Thursday, June 25, 2009


In the interest of saving time (and precious oxygen), as well as sparing your feelings when you ask me an embarrassing question, I've decided to answer the questions that are presently on the tip of your tongue (if you used your tongue to type, which is sort of what Stephen Hawking does, right?).

Q: Are you available?

A: Alas, ladies (and open-minded dudes), I'm married.

Q: But do you at least play the field?

A: I'm sorry, but I'm what John Steinbeck termed "an all-married man."

Q: Okay, but let's just say your wife died somehow, right? Would you ever consider getting remarried?

A: I would want someone to take care of our kids, but I'd feel guilty about marrying anyone hot, and I'd always be afraid my dead wife would haunt the crap out of me for it, so I think I would immediately marry a Filipino housekeeper.

I hear wedding bells.

Q: Is it true that you're going on vacation for two weeks?

A: Why yes, that is true. Funny you should ask.

Q: You told me to ask that.

A: That wasn't in the form of a question.

Q: You told me to ask that?

A: What are you, a 15-year-old girl? Learn to speak with proper inflection.

Q: How many new counties are you going to get on this trip?

A: Twenty-nine.

Q: Do you keep track of the counties you and your wife have kissed in?

A: Yes, I keep track of a lot of things.

Q: What about the counties you've gotten it on in?

A: I just said I keep track of a lot of things.

Q: Do you know where you're going to be living in six weeks?

A: No. Aside from a general "northern Virginia" type of answer.

Q: Do you know how you're going to earn money for your family in six weeks?

A: Did my father-in-law put you up to this line of questioning?

Q: What do you do to pass the time at work?

A: That's a great question. I like to watch "Primetime in No Time" and it's scrappy cousin "Daytime in No Time" on Yahoo! [their exclamation point, not mine].

Q: How do you get to these shows?

A: You go to Click on the "entertainment" tab. Then click on "more entertainment." Then click on the "TV" tab. Then scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.

Q: Are you serious?

A: I don't think they want anyone to know they're there. But I'll take all the hard work out of it for you: PiNT and DiNT.

Q: Who's your favorite celebrity right now?

A: I'd say Jenny Sanford. Between the belittling position of accepting your spouse's infidelity and the haughty position of a "zero strikes and your out" mentality is the level-headed, self-respecting yet forgiving statement of Jenny Sanford. I've written before about the annoyingly self-righteous attitude of the modern woman, and I dislike anyone who deals in ultimatums, especially before the fact.

Q: Wow, what a way to end on a downer.

A: Tell me about it. And it'll be two weeks before I post anything more upbeat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kid Dance Party

Jerome Jerome the Metronome is sneaking up on one-and-a-half, getting ready to scare the bejesus out of it with one of his 120-dB screams. This week we discovered that he has a favorite song: "Human" by The Killers. He can recognize the beginning of the song and, when in his car seat, starts kicking his legs around to dance. When Articulate Joe was his age, he would do the same thing for "Tell Her Tonight" by Franz Ferdinand, and for Crazy Jane it was "Just a Gigolo" by Louis Prima. I don't know what music I liked when I was 18 months old, but I know it wasn't anywhere near this cool. Our kids don't appreciate how much work we put in to keeping them from being nerds. (We have to work extra hard to counteract the homeschooling.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

All Kinds of Crap

Firstly, I'm yet to mention in this space that my Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Flyer Tires for the Stanley Cup. Since we don't have cable, I'd listened to all the playoff games on the radio from (Major League Baseball, take a lesson: making your fans jump through hoops to access your product just makes them former fans.) However, for the final game we were at my parents' house in Saint Louis, so I got to watch the game with my mother and brother, who are also Penguins fans, and my father, who says he's a Penguins fan, but who actually just spent the entire third period saying, "Why won't these guys play any offense?" So congratulations to the Penguins. If the Pirates could just finish the year at 81-81, it would be the perfect year of sports for Pittsburgh.

Secondly, my parents aren't going to live in Saint Louis anymore. They are moving to western Ohio in the next few months. My brother and his wife, however, will stay behind, at least for now. He insists he wants to move back to California eventually, but I think as soon as he realizes that California is for crap, he'll change his mind.

Thirdly, Baby X passed his heart checkup and consequently is now graduated to a new blog nickname: Jerome Jerome the Metronome (which is something entirely different from Jerome K. Jerome).

Fourthly, our car's air conditioning, which has been broken for two weeks, is now fixed, and for only $147.

Fifthly, at the end of this week we head out for Utah on a trip that will get me 29 new counties, three new national parks, a new baseball stadium and baseball team seen, and (I hope) thousands of pages read.

Sixthly, Persephone and I are in the early stages of creating an awesome present/joke for a friend. It should turn out AWESOME.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What I Like About My Wife's Friend

I don't agree with Angela's hatred of Julia Stiles, but I like that Angela is a consistent Julia Stiles hater. And when my wife wrote a long blog post that barely mentioned cake, Angela (who loves cake, according to her blog), made note of the passing mention.

(I tried to find a picture of either Julia Stiles eating cake, or a Julia Stiles cake, but Google wasn't up to the task. However, the first page up for a search of "Julia Stiles cake" is Angela's blog.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hate Train's A-Comin'

So it seems these days I get most of my will to live from my intense hatred of various things and people. And as hard as this may be to believe, I've found something I hate even more than old people: Lady Gaga.

Old people have at least some redeeming qualities: they often die with piles of cash to distribute, and they are hilarious when they are in movies to say age-inappropriate things, like, "If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis." Lady Gaga, however, has no redeeming qualities at all. She can't sing, she can't dance, she can't wear pants, she can't name herself, she can't display her natural hair, and she can't do her makeup. (I'd include a picture of her here, but celebrity photo copyrights seem more binding than stock photo copyrights, which I violate all the time.) Whenever I see a picture of her she looks more ridiculous than ever before. Her celebrity reminds me to repent because the Apocalypse must be just weeks away. A careful reading of Revelation yields this: "Beware the coming of the talentless Italian fake bisexual, for then ye shall know that the end is near, yea, it is even upon you as pantlessness is upon her. Amen." I guess Lady Gaga does have at least one redeeming quality: she reminds us, "Jesus is coming; look busy!"

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Hatred of Old People

You want to know why Newsweek sucks? Because they ask needless questions, such as "Are Baby Boomers responsible for the economic downturn?" Newsweek, you could have just stopped after four words.

Of course Baby Boomers are responsible. They are responsible for everything that's gone wrong in America for the past 40 years. There are several different viable ways of running a country, but filling it with a generation of narcissists isn't one of them.

People complain "today's kids don't know how to work, they just want everything." Well, who raised them that way? Childhood is by definition egocentric; growing up is supposed to be a process of learning to move beyond that. However, just about every under-30 in the country was raised to believe the sun does indeed shine out his ass. Baby Boomers were incapable of teaching anyone how to get over himself because they never thought it was worth learning how to do. Now they have no shame complaining about having to own a smaller house or fewer than 1.2 cars per licensed driver. This is the generation that brought you the idea that not shopping at Whole Foods is somehow jeopardizing your family's health.

Note to old people: retiring is what you do when you can't work anymore. It's not what you do when you no longer enjoy work. The name for that is "being an adult." Perhaps you should learn about it, before you finish bankrupting the country.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Organized Anarchy

Our town has an anarchist bookstore. Recently it moved a few blocks, and is now across the street from my office. The Friendly Jerk didn't know they'd been around before that, so I went across the street to ask them how long they'd been in business. (The answer: 8 years.) When I returned, I sent the Friendly Jerk this IM: "Excerpt from my 2045 memoirs: "Until that moment, I'd never given thought to becoming an anarchist. However, after a chance conversation with a coworker, I wandered into the shop to ask simply how long they'd been in business. Within weeks the new ideology took root in my heart and I slipped my capitalist chains for good."

But that sort of raises an interesting question: if you were to write a memoir in 40 or 50 years, what would the chapter about 2009 say? The "big" events of this year might not really be that important, and the "small" ones end up being of primary importance. I'm always struck by the way memoirists write of their failed marriage. The good ones take the blame, like Alan Greenspan in The Age of Turbulence and Bill Veeck in Veeck as in Wreck, but even then they barely make note of it. Ronald Reagan's autobiography, An American Life, is nearly 1,000 long, yet his only mention of Jane Wyman is one sentence that basically says, "I married Jane Wyman, but it didn't work out, and we got divorced." At the time of his marriage, though, I bet it didn't seem like a one-sentence throw-away.

Here I am living my life, thinking it matters, but really I could sit down to write an autobiography and completely skip my entire time in Kansas. "In 2005 we moved to Kansas, and in 2009 we moved out." Or maybe even, "We got married in 2001, and after stops in a few states, found ourselves in [future home state] by [future date]." No mention of Kansas at all.

Or maybe, like Theodore Roosevelt said of North Dakota, I'll say, "I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in Kansas."

Helping People

I've previously written about how lame it is to help people. I stand by that assessment. However, I'm willing to concede that there are times when the lameness is somewhat mitigated by feelings of usefulness and whatnot.

My tutoring experience got worse before it got better. After all the people who called me and then blew me off, I had a woman call me to set up tutoring for her son, then three-way her son onto the call, then get testy with me when I wasn't available immediately. That was the low point. Meeting with her son, though, actually went well. He was a good guy, seemed to get what we went over, and paid me $20, which would make my high school math teacher spin in her grave if she were, in fact, dead yet.

Since then, things have been better. I've had "regular clients," who have been nice to work with. Two have been college students, one in college algebra and one in Calculus I, and two have been elementary school sisters. (The college algebra girl stiffed me for the last time we met, but she'd overpaid me the previous two times, so I'm not too angry about it.) The guy in Calculus turned out to be graduating in my major with me, too.

Last week the elementary school sisters called me. They had gotten their grades and wanted to let me know. The younger one, who had been much worse off when we started, supposedly went from a D in math before we started together, to an A now.

It was nice to have children express appreciation for my efforts, since my kids would claw me limb from limb for not acquiescing to their dessert demands if we didn't keep their nails cut short. Appreciation is nice, but the money I make from tutoring is nicer. There are times that I have $100 on me, and coming from someone who has spent his entire married life having his wife confiscate all his cash, that's a huge deal. But the money can't say thank you, nor win me a misspelled NAACP certificate the way tutoring has.

Now if I just had the hubris to really try this life coach thing, I'd be rolling in the appreciation (meaning money).

Monday, June 01, 2009

Scheduled Awkwardness

I ended up getting a massage gift certificate that was originally intended for someone else. Now I’ve got an appointment for Friday.

The main reason I hate doing new things is because I feel like there’s never enough explanation of what’s expected. That was why I started my swimming routine by watching movies and reading books from the library. That helped some, but could not answer specific questions, and as a result, I ended up swimming where I wasn’t supposed to.

This is also why I don’t like eating at new restaurants. Last week we went to some deli here in town that Articulate Joe’s been wanting to try, and it was unclear if I got free refills on my lemonade. Well, now I get to have another awkward, first-time experience, and for this one I get to be somewhat undressed. The last time I had one like that, it was when my doctor told her assistant that I had a hairy ass.

I can’t wait for Friday!