probably would not have lived had slavery been allowed to continue into the 20th century. You mess with one thing in time, it effects everything else.

I do really like how C.S.A. seems to have opened debate up on IMDB. Any good historical film should do that. People's responses are passionate and eloquent. Of course, the one provocative idea the movie tries to forward, that the U.S.A. really isn't all the different than the C.S.A., is so awkward that it's placed only in the closing minutes of the film. It felt tacked on and clumsy, primarily considering that using commercial icons to assess a cultures' value is a weak argument.

Essentially my thought is that the idea behind C.S.A. is brilliant, but the film is poorly executed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's Not About the Pot

Initially, I was angry about the FDAs blanket statement that marijuana has no medicinal value but I couldn't quite figure out what my anger was directed towards. There are a lot of issues to consider, the most prevalent being that doctors consistently advocate Marijuana as a useful drug. There are lots of dangerous drugs in the world that the FDA has given the thumbs up to.

My anger comes from the fact that the FDA is not a government institution designed to help people's lives. Instead it has become an ultra-political group that makes decisions based on ideologies rather than science. As this article by Sydney Spiesel so effectively points out, the FDA never even bothered to do any research before declaring that marijuana has no medical use. So their statement is motivated by the fact that marijuana is hard to regulate and carries a lot of baggage with it. They'd rather have a dangerous drug that pharmaceutical drugs can profit off of. Spiesel is write when he asks the question "What do you do when federal agencies become so politicized that their recommendations can't necessarily be trusted?" As a consumer, you become scared.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Santa Doesn't Like Chimney Fires

Papa Bill said "If you had an interesting childhood disillusionment, post it on my blog, or yours."

One of the things my parents always hated about me was that I had an incredible memory for spoken words. When I was five, I would bring up conversations that we had verbatim. My father thought I was autistic because I never looked at people but absorbed everything that was happening around me. A lot of interesting words were thrown around about me.

An annoying side effect of my memory was that my deductive skills were quite adept. I figured out things about people that startled and embarrassed my mother. My mother desperately tried to have me keep my thoughts to myself. Of course, things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny intrigued me more than anything.

So it was one sunny day, shortly after watching something on television about Santa Claus, that I approached my mother with a series of questions. I crawled into a chair and she fed me chocolate chip cookies and apple, hoping food would keep me quiet. It didn't. My most prominent question, and the one that had been bothering me the most, was how Santa Claus could possibly tell that people weren't Christian. It didn't seem rational that he would have the time to know everyone's address and what their faith was. So I asked this question hoping my mother, beacon of knowledge that she was, would have a brilliant answer for me.

What I remember most was the fumbling. My mother had never stuttered when giving me an answer before, but in the case she tripped over her answer. At first she told me Jewish people have Menorahs so that Santa would know, but I reminded her that Chanukah didn't always fall on Christmas. What other ways could he possibly know?

After several aborted answers, mom lied to me. She told me that Jewish people light fires on Christmas so Santa knows not to come down the chimney. Initially I felt bad for Santa, who must, on occasion, accidentally burn himself or get smoke in his beard. But I thought about it more, and continued to think until the answer made no sense to me.

We had a chimney in our house, but we never used it. In its place was a tacky electric log with ugly wax paper that vibrated when you turned it on. Even at a young age, I was fascinated with how bad it looked. So I knew that there was no way we would have lit a fire on Christmas, and unless I was getting presents my parents were discarding, mom had lied to me.

There's this feeling when disillusionment strikes. It's kind of a cold terror, as if my world has been wrong all along and people are purposely deceiving me. I remember that feeling and swearing to myself that I didn't want to ask people questions again if they were just going to lie. I became quieter and less inquisitive . My parents were pleased.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The End of Vacations, The Start of Cat Crazies (Again)

I promised myself my blog would not just become about my cats. I mean honestly, their lives are totally bloggable on their own. I'm thinking one day I'll get them their own blog, but until that day I'd like to hold off on the blogging about their lives. Needless to say, a quick cat update might be necessary.

The Queen of all Cats is still living with us. She has cooled off somewhat and is not a complete monster. However, her feminine wiles seem to have gotten the best of my little boy, who has taken to following her around the apartment. I hear them talking to one another in the night, and am presently considering purchasing him a book of cat love poetry. "I finished the catnip/which you rubbed into the carpet/and were saving to roll around in/forgive me, it was crunchy and warm/like your fur when I groom it.*" Okay, maybe not such a good idea.

Vacation is over and I really am not happy with having to plummet back into the real world. Last week was filled with a lot of joy. A major consolation, I suppose, is that summer is coming on fast. I'm already scratching at the door of my complexes swimming pool.

*Major apologies to William Carlos Williams' relatives. Please forgive me.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Rhetorical Nonsense

I have my own Howard Beale moments when I read articles by Ann Coulter. While scaning through her editorials I find my fingers tensing, my bones growing hot and cold. I very rarely become angry at another's opinions, but I do when it comes to her.

I've very recently realized there is a distinct reason for this anger. I don't believe that Ann believes what she is saying. Her writing suggests she is merely finding sensitive points to hit in order to fire people up. Her ramblings on news channels suggest that she's trying to make memes as she goes alone. Seriously, watch the way she moves when she says something totally ridiculous. Her eyes can't stand to be that close to her mouth.

I had to remind myself of my hypothesis while reading her latest article. In the course of the article she manages to suggest that maybe rape victims deserve what they get when putting themselves into situations. It's a little like saying a domestic abuse victim deserves to be hit by mouthing off to her husband. She also suggests that Natalee Holloway clearly shouldn't have been on a beach in Aruba at night while inebriated. Yep, that poor Holloway girl sure got what was coming to her. How dare she travel to a beautiful island, drink and take a walk on the beach. There should be laws against such things.

But in the middle of her editorial comes this disclaimer:

"Yes, of course no one "deserves" to die for a mistake. Or to be raped or falsely accused of rape for a mistake. I have always been unabashedly anti-murder, anti-rape and anti-false accusation — and I don't care who knows about it!"

This nice little package forgives all she said before. It's like saying the phrase "I'm just saying" which my friend Dee says is meant to clear somebody of any responsibility they take for saying something out of line. I'm just saying it, but clearly I shouldn't be held accountable for it.

Ann needs to put in this remark though because something has crawled inside her brain and let her know she doesn't believe herself. So, on occasion, she'll give an inch and back off her statements. She can let someone else run with them.

Then after this nice retraction comes the standard "blaming it on liberals" line. Yep, liberals are responsible for rape, murder, kidnapping and all sorts of terrible things. Every time a liberal does not cry out how immoral an action is, they clearly are condoning it. How about the idea that maybe liberals respect other's lifetsyles and let people live the way they choose? Mistakes are life Ann, the are how we grow into the people we are. I never learned not to touch a hot stove by someone on the news telling me to avoid them. It's easy to make these claims when you are writing for an audience and not because you believe such things. I'm just saying.

My personal favorite is her random and arbitrary slamming of Jews, Muslims and Christians which is a nice crowd pleaser and a great way to end an article. Next time, it might be nice if she takes some time and does her research before simplifying religious idealogies into quick one sentence phrases. Somehow the phrase " I don't know what the Jewish answer is" doesn't inspire confidence in a reader. Whining about how long the Talmud is suggests she is merely an ignorant mouth spewing forth nonsense like it was free.

Which, in America, it is.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I've been on a vacation of sorts, so I haven't had time to blog. However, with these few precious seconds I figured I might point out some incredible highlights of my vacation thus far, which includes:

  • Posing as an interior designer in order to help my friend Dee look for new apartments. The woman was fascinated by the fact that I was a designer and had all sorts of questions for me.
  • Going to a Mets game with Dee and R-dogg, and seeing Pedro Martinez win his 200th game. Nice work Pedro.
  • Dee and I laughing like crazy at American Chopper because the bike painter's name is Nubs.
  • A fantastic barbeque where kickball was played and then immediately not played when the host's dog ran away with the ball.
  • Lots of falling asleep on couches.

Further updates will follow...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Professor Rock Star

Did you happen to catch the big guy on television this Easter morning? It always astounds me how people react to him. Colin was being his interesting self, which completely threw the other guests off. I think my favorite part of the segments was when poor Shelly Sindland smirked at Colin, her expression suggesting complete and utter confusion. She opened her mouth and said "I just don't know what to say to you."

Join the club.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why I Love Kids

"So why exactly is Tybalt so mad when Romeo said he loves him?"
"I think it is because he is a Capulet and Romeo is a Mongolian."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Digital Dreams (A Short Story)

We called him Papa, although that wasn't his real name. I heard one of the old ones call him Sam once, but he never goes by that name. He insisted we call him Papa. We loved him.

He was the last of the old ones. They all steadily died until he was the only one to tell us the stories. He would shift laround, staring at us with his bright eyes and tell us tales of how it was before. I always thought he was making them up.

"Did you kids know there was a time, long ago, when we didn't have to travel without these vests." He was referring to the airtight, silicone vests we had to wear in order to shield us. "I used to travel around with my friends and feel the heat sink into my body. Those were the times."

That's how he always ended the stories. He would look out the window of our tower, his eyes growing cozy, and say "those were the times." Adults are funny that way, they always pine for the lost ages where things were simpler, the atmopshere was cleaner and nutrients cost less than a ride on the transit. Except there is no transit anymore, so obviously that made no sense. I suppose in his own way it made sense to Papa though.

Papa was old, maybe even upwards of 130 rotations. But he was amazingly well built. He wasn't one of those people who gradually broke down as they got older. Instead, he seemed to only get stronger with age.

There weren't many of us back then. In our tower, there were maybe fifty of us, and Papa figured we were the last. We frequently looked out across the fields, desperate for some sort of sign of others, but there was none. Most of us were barely in our adolescent rotations, our parents having been killed by bad air, or in the battles before that. I never knew them. Papa was all we had.

It was during one particularly bad day of atmosphere that he let me in on his little secret. Papa was waiting to die, and would have killed himself long ago had we not been arond. The last of the old ones made him promise to stay around and die naturally. He told me chances were that we were probably all just waiting around to die.

I wanted to know everything about him, everything about what happened to change our world. He looked haggard, and insisted it was too much for me. I told him if I was waiting to die in the tower, then nothing was too much for me. He finally told me.

Where we lived was just a tiny part of an entire community that had been eradicated. The enemy, using very powerful weapons, had managed to turn our atmosphere toxic. If we were ever outside, we would either die quickly or mutate into a horrible creature. The only problem was that the enemy had accidentally done it to itself also. Our entire world had been destroyed.

I asked him why the battle had been started, but he said it didn't matter. All that really counted was what it had ended up doing. He used to say "wars are always over petty stupid things, but the lives they take are never." I didn't quite know what he meant since there were no longer any wars. There wouldn't have been anyone to fight them anyways.

At that time, my greatest desire was to find a way to fix our world. I spent hours scanning the only node still running in our building. Hours were spent studying what the bad air was and what it meant for the environment, but I never quite found a way.

It was Papa who found the way. Something about telling me about thebad times changed him. He followed me around endlessly, sharing with me stories of the war. Apparently he'd been one of the soldiers on the frontline against the enemy, but he'd been injured early on and spent most of it in a med center. He regretted not dying in the war.

One day we were searching through old files together when he came across a top secret machine known as a "reset device." Apparently scientists had been working on it just in case of the eventuality that came forth. It was in testing phase when the disaster struck. According to the schematics, it would totally reset our environment and make our world liveable again. The only problem was that we would have to go to the main corridor to activate it. We weren't sure if anybody could make it.


In my family, I am the youngest amongst my brother and cousins. So it is with terrible anticipation that I always fall to reading the Haggadah. Even when I was six years old with a red bowtie and we were at a stranger's house, I read the Haggadah. It's always been my duty. It's never gone well.

My first couple of times, I remember humming over the Hebrew I couldn't pronounce or remember. The Haggadah went something like "Ma Nishtana Halahmmm hmmm hmm hmmleyloth." There was a lot of wine at our passovers.

When I was older, we decided maybe the Hebrew wasn't such a good idea. Of course by then I didn't bother to practice the English either, so I started making interesting things up. Usually it would be like "Why is this night different from all other nights? Well, I don't have school tomorrow, so that's good. I also have a glass of wine in front of me. What's up with that mom and dad? I'm like fourteen." There was always lots of wine.

Recently I've been doing seders with my cousins. I still have to read the freaking Hagaddah because my cousin's children aren't old enough yet. This turns out to be more of a disaster because my uncle is the most impatient person when it comes to food. My new Haggadah is normally something along the lines of "Ma Nishtana Halayla CAN WE FREAKING EAT ALREADY Hazzeh Mikkol NO SERIOUSLY, THE MATZOH BALL SOUP IS RIGHT THERE, I'M STARVING Haleyloth Shibekhol WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING THE HEBREW FOR ANYWAYS Haleyloth."

I was pleased to see this very simple version of the Haggadah. I'm actually skipping out this year for scheduling issues, but I will send it to my uncle with my regrets. My plan is to see him on Friday anyways, where we will we eat traditional non-Kosher fried seafood in a nice restaurant in Sheepshead Bay. I'm planning on having this conversation:
"Why is this night different from all other nights Uncle Peter?"
"Shut up and eat your fried clams."

Happy Passover.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Books (Again)

I rush through books. When I become attached to one, I just can't seem to slow down and enjoy every moment of it. I take it in and demand to know everything about it in the shortest amount of time possible. It's the way I am.

Which is to say that when I come to the end of a book I really love, I am always sad. I miss the characters and the connections I've forged with them. Lots of books leave me wanting more. When I come to the last page, I realize the flaw in my plan.

This book, in particular struck me. Yesterday afternoon, I was sitting on the lawn at my apartment complex, completely wrapped in it. It was a perfect day, the sun shining down and the new spring hanging all around. The last page was nearly torture for me, as I had to get up and search for another book to do that to me.

Thank you Jodi Picoult....seriously.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Wonder of It...

Dee and I are sitting at Margaritas, enjoying a few drinks and discussing his new interesting facial hair. He thinks I should grow some as well and then we could go to gay biker bars together. I look at him and say "all I would need is the assless chaps." We laugh and continue our conversation.

Ten minutes later, Dee's eyes spring into life and he's staring at someone at the bar. He points, and I look over to discover a woman who is indeed wearing assless chaps. We both laugh. He looks at me, a sardonic grin growing on his face. He says:

"Quick, say all you would need is Anna Kournikova."

In case you were wondering, it failed to work a second time.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Another Dream Deferred

R-dogg and I sometimes dream of having Sunday brunch at a quiet restaurant and sharing the Times crossword puzzles with ladies. But it seems that dream has been temporarily put off. For the Times crossword puzzle is no longer the quaint force we once thought it to be.

My heart is sad and my tongue is fully jammed into my cheek.

I Should Know Better

What is it with me and hairstylists lately? My last haircut, the stylist literally shaved my sideburns ll the way to the top of my ear. That was a good look. This time around, I sit in the chair and the woman asks me what length I get on my sides. I proceed to tell the length is a 2, and before I can say anything else, she begins cutting my hair. Immediately, no asking me what I want or suggesting anything. Without a word, she gives me the high and tight army look that I hate. I want to say something, but she begins telling me how much she hates it when customers are picky. I decide that it can't be as bad as I think it will be. My hair is now so short that it's easy to see how pale my skin really is.

There's a reason why I own a lot of hats.