Free-Floating Hostility

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Speaking of First Class

Mike informed me somewhat airily the other day that his ancestors didn't go through Ellis Island because they didn't ride steerage. Obviously this means that my servant class/confederate defector ancestors and I were in the presence of real class, and we were properly humbled. Nonetheless I'm inclined to point out that unlike Mike's ancestors, mine at least wound up on the same coast as each other. His got confused and half of them wound up in Portland, Oregon while looking for Portland, Maine.

Actually, when I stop to really think about the implications of my immigrant ancestors' lives I generally feel like a useless parasite by comparison. When I was 17 my idea of hard work was babysitting and studying for general chemistry in the same night; my great-grandmother at the same age arrived in a foreign country all by herself, and while learning a trade (she became a seamstress) earned enough as a domestic to start bringing her family over. She eventually got them all to America, and all of her in-laws. I have to wonder whether in her shoes I would ever have a) worked up the nerve to get on the boat b) been able to hack it in New York or c) had the discipline to use my earnings on other people. On the other hand, Granny was by all reports a demanding, if not cruel woman to her own family. Is that what it takes? Is kindness a luxury? Not that I'm not plenty bitchy but you know what I mean. Just musing.

4 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at July 01, 2005 3:34 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The lives of immigrant anscestors can be plenty inspirational and motivating. Occassionally, pondering the work intensive profession I am about to enter, I think back to my great-grandfather taking his family out of Progrom infested Russia to this country for a better life. In some ways, I think I owe him to work hard to provide a good life for my family. Also, if you talk to people who grew up during or after that generation, being through the Depression gives them a real appreaciation for what is important and essential.

    However, there is also a dark side of their struggle, which might relate to your musings about kindness. For my family it is not cruelty but a total paranoia that something is always going to wrong. Every air plane trip, every sneeze, every doctor's appointment brings with it impending disaster. This is where my grandma's highly developped sense of selective hearing and memory comes in.

    Regardless, I do not believe either excessive worry or excessive cruelty are worthy character traits or even acceptable human behavior (although they might be understandable given people's circumstances), I do not think of them as a luxury. The way I think of it, part of what I owe my great-grandfather, in addition to working hard, is raising my kids in an environment where they do not need to worry as much. I cannot imagine that this mental element of freedom was not one of the reasons my great-grandfather left Russia (though far behind the more immeadiate threats of Anti-semitism and poverty). That is how I see my family's development in this country. My great grandfather brought us out of Russia. My grandma brought us out of poverty. My Dad brought us out of Brooklyn (that's right Jeff'y! Progress!). And I hope to bring us out of fear and worry. (Although not getting off to a good start last night, not being able to sleep before my PRACTICE bar exam. Sheesh!).

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at July 02, 2005 6:22 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The male fraction of FFH has not quite gotten the family myths down right. Search of the ellis island and various geneology websites fails to identify either of Fritz's grandparents. So the myths can be anything we like.

    However, one myth is that [maternal side] great Grandpa Emanual did arrive at Ellis Island, and was scheduled to take a boat to Portland, Me. He missed the boat, took the train, the boat sank, and so there is a history by this accident.

    The west coast story arises because Galveston, TX was a major port of entry for immigrants from the Pale. The unnamed also maternal great ?uncle was sent the wrong way because who knew what Portland?

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at July 02, 2005 6:30 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Comment for Dave: This is a bit pedantic, but for the record, there were virtually no Jews in "Russia" prior to the Bolshevik revolution. They were not permitted to live there, and were confined to certain parts of the Baltic States [captive nations], Belarus and the Unkraine. This is the "Pale of Settlement." There was considerable resettlement into Russia itself after the revolution. Mike has relatives living in Moscow and St. Petersburg [still Leningrad to Fritz].

    PS: Emanuel, not Emanual

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at July 03, 2005 6:30 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I did write incorrectly. The relatives I spoke of were from the Ukraine. (Sloppy, I know.) However, according to my other grandmother, I did have some relatives living in Moscow before the Revolution. I am not sure what their lives were like other than they were Rabbis. I will have to check the interview I did with my Grandmother to get the exact time period that part of the family made it over here

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I am Better than You

A computer glitch allowed me to fly first class on both legs of my trip back from Detroit. I am now, obviously, walking around with an inflated opinion of myself.

The first leg, Detroit-to-Atlanta, felt like an ordinary flight. Aside from a pre-flight tomato juice to go with my regular in-flight one and all the chocolate-chip granola bars I could eat, it was nothing special. But the Atlanta-to-Sacramento leg, well, that was luxury. Like, when the guy in front of me leaned all the way back in his seat to sleep, and I could still fold a newspaper in front of me. Brilliant. Or, while the suckers back in steerage noshed on a dry sandwich, I got some hot chicken dish with spinach and a salad. And when we landed, and the jetway pulled up to the middle door, I got to get off the plane first. All in all, it was a nice way to finish off seemingly endless travel day.

See in Atlanta, there were maintenence people hanging out in the cockpit during the whole boarding process. Then after pushing back from the gate, the pilot aborted the mission. Apparently, there's some device that makes the 757 we sat on fly like a 767, and apparently that's necessary because a lot of pilots can't fly 757s without it. Anyway, ours wasn't working. So we had to change planes and gates, which in Atlanta is actually a big fucking production. I swear, going from A31 to A9 was a third of a mile and took eight minutes.

And when we got to the new gate, the agent announced: "We have 21 minutes to board this flight or the first officer will be illegal." That didn't sound like fun, so everyone rushed forward like cows trying to get through a gate, which of course just slows things down. "No, no," the gate agent said to some punk in row 12 or whatever, "First class gets on first."

It turned out that the gate agent had it wrong. The first officer was over his contractual time limit. As far as the FAA was concerned he still had hours/miles to go before he slept. Five spacious hours later I was home.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Dave and Sharon were, as Mike has mentioned, on our side of the continent for a fleeting visit this weekend to celebrate a relative's wedding. It's pretty much always uplifting to see Dave and Sharon (love that girl), but I was extra uplifted while walking to the restaurant where we met, because on the way I passed a couple in motorized wheelchairs holding hands as they wheeled down the street. That's my notion of romance.

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Drunk Dialing for Smug Marrieds

Anna and I went to lunch together this afternoon where, I'm told, we reprised almost verbatim the conversation we had had Sunday night after my sister's graduation party. I do not remember the first conversation beyond making the phone call because I was wrecked when I did it. Spending a hot afternoon drinking will do that to you.

Among the topics we covered for the second time today: Dave and Sharon's 72-hour West Coast trip, me finding old postcards/love letters/Rosa Parks' autograph in my room, and the actual narrative of Easy Lola's graduation party. Anna was very good-natured about hearing my stories for the second time. She was also good-natured about being drunk dialed, at least from what I remember.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Hostylefaxer: Party by Costco

We celebrated the brief interlude in Easy Lola's academic career Sunday in the usual way. Fritz went to Costco, bought a ton of food, cooked it, arranged it, and plopped it out the family dining room for vistors to nosh on during the day. My father invented this type of party for Easy Lola's high-school graduation and has pretty much perfected it, and since there is no catering staff the thing kind of meanders through the day, which is actually what a graduation party is supposed to do. Sunday's event lasted about 7 1/2 hours, 4 p.m. to about 11:30 p.m., which is actually a little tame by these standards. When we celebrated Easy Lola's graduation from high school, the party raged on until about 4 a.m., which is to say it lasted 11 hours.

The highlight of that first party was watching Easy Lola's crapweasel (but of-age) boyfriend try to impress my father by going shot-for-shot with him. Fritz's responded by asking my sister, "Who is that fucking guy and what's he doing in my liquor cabinet?" or something to that effect. In hindsight, and also sober reflection, maybe showing what a good drinker you are isn't the best way to get your girlfriend's father to like you. Easy Lola soon replaced the crapweasel with Fast Eddie, which was a very good decision on her part.

I saw some old friends as well longtime Detroit Lefties, all of whom have soft spots for us. The highlight for me was listening to Easy Lola, who will take over the house when Fritz and Queenie depart for New York in a couple of years, unveil her plans to remodel the place.

Today it's lunch with friends and then back to Davis. Check the timestamp on this post. It's going to be a long day.

4 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at June 28, 2005 3:39 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Party story. 4 epidemiologists were at the annual meeting, recovering from hangovers from the previous night's reception. They wondered the cause, and did a survey.

    The first had consumed margaretas - tequila + lime juice + salt + ice.

    Another had

    scotch + soda + ice

    A third

    bourbon + water + ice

    The fourth,

    gin + tonic + lime + ice.

    After rejecting lime as the common cause of their infirmity, they settled on the common factor:

    ice had caused their hangovers.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at June 29, 2005 2:17 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I really like the word crapweasel.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at July 15, 2005 3:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • i too enjoy the word crapweasel, especially for whom that word decribes.
    I would also like to point out that a late post is better than not posting at all.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at July 16, 2005 6:53 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Truer word was never anonymously spoke.

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hostylefaxer: The Most Welcome Wedding Guests

Last night I drove to Belleville, Mich. for the wedding of one of my oldest friends.

It was a vaguely familiar sensation because while I knew the bride, her family, and one of the bridesmaids, I didn't really know anyone who could spend the first 4 hours of the event actually talking with me. In 7th grade, I would go to these bar/bat mitzvahs where I would be surrounded by suburban middle schoolers I had never seen before. It made for a lot strange evenings.

This one, however, turned into a lot of fun. I am a little more willing to talk to people I don't know than I was in 7th grade. Also my job is sufficiently cool that when we get around to talking about that, I draw enough interest to keep conversation alive. I spent part of the dancing section tending to the groom's drunk cousin, who probably won't remember being tended to. I saw a lot of familar faces, people I was very close to for a long time. It was a nice night.

The wedding was in the groom's parent's backyard, which was right next to a lake of some sort. Outside the dinner tent there were groups of fireflies lighting themselves up. It had been years since I had seen a firefly, but they certainly do add to whatever effect you're trying to achieve. Especially at a wedding.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hostylefaxer: Detroit

To air condition or not to air condition? That is the question.

In 2000, two years after I left for college, my parents finally put in air conditioning. "Great" I said, pondering all those sleepless, showerfilled nights I spent trying to get cool during my formative summers. Detroit isn't totally awful in the summers, but there are one or two weeks where the heat and humidity team up to make the climate a close approximation to life on the Ganges. My parents have wildly different theories on how AC is to be used.

Fritz hates it, which probably explains why I think turning the AC on during our 110 degree days in the Central Valley is a moral failing. Queenie likes it, keeping it on when she leaves the house so it will be nice and cool when she gets home from work.

Anyway, nothing keeps my mother from a good meeting, so this morning Queenie hopped in her car and drove to Lexington, Mich., which is in the thumb, that description being the best part of having a state shaped like a mitten. She'll be gone tonight because the meeting is actually a "retreat," something that sounds to me like they'll be playing Truth or Dare and putting people's underwear in the freezer. My mother dropped me a rental car place this morning, and when I returned home, the familiar feeling of heavy air was back inside the house. Fritz had turned off all the AC, except the one in my room, and turned on the attic fan and the ceiling fan in his room.

Also, Friday night I sampled a local microbrewery. It compared favorably to a Portland, Ore. microbrewery so that was good. I think I'm a guy who likes his beer "Hefewesizen" (sic?). I think that's another funny thing about me.

I am leaving for Costco now. Tonight I attend the wedding of an old friend and tomorrow is Easy Lola's graduation party. Look for updates on that.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at June 25, 2005 2:07 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Queenie used the excuse of a party in warm weather to put in the air conditioners, which are vertical casement units. Actually, they don't have the horsepower [actually BTU power or tonnage] to cool the house against a party crowd. Fritz wonders why people want to heat their houses to 72 in winter, but cool them to 68 in summer.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

The Following Dialogue is Based on a True Story

Mike: So I read a story about a lion and a tiger attacking a kid.

Anna: No, no, you've got it backward. Seven guys were attacking the kid and the lions saved it.

Mike: What are you talking about?

Anna: What are you talking about?

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Bittersweet I Told You So

First the horntooting. Please note the date on that post.

The Spurs are worthy champions. They beat Detroit pretty soundly in the final 18 minutes in Game 7 and deserved to win it. The last week of series was very exciting and it's hard to ne angry about Tim Duncan raising the trophy. I mean, he's a good person. So is the balding Manu Ginobili. So is failed spy Gregg Popovich.

The saddest part was watching Larry Brown do his interview after the game. It's pretty clear that the doctors at the Mayo Clinic are going to tell him he can't coach any more, which is a shame because I really like him. I mean has there a more adorable man? The Pistons will likely soldier on with Flip Saunders on the bench. He'll work Carlos Delfino and Darko into the rotation and I think Detroit has a really good chance to make another run next year.

At least my trip to Motown won't be disrupted by a parade.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Travel Porn

On the back table of the in the press box of the local minor league stadium, there is a stack of media guides for most of the major league teams. Sometimes they are used for good, such as to seek out information on the players who are playing before you. But mostly they are used for a game I like to call "Travel Porn." That happens when someone pulls out the Chicago White Sox media guide and says, "Gee, there are no long flights if you cover the White Sox." Then everyone sighs ,imagines those quick 3 1/2-hour flights from O'Hare to LAX and pine for the heaven that covering the White Sox must be.

I am currently a member of three frequent flier programs. Between Northwest, Northwest's partner airlines, Jet Blue and Southwest, I get miles for going just about anywhere. The best thing about that is the copious e-mail updates telling me about cheap fares to places like Tulsa and Boise. And while I am curious to see Tulsa and Boise, I am even more curious to see their airports. See, once you start playing "Travel Porn," the next logical step is to talk about airports. I can speak fairly authoritatively about the Twin Cities and Houston, neither of which are all that bad. But clearly I have more traveling to do. Everyone I know has had a bad experience in the Atlanta airport. Therefore I am really looking forward to my stopover on the way back from Detroit this weekend, just so I can complain to my friends.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at June 23, 2005 1:42 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I stopped over in Atlanta when I came back to the US. I was blown away by the the buffalo wings (US appetizer-size) after eating tapas for several months. I can't complain.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at August 14, 2007 10:51 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • One day I’ll try to play that game… Talking about airports, I have never been in bad airports.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Emily Post-Up

Today, while sitting through an excruciating meeting with several distinguished scientists bitching and sniping at each other and occasionally at me, I had an "aha moment." Academia is suffering from a lack of behavioral standards. When I graduated Columbia, the English Department hadn't had a departmental meeting in two years, because the debate over Classical versus Multicultural curricula had grown so nasty that the two factions refused to share a room. You can see how it happens; what town is really big enough for four guys that were all high school valedictorians in the fifties? But it doesn't have to be that way. I say we take our cues from the NBA. Professional sports stand out from other fields of endeavor in that civility is not only expected, it's enforced. So here's my brain wave: Technical Fouls for Faculty. Insult a colleague's intelligence, and he gets your sabbatical leave. Insult him twice and you get ejected from the meeting and fined. Flagrant fouls could be reserved for very serious offenses such as academic sabotage and physical violence. That's worth two Research Associates and the ball.

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Monday, June 20, 2005

Noms de Blog

In her well-received, though uncommented upon, post about dogs puking and shitting everywhere, Anna dubbed my parents "Fritz" and "Queenie." My parents report liking the monikers, which is good because calling them by the name of Fritz's blog seemed awfully paternalistic. And those who know me know that I hate being accused of paternalism.

I'm the most egalitarian fucking person I know.

My sister saw the post and immediately forwarded this request: If we were to refer to either her or her boyfriend could they please be "Easy Lola" and "Fast Eddie"? The staff of FFH has huddled and decided that, despite our usual objections to people choosing their own nicknames, that we will adopt those sobriquets. So anyway, for those of you keeping track, I will be spending the coming weekend in Detroit attending Easy Lola's graduation party.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at June 20, 2005 10:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I saw your parents on the corner of Montague and Court the other day. I was going to get Indian food with some coworkers and they were going to oversee brownstone renovation. We talked about blogs (yours and his, though not mine) and then I had to go catch up with the rest of my group. I didn't call either of them "Fritz".

    True story.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at June 21, 2005 2:09 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Congrats to Easy Lola!

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at June 21, 2005 5:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The dogs were on the fritz

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

The following post contains material that may be offensive to some readers, particularly those with sensitive stomachs or who dislike dogs. Posted by Hello

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FFH Note: Although based on eyewitness testimony, the following post takes some liberties with the story. The author has supplied some of her own details, kind of like In Cold Blood. The major difference between the author and her mom, however, is that the author knows which parts she has invented.

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The Dogs Take their Revenge on Brooklyn Dodger, the Rabbits Take their Revenge on the Dogs

It is often easy to forget that the dog is a direct descendent from the wolf, a pack animal, a hunter and a killer. One reason we forget the dog's heritage so easily is that as a hunter, the average dog is quite stupid. Rhoda is no exception. Her excuse is that she is half labrador; labs have had most of their killing instinct deliberately bred out of them because as retrievers their job is to bring back the animal that the human has already killed. The chow half of Rhoda however loves the hunt, and generally shakes the hell out of her squeaky toys because that is an ancient Chow technique for breaking a squeaky toy's neck. In nature, however, Rhoda is a complete failure. Her typical hunting strategy goes something like this.

1. Spot a rabbit in the middle of the lawn.
2. Go completely rigid and still so the rabbit won't notice you.
3. The rabbit has noticed you. Crap.
4. Regroup. As the rabbit hops away, stalk the rabbit, moving as slowly as possible (a rate of about one paw movement per 10 seconds should do) because you are a predator and your natural advantage over your prey is intelligence.
5. You are so awesome. That rabbit is so lunch.
6. The rabbit is right in front of a patch of bushes now, bushes that you can't really go into because you're wearing an electric shock collar and that's where the invisible electric fence lies. This is the optimal spot for attack, because the rabbit will have false confidence and be more likely to panic into error.
7. Charge into the bushes. When the rabbit disappears, stand at the electric fence, wagging your tail furiously, and barking with all the ferocity that is your due as ruler of the lawn.
8. Saunter back to the house, acting tough.

Rhoda has actually caught a few small furry creatures in the past, all of them in Riverside Park, where as Eva pointed out, the small creatures don't belong to anyone anyway. But on the whole she's a bad enough hunter that it had never occurred to my parents to worry about her actually catching anything born in the real wild. But now Rhoda has Ponto as her Lieutenant, and the two of them can hunt in a pack.

At first, it seemed like two lab mixes hunting a rabbit were no more successful than one, because they seemed to be employing a pincer move that forced their prey directly off the property and out of harm's way. But yesterday Mom and Dad came upon the two of them sharing the remains of a rabbit. They stifled their surprise so as not to hurt the dogs' feelings, and decided that this was the way of nature, and that it was the dogs' right to eat what they had worked so hard to kill. Dad was having visions of poor Mrs. Rabbit crying over her chamomile tea, but I assured him it was probably not Peter they had caught, but one of the less sympathetic rabbits, such as Mopsy. Besides, the dogs were getting along so well that it seemed like pack hunting might be the solution to their sibling rivalry. Mom and Dad put the dogs in the car and headed for New York, where they had a dinner date with my in-laws (in the interest of preserving BrooklynDodger's anonymity I am going to call him Fritz and my mother-in-law Queenie).

In the car, all was peace. For once Rhoda and Ponto were perfectly behaved, not once fighting over the back seat. Then, about an hour outside the city, an unidentified canine passenger let out the Fart of Death. One of the major differences between having one dog and having two is that when one dog does something gross, you know who to yell at. With two, there is always reasonable doubt. Mom and Dad felt the circumstantial evidence pointed to Ponto as this was a fart of heretofore unknown deadliness, but they didn't want to punish him if Rhoda was the real culprit. In any case, this was no time to point fingers. A Dog Digestion Red Flag had been raised. Dad sped the rest of the way.

Having arrived on Claremont Avenue, Mom demanded "Take that dog to the park NOW." Dad, who has of necessity developed a certain immunity to Mom's sense of alarm, merely tied Ponto to the fence surrounding a tree while he unpacked the car. Sometime while Dad was in the house, Ponto shat copiously on the sidewalk. Civic cleanup efforts were only mildly successful, especially after Mom went at it with a bucket of soapy water and spread diluted sewage all over the street. Ponto was taken to the park, where he had diarrhea of a nature most pathetic to behold. Dad returned to the apartment to find Rhoda had vomited twice in the interval. Queenie and Fritz were due to arrive in an hour. Both dogs were now puking and crapping all over the apartment. The Gordon-Cash family was suffering an epidemic of Mopsy's Revenge.

As most of you know, my father-in-law Fritz is an outspoken hater of dogs. He considers them dangerous, and finds them personally distasteful. According to Mike, Queenie feels much the same, only, "She's not damn fool enough to say so." So when Fritz phoned, my Dad sensibly pretended that nothing was going on.

Fritz: We're at the theater. Our show just finished.
Dad: Wonderful.
Rhoda: Hurk. Hmmph. Blurkegle.
Fritz: So, we're going to catch the 1/9 and we'll see you in about fifteen minutes.
Rhoda: Kgack. Fpoogputt [vomits].
Dad: I thought we might go out for dinner.

When Queenie and Fritz arrived there were already several piles of anonymous shit and vomit around the apartment. Dad had cleaned up the ones in really obvious places, like the living room floor, but they kept finding them in improbable places with astonishing frequency. The good news, Dad insisted stoically, is that partially-digested Rabbit makes for an unusually granular shit that is easy to clean up. I think they tried to serve cocktails (strong ones, I imagine) so as not to be rude, but as Fritz later put it, "Two dogs puking and shitting has a deleterious effect on ambience." He doesn't like dogs, but he really is a very kind man. They beat a hasty retreat to the restaurant.

When last I heard, Rhoda and Ponto had been locked up together in the kitchen for the night, and in the morning there was only one anonymous shit to be found, which Dad promptly stepped in. The dogs appear to be on the mend.

The moral of this story as I see it (and I'm sure Fritz will disagree with my interpretation) is that living with dogs makes you a better, more flexible person. You develop a strong stomach, and a sense of humor. If you're lucky, you have a partner with a good sense of humor, too, and you learn that you can weather all kinds of disasters.

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Memo to the Sportswriting Community

Yes, Tim Duncan and his team got spanked this week, twice, and hard. But that is no reason to go around saying Duncan has a small penis. Tim Duncan is a prince of a man, and a great player. It's just two games. Losing to him would be a great honor. In fact, if Tim Duncan and Drew Sharp were stranded with me on an island, I would kill and roast Sharp for Tim and me to eat. You should be ashamed of your overcompensating selves.

Considering the number of visitors we get through searches for "yao ming's penis" I can only imagine this post is going to boost our site traffic.

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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fight Club

Anna received word today that her score was in the 97th percentile on what we are calling the Fight Club Admission Test (FCAT). I'll leave it at that.

Congratulations are also in order to Ms. Brooklyn Dodger who was elected secretary-general of another fight club style organization.

See, we're preserving the fuck out of our anonymity.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Incredibly Gassy Epidemiologist

You know what's really unprofessional? Farting in other people's offices. A coworker of mine whom I will call Daphne has, apparently, a terrible problem with flatulence. I'm sympathetic; it's not like I expect her to walk outside every time she needs to let one rip. In fact I accept that when I go into her office I have about a one in three chance of stumbling through a fart miasma. It's her office, and she's entitled. But farting in my office? That's just rude. And I know exactly what she did, too: she waited for me to go down the hall and then snuck in on the pretext of picking up a document from the printer, tooted, and bolted. Now I am left with a fart miasma not of my own making, which is disgusting. Besides, people come in and out of my office all day long, and they're going to think I'm the one that dealt it. I have no doubt that it is Daphne's miasma, either; I recognize her signature scent. How would she feel if I walked into her office and blew a big snot rocket on her monitor? I can't work under these conditions. I can, however, blog.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

We're Safe

Thank you to everyone who has called in the past hour out of concern for the Tsunami Warning that was just declared for California Coastal regions. We live about 70 miles from the Ocean.

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Signs that I Have Grown up

In celebration of both coming three pounds from my goal weight and that we had a 20 percent off coupon at the local department store, Anna and I ventured to the mall this afternoon. It is a measure both of how long I've been dieting, and perhaps how big I had gotten, that I spent multiple minutes in the dressing room. For those of you, and mostly I'm thinking of the Dodger here, who shopped with me during my formative years know that I used to enjoy the changing room about as much as a bubonic plague popsicle. Two doors down from me in the changing room was an elderly couple who spent most of the time arguing about whether the man trying on pants was a 38 or a 40. I did not invite Anna into the changing room with me. She did, however, stand near the area advising on my clothing and triggering the motion detector. She says the clothes look fine. I'll settle for not baggy.

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Monday, June 13, 2005

Today I am a Fountain Pen

Yesterday Anna's first California ID arrived in the mail. Today I got mine: I purchased my first pair of sandals, real honest-to-god Birkenstocks. It felt like my bar mitzvah, like I've finally become a northern Californian. Plus I've cast my lot with the Bay Area folks rather than the fucking yuppie Sacramentans. Davis, of course, is really a Bay Area town cut out of the bay and dropped down in the middle of rice paddies on the edge to the state capital. So there we go. I miss New York like crazy, but alas. Now I'll I need is a job in San Francisco and we'll be all set.

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Feng Shui we Lack

I rearranged our furniture yesterday so that the air conditioner would no longer be blocked by the futon. The limitations of space in our apartment are such that our furniture is now configured for minimum convenience to everything but the air conditioner. You'd think I'd be used to one-bedroom living by now but yesterday my lack of options made me very testy. Mike reminded me that once when we were living in Hobbs and I was feeling particularly pissed off by the clutter in our living room, I turned to him accusatorily with piles of the Hobbs News-Sun in each hand and demanded, "Why couldn't you work in a shelf factory?"

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On the NBA Finals

It is undignified for a team that built a reputation on mental fortitude and physical toughness to complain about the officials after having their asses handed to them for the second straight game. Detroit deserves to be down 0-2 to San Antonio. That said, I think some points need to be made about the officiating, which by all accounts was wretched all season and that trend seemed to continue Sunday night.

I mean, what does Richard Hamilton have to do to get a foul call? He made a series of drives to the basket early in the third quarter, when Detroit was down by double-digits, and encountered physical contact each time. The only foul called was a technical on Rip, when he complained about not getting a call on the third straight trip, when he was clearly bodied up by the Spurs defender. Would those calls have changed the game? Probably not. But it seems that NBA officialdom has decided to do penance for all the crap Reggie Miller got away with by taking it out on Hamilton. Reggie's game was, shoot, kick a defender, fall down, and have a foul called on the defender. Rip can't even get to that point. The Spurs are leaning on him and holding him on cuts, but the refs have put the whistles away.

Of course the real way to respond when you're not getting whistles is to be more physical and get to loose balls. It would also help to make some shots. And instead of doing something about it, they're whining to the refs. It would be one thing if that whining was working, but it's clearly not. FFH had the Spurs all along, but we weren' t happy about it. But the way it looks so far, San Antonio is the only team that really wants to play for a championship.

Also, Manu Ginobili is great.

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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Why I hate the Summer Part 1: Little League

Summer is the slow season in the newspaper business, which means that today I'll be covering the city Little League championships. This is bad news. I mean really bad news. I don't hate Little League because I think it's good for kids to play sports and learn about teamwork. But I hate putting Little League stuff in the paper.

First of all I can't win, because I know that I'll get into the office Monday and some snide fucking mom will have left a phone message on my voice mail because I didn't mention Little Taylor's hit in the third inning. Second, I hate interviewing kids. I mean interviewing college students is bad enough, but fuck. Little kids don't understand the postgame transaction, the essence of which is "Give me twenty words. Any twenty, I don't give a shit." I ask stupid question, they give cliched answer, I write story. But kids just want to fucking giggle with their friends. And why shouldn't they? Little League is a great place for kids to make friends. The adults are the only ones who care about winning. And seriously, winning's not so complex here; all you have to do is look at the teams lined up during the national anthem. It's a question of which team has the most glandular freaks. Got an 11-year-old already past puberty? He can throw 60 mph from 45 feet away, and he takes the trophy. If the pitcher has peach fuzz on his upper lip, he's throwing a no-hitter. That's just the way it is.

Anyway I hereby make this pledge:

When I'm a parent, I will sit on my hands during little league games, removing them from beneath my ass only to clap when something positive and life affirming happens. I will never yell at the umpire. In fact, I'll bring a sharp stick to every game to prevent other parents from harassing the poor schlemiel.

Ump: Stee-rike 1
Parent A: Ump, you suck!
Mike: Thwack!

Anna suggested that I bring a flask so that the parents can just get lightly toasted during the game. But what if one of the parents is a loud, abusive drunk? We discussed bringing a joint and then discarded that plan in favor of a syringe full of haldol.

Ump: Stee-rike 2
Parent B: Ump, you suck!
Mike: Whomp! (pressing down plunger)

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Week in Review

Oof, where has the day gone? Okay, a compendium of things that have happened this week (otherwise known as instant blog posting).
  • I learned that Adam, the college student who works across the hall from me, refuses to eat vegetables and has reportedly declared that he would rather starve than eat fish. As to fruit, he can handle oranges and bananas, and occasionally apples and strawberries, but he classes the latter two as "high-maintenance" by virtue of the fact that you have to wash them. He disdains nectarines as "the donkey of fruit."
  • Mike argued that he didn't need to go to the gym on Wednesday because he'd been doing a lot of pacing.
  • I saw my first live Black Widow Spider. Cindy alerted me to a giant mama and her eggs that's been living above the door to Toxic Substances (yes, that is a real name for a building). Keith then hinted broadly that he should get a blog mention again for accompanying me to see the spider. Fine.
  • I got a $10 gift card for staff appreciation week or something. I was stoked, even though I'd heard that other staff members had been dissatisfied with their gift cards and had negotiated better ones for themselves. I think some people just got raises, but that seems unlikely given that we're about to have our third strike this year (three different unions, mind you).
  • I got to see baby Samuel, who is starting to look cute, for the first time awake and not feeding. He has a very big head, and his mom looks very happy.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Southern California Part II: Ridiculing Other People's Religions

My apologies for failing to get this up yesterday. I was called away on some urgent business.

Before we attended the Dodgers game on Monday, Joel gave me the guided tour of Los Angeles. It's a tour, he informed me, that used to include long looks at places where we wasn't hired to work. Anyway, the tour took us down Hollywood Blvd., both the good and seedy parts, past Mann's Chinese Theater where the starfuckers were lining up to watch people enter the Batman Begins premier. Speaking of Katie Holmes, a few blocks down from the theater is the L. Ron Hubbard Life Museum. Hubbard is the founder to the Church of Scientology and apparently such an awesome motherfucker that he gets a museum devoted to his life. We had been driving for 3 hours (I mean it was the Los Angeles tour) so we stopped to see just what was there. We were met at the door by an attractive woman with an indeterminate accent that Joel suggested came from the planet that the Scientologists think we desended from. I don't know whether Scientologists actually believe that or whether the woman was, in fact, a space alien. I do think that fringe religions generally put the attractive women in charge of trolling for converts because when I visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City last September, I found the missionary tour guides strangely titillating.

We paced around the lobby looking at the testimonials to Scientology that ranged from a former governor of Arizona to the woman who does Bart's voice on The Simpsons. The strangely attractive guide tried to get us to go on a 45-minute tour, but we decided that we hadn't put enough money in the parking meter and that we had to get to Dodger Stadium. We arrived 40 minutes before the gates opened, but luckily the L.A. Times had an article about how batshit insane Tom Cruise has become, especially when it comes to his religion.

Earlier on in the tour we had passed a Kabbalah Center that Joel informed me was the Kabbalah Center, not some low rate one. No Esther sightings to report.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dad Loves Me More

I hope you readers don't mind all these dog-related posts, but if I posted about my own life today it would involve boring you with an update on the gravitron and a catalog of how many Norah Jones songs I had to download before I found the one with the pretty humming ("Sunrise" as it turns out). I also wanted to post about a case of beer discovered at a London construction site that had been buried there during the Blitz. The bottles and the seal were still intact, though the beer was undrinkable, which is interesting, but since I can't find a link to the article that's a non-starter.

So anyway, some stories from people with more exciting lives than mine (my parents). The sibling rivalry between Rhoda and Ponto is starting to mellow down, but there are still some confrontations. The other day my dad dropped a refrigerator magnet and it broke into a few pieces. Rhoda and Ponto, alerted to the presence of a falling object and convinced that said object must be food, fought a duel over the shards of fridge magnet. Rhoda has also taken to obeying commands directed at Ponto just to point out that she has mastered whatever skill he is struggling to learn. Earlier today Dad commanded, "Ponto, sit!" and got a loving but perplexed stare from Ponto; Rhoda on the other hand came flying down the stairs for the express purpose of sitting. Normally when Rhoda is entertaining herself she is deaf to my parent's voices, but now they've discovered she can hear them all the way across the house. She has also, apparently, learned to open doors, reminding me of the episode of The Simpsons when Bart gets an elephant. She has diabolical problem-solving skills anyway, which is why it now takes her an average of two weeks to disappear her ID and rabies tags. My parents have no idea either how she gets them off or where she puts them, and fully expect to discover a hoard of them behind a bookcase or similar the next time they rearrange the furniture.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Southern California Part I: Playing Ball

Free-Floating Chasseneh readers may remember Detroit Joel. Well, he and I met up in his adopted region, SoCal, to try and recapture our lost youth by watching a series of baseball games, two at the new park in San Diego (Cubs vs. Padres) and one at Dodger Stadium (Detroit at L.A). During college summers we spent many weekends doing this, even embarking on impromptu road trips ("Pass the cheetohs. Hey, you wanna drive to Cleveland?") to see games.

Joel picked me up at the airport just about 10:30 and he immediately jumped on the freeway. He's got a brand new Mustang and has become adept at the quintessentially L.A. art of driving like an asshole. We made great time and arrived at our foul-smelling hotel in the slightly ghetto suburb of La Mesa. We took the trolly downtown and the route took us through some fairly depressed looking areas. It's hard to think of anything in San Diego as looking depressed, but there you go. Of course, the sun didn't shine once in our 30 hours in town, due to the "June Gloom," as one native put it.

Petco Park itself is enormous and has some nifty little features, like an old warehouse that has been converted to luxury boxes and places at the corner of the diamond. Joel pointed out that Petco, for all its quirks is really nothing special. And he's right. The Camden Yards school of stadium building, modern conveniences built to feel retro, has created a generation of parks that have unique quirks, but are really all the same. It's funny because part of the charm of Camden Yards when it opened was that it was nothing like Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, which was built to host many types of events and therefore was wholly unacceptable for most of them.

All of the new parks either have fake warehouses nearby (why people associate baseball with storage I'll never get) or are built with a skyline beyond center field. That, of course, offers the illusion that the staidum is really part a neighborhood. The area around Petco is pretty sweet though. We ate lunch at a decent sportsbar and had drinks at three or four different bars after the first game. The hot dogs were disgusting.

In L.A. we arrived decked out in full Tiger wardrobe and took our seats among the Dodger faithful. We were left alone, save for the girl behind us you was silent except to occasionally burst out, Tourette's style, "Fuck Detroit!" It was my first time in Dodger Stadium and I can't say I was all that impressed. Dodger Dogs are pretty average and most of the fans are assholes (what do you expect from L.A., honestly). There are some great vistas of mountains and palm trees as well as a breathtaking view of downtown all lit-up, but inside it looks just like Shea Stadium. That's not a compliment.

I did learn that I'm not cut out to be a visiting fan at a ballpark. I go autistic at baseball games anyway, insisting on keeping score (a thrilling challenge in an NL park) and on having stuff to do with my hands. I wanted Detroit to win, and clapped when they scored, but I don't feel all that much inclination to get into it with home fans by cheering every pitch. So I felt like I was letting Joel down during the first five innings, in which the Tigers had a lead. Then they, predictably, blew it.

In all it was a great trip, largely for seeing Joel and weather porn. Check back to tomorrow for Part II of my debriefing, in which I will ridicule a fringe religion.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

In which I Defend the Reputation of Dogs

My father-in-law is an unapologetic dog-hater. Having been bitten in childhood by what no doubt would prove upon investigation to have been a toothless baby weiner dog, he is convinced that the domestication of the dog is a Public Health Crisis, and presumably has been since the dawn of civilization. Now he spends some fraction of his spare time amassing articles on dog bites in an attempt to convince members of his extended family to have their pets euthanized before it's too late. This is the latest one he has sent us, an article on a labrador who saved a 12-year-old boy from an attacking pitbull in Detroit. Someone who is training his dog to fight will most likely purchase a pitbull, and as such pitbulls have acquired a reputation which is perhaps unfair to the breed, but nonetheless so many people abuse and mistrain Pitts that caution around strange ones is well advised. In fact, in the city of Detroit, abandoned Pitts are automatically put down, while other breeds and mutts are allowed to flourish as long as they don't suck. I therefore do not admit that this is an argument against dog ownership, only against the breeding of fight dogs.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at June 11, 2005 7:08 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • BrooklynDodger confesses that this story was sent because it said a dog did something good. Only after did the Dodger recognize that it had some facts which give the appearance that another dog did something which might not be considered good.

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Hazards of a Pedestrian Commute

I am amassing something of a collection of shoes at work. I don't have anywhere to put them, either, so they just sit under my desk looking unprofessional, next to the box top I use for a recycling bin due to some vagary of my boss's economizing. The problem is that I often walk to work, and when I do so I come to work in sneakers. I stick some work shoes in my backpack and put them on when I get there; there's a reserved drawer in my desk for my sneakers and another for my backpack. No problem. It kills two birds with one stone, allowing me to have a comfortable and pleasing commute, and allowing some use of the impractical shoes I have amassed over the years. I even keep a pair of chinese slippers in the sneaker drawer in case I ever forget to pack spares. The trouble is that when it's time to walk home, I generally balk at having to take my office shoes back with me. I don't feel like adding to my wen (Walden, anyone?) and what's the point when I know full well I won't wear the damn things out of the house. So I say, "This'll be great, I'll wear them tomorrow at work again, and then I won't have to carry them in." Only come morning, inevitably they're the wrong color or height for whatever I or the laundry basket has selected for my outfit. So I bring another pair of shoes, and the collection under my desk grows. It's getting quite silly.

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

See how they Run

FFH is having girl time and boy time this weekend. Mike is off in Southern Cali taking a baseball tour with Detroit Joel; perhaps he will favor us with a Hostylefax. In the meantime I have been hanging out with April. Specifically, we entered an 8K trail run at Mt. Diablo--yes, that is the mount's real name. April and I had been training for the run, which is about 5 miles long, and even though it had been a while since I'd run that far I was up to 4.5 miles last weekend, so I was more than confident of my ability to finish the race without injury, which is a perfectly respectable goal (shut up, Goldman). Luckily for me, April hadn't been training very hard, because she is totally athletic, but this way we were in about the same shape. That turned out to be important because by the time we got there the race had already started, meaning we were on our own in the woods.

It was my fault. I made us late looking for my mp3 player in the pile of debris known as my living room. I'd never successfully run more than about two miles without music and I wouldn't leave without it. So of course I locked the player in the trunk of April's car as soon as we arrived and forgot about it till we already had our numbers pinned on our shirts. Nevermind. I didn't need the player because April and I didn't do much running. We jogged jauntily off the finish line down a path to the woods and started up the first hill. This was when the significance of the words "trail run" began to hit us. The hill was at about a 45-degree angle, and we were about three quarters of the way up it when April turned to me and said, "This is total bullshit." For the rest of the race we jogged on the flat parts and walked up the hills. And at the parts where we thought we might fall down such as cliffs, streams and narrow trails where you had to go single-file. All in all this was more of a 5-mile hike than an 8K run, but the sun was shining and we were good-humored. She pointed out that most of the people she knew couldn't even hike 5 miles, and I pointed out that we had gotten our heartreats up to the right range for cardiovascular training, because I am a nerd.

We certainly got some breathtaking views of the valley, and we didn't injure ourselves too badly (April twisted an ankle but rebounded nicely). We didn't even come in dead last, and the race organizers were very supportive, shouting out our names as we crossed the finish line, though they were possibly just checking us off their list to make sure they didn't leave anyone in the woods. It was a missed opportunity for bragging rights, perhaps, but a lovely way to spend a morning.

Ironman is coming to Davis this fall if anyone wants to crash on our couch.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at June 05, 2005 2:29 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Good job. Congrats on finishing your first trail run race!

  •   Posted by Blogger Form at June 05, 2005 5:53 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I can't do hills either. I did 3.2 miles around the central park resevoir in near perfect conditions a couple of weeks ago, but that did not have hills. I also did 3.1 miles with hills during the Susan Komen Race for a Cure event in Central Park last fall. Once again, there were perfect conditions and plenty of running shorts to distract me through the race.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at June 06, 2005 4:50 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Arms are the key to hills - or so I am told.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Laundry Room Dramatics

About six months ago someone, either a vagrant or a fraternity prankster, entered the laundry room at McNeil Manor and shat in an empty detergent box. Since then there has been a building-wide movement to lock the door to the laundry room at night so such an incident cannot be repeated. Unfortunately there has not been a movement to make sure that all the tenants have keys.

I'm a laundry regular on Friday mornings because it's my day off and it's a sort of housework I can do with maximum television and minimal sweating. Today, the people in charge of opening the door around 8 a.m., a job that may have changed hands recently, failed to do so. They did not do it at 9 or 10 either. So I finally get some towels in at 11 a.m., but my laundry window has closed. Some enterprising student stole it out from under me. So I've got a trip tomorrow that I need some clean clothes for and now must still frustratedly and wait all day for the laundry.

This concludes my rant.

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

Puppy Bunting

In further news of little brothers for big sisters, my parents have just announced the adoption of Ponto, a four-year-old black lab mix who is making five-year-old Rhoda insanely jealous. Apparently Rhoda barked, growled and whined the whole way home and followed him around the apartment announcing that he didn't belong until Ponto "told her where to get off" as my dad put it. I'm sure they'll become friends eventually.

Sarah and Ryan also recently adopted a dog and rechristened her Lucy (thanks to Jeff for the photo). Lucy is an ex-breeding mom for non-allergenic seeing eye dogs, and has herself trained as an assistant for autistic kids, only that career plan fell through and Sarah got her. Lucy is apparently very well trained, but so eager to please that she doesn't relieve herself unless she is convinced that Sarah won't be mad by methods that as Sarah's friend I simply cannot repeat to you. Lucy is also scared of other dogs, which is what makes me think Lucy, Ponto and Rhoda should get together for a puppy playdate.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Deep Throat is Who?

I can't help but be disappointed by the identity of Deep Throat because I've never actually heard of Mark Felt. I was hoping it was going to be someone important, like Alex Haig or George Bush senior. That said, I strenuously disagree Pat Buchanan on how Felt should be remembered. He's a hero because anyone who tried to put a stop to Nixon's trampling of the Constitution should be remembered that way.

But you have to wonder how the Washington Post got scooped on this story don't you? I mean, supposedly Bernstein, Woodward and their editor Ben Bradlee were the only people who knew who Deep Throat was, and still Vanity Fair gets it before them.

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