Saturday, February 05, 2011

Before Breakfast

This morning I was laying in bed reading DFW's speech to Kenyon College in Ohio. I put the book down and said to my wife: "You know, the thing with business schools is that the only lesson taught is to maximize profit. They say here are all the levers, this is how you work them, the situation is dynamic, history has shown us to pull X levers at Y times, the future is unknown, go out there and maximize profit. And everything else at B-school is a derivative of this idea."

I was trying to use that statement as a prelude for why an undergraduate liberal arts education matters, wait, no. I was trying to use that statement as a prelude for why an undergraduate liberal arts education is the best. Why its the only intelligent choice. I was going to go on to say that liberal arts teaches one to have perspective, to recognize that people order the world in different ways. The b-school kid orders the world in terms of how it relates to the bottom line, the math kid thinks in sums and products, the engineer in forces (gravity, friction, momentum), the chemist in unions, reactions, and hypotheses. While the liberal arts kid is spared the arrogance of thinking that his way of ordering the world is the not only the right one, it is the only one.

But then my wife said, "You always have to be right, don't you."
And I said, "It's not my fault everyone else is stupid."

And from there, it seemed way too hard to get back to the "liberal arts kids are not arrogant" argument.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Get a New Brain and Then Go to Bed.

I can barely remember any of my successes, but my failures stay with me like burrito stink on my beard. What evolutionary purpose is this trick of the mind serving? Is it trying to encourage me not to make the same mistakes? What good is that? Isn't it just as important to really remember the things that were key to your successes? I guess not. My searches on ebay for a cheap, reverse-engineered brain have not been fruitful - which is sort of surprising.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The bedroom furniture

I am sure that lots of people alive in the universe have bought, buy, and will buy bedroom furniture without involving any of the following: guilt, self-doubt, teeth-gnashing, hand-wringing, poling questions, eastern philosophy, sarcasm, or David Foster Wallace. Since Holly sent me the link to the Pottery Barn Hudson Bed Set, I have employed all in a somewhat surprising and unscheduled octagon match inside my head. Who is fighting? In one corner stands a punk minimalist who is Hermoine-Granger-anxious to point out that people, some of which have faces familiar to me, don't always have something to eat for dinner or a place to live or the support to do anything more than sleep it off and hope it will not be so bad tomorrow, and wouldn't allocating some resources towards, you know, that*, be far better. In the other corner is a guy who has not forgotten that there is a certain utility in buying things and who is ready to tell the story about the time when his brother bought a pair of ski-boots and was a markedly happier person for three weeks following.** This same guy would also like to point out that the utility of something that makes a wife happy must be very high and certainly higher than money spent on, say, the Complete Works of Alexander Pope, chicken teriyaki, or even, booze***.

DFW comes into play in the WWDFWD context. He would remind me that there are only so many things to think about in a day and that I already allot way too much time to cursing my fantasy hockey line up. DFW has also just generally become my Howard Roark of the moment, being uncompromising in all the ways that I would like to be uncompromising - which, is not at all inconsistent with his (DFW's, not Roak's) suicide, because, it seems reasonable to assume that suicide, in addition to being all of the hateful and hurtful things that it is, is also certainly uncompromising. . . .which is of course a good thing to remember, but w/r/t bedroom furniture leaves me, where?

Well, perhaps it leaves me where I should be: perched upon the thin wooden rod of compromise****. Say this sentence with me: It is ok that you have lived 32 years without a headboard and now are suddenly in need of one. This is something that happens all the time. Embrace the change and stop framing the decision as a fight. It is a joyous decorative journey.

Sound convincing? No. Well, I am still working on it. Compromise does not happen overnight.

* that being, of course, homelessness, hunger, disease of all kinds, and generally the lagging enterprise of peace on earth and goodwill towards men and women, which, incidentally, I (once?) thought we were all supposed to be working on.

** Continuity comments - ok, first, this is the worst fight ever. Two guys who have stories to tell - one of whom is compared to a female character in a juvenile fiction series - really cutting edge MMA stuff. And second, if the fight is in the octagon aren't there eight corners and not just two? The train has finally sailed on mixing boxing metaphors with those of all other fighting styles.

***The booze argument is a bit suspect as the utility of something that intoxicates runs deep in almost every culture. I have not seen such a similar cultural phenomenon around bedroom furniture. On the other hand, and in this corespondent's defense, in the context of "the utility of making a wife happy" booze has not won many prizes (and what prizes it has won have been revoked the following morning).

****If the thin wooden rod of compromise was part of the Hudson collection at Pottery Barn it would cost $500.

Monday, January 17, 2011


On the train this morning I saw a good friend that I have not seen in a few months. We took a writing class together once, we get along, we respect each other, and so, when I asked her to recommend a therapist, I had no qualms about saying: "I am not sure that a chick therapist would be good for me. I would try to get her to like me." It is a sign of her quality that it took her a second to see the baseness in my character, her response: "Of course she will like you, you pay them money to like you." Pause. "Oh, you mean like you like you, I see."

When did I become so shockingly mature? No longer denying faults, but identifying them and adapting the situation to give me the best shot at getting through the day. Very grown up, very savoir faire. The other thing I like, finding strength in a conversation that is all about weakness (strength= finding honesty on the train. weakness = the inability to cope without help). Holly and I have talked about this before, we'll see just how strong I am - strong enough to do anything about it?

Saturday, January 15, 2011


On the train this morning a gray haired lady in the seat across the aisle from me pulled what was certainly a Werther's Original out of her purse and popped it into her mouth, which got me to thinking: What is it with old people and hard candy? Is it patience? I think it is the patience to suck and not bite, and the ability to identify the fact that little things like sweet candy matter. Would you rather just ride the train or would you like to ride the train with candy that implies gooey, scrumptious butterscotch? Right, me too - but a mid-thirty guy with a pocket full of Werther's sounds prurient and off-balance.

I hope I make it long enough to carry hard candy without guilt, I hope I am sane enough to recognize the very moment when that happens, and I hope I am cool enough to celebrate it.

Conclusion: When it comes to hard candy, youth is not king.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I just watched Inception with my wife and I wish that I had some 'plumbing the depths of the subconscious' comment to offer, but I don't. I saw an interview once with Christopher Nolan (the writer cum director, or is that the other way around), and remember being a little, well maybe not underwhelmed, but certainly not overwhelmed. Whelmed, I guess.

The movie was good (read:entertaining - for all cinematic criticism, the development of a "mature movie industry" and budgets that could shame the cholera out of Haiti, there is only one thing that matters when it comes to movies- -would you delay urinating for wanting to see what happens next? The quality of the movie is in direct correlation to the bladder discomfort you are willing to ignore. (nota bene: The effects of the Weinsteins' award season marketing has no impact on any side of that equation, none, unless they know something about pee that I don't, which on the surface is possible), but I digress), and I do like Ellen Page. She is Canadian and not very tall and I hear she does stuff like read books. I thought her character's motivation was totally unclear and there was no real inter-character or intra-character development, but who cares, they are bending shit with their mind and washing up on the beaches of their un (sub?)conscious. Which illustrates the second rule of movies (remember the first is "hold the pee = entertaining = good"): If you can't write plot, write cool.

Nolan's plot was fine, not wickedly genius, but fine. His cool, on the other hand, was wickedly genius within a dream about wicked geniuses. The flashes back to the free falling van were very gratifying (for reasons unknown - unless "cool" can be a panacea for me here) and he didn't ruin it all at the end - which is not easy and involves denying instinct.

So why is this post titled "Fathering", well, aside from the fact that no one has to explain their art to Warren (are Empire Records' references now uncool? Understatement ahead: I've been out of the game for awhile.), the other thought I had was how much kids matter. I suppose that one could choose to not go all in with your kid, to leave oneself some out, some modicum of defense. I am certain that people do this everyday, but in a movie of questionable motivational foundations, did you ever question Leo's desire to see his kids faces? I say, no.

When Holly and I talk about having another kid, I become enthralled with the idea that we will create another person that I will love as much as Eddy. At the same time, it scares me to death that I will have twice as much to lose in this world.

Oh, and Jon, whenever you read this (if ever, but I suspect you will), I have no delusions except one. It's good to be back.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What's Going On?

I just watched a special on Marvin Gaye. Phenomenal. Why has everyone been keeping this a this from me? Great beard, great voice, great drug addiction, great googly moogly dad what are you doing with that gun? If I do not own three Marvin Gaye albums by the end of the week, never speak to me again - anthologies are bald ass cheating.

This weekend I have plans to buy a new suit (no seer, just a sucker) and get some resolve - not the hardworking stain remover. I also have plans to run at seven apres midi on Saturday morning and to be confirmation sponsor of some note/relevance.

Those of you keeping score (and I know you are), that's three Marvin Gaye albums, one suit, one morning run, one solid confirmation sponsor performance and a character trait. Check back, I'll be here.