Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back from Boston

Where I suffered the indignity of having to wear my winter coat again, during the spring no less, but also the joy of lobsta salad as well as some fine Vietnamese noodles at lunch time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stripped down cell phones for teens

Just read NYTimes article on sexting. Makes me wonder. Are there stripped down phones for teenagers that don't offer texting as a feature? Could one lock them down so the functionality couldn't be added? Given all the driving related issues with teen texting, seems like a natural, though there are unintended consequences of making them talk while driving. Maybe just target for pre-driving teens?

... just learned on Fbook that providers offer this.  Good to know.  Why didn't these parents do that?  I guess the fact is that texting is just one avenue.  If they can't text things, they'll email attachments or something. This is more a cultural/parenting issue than a tech one.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Ghost Writer

Friday night. Watching Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer.  I didn't realize it was his movie, and then the music, the mood, it was all so Hitchcockian, so I looked it up.  In reality, this movie very much hearkens back to The Tenant, Polanski's 1976 classic, in which Polanski moves into the Paris flat of a woman who killed herself by jumping out the window and then thinks everybody's conspiring to turn him into her so he'll kill himself too.  "They'll never turn me into Simone Chueil!", she said. We'll see how this one turns out.

Sunday morning... Finished the movie.  It's as good a thriller as has been produced in some time, possibly since the Usual Suspects.  Went in directions other than expected.  Left me sitting on the couch thinking back, tallying up.

It is a shame Polanski's career got sidetracked by his pedophilia.  A great great director.  So many of the great ones in all domains get sidetracked by their dicks, as if they think the laws of nature don't apply to them.  Polanski, Woody Allen, Tiger Woods, Chaplin, Slick Willie, JFK, MLKJ, etc.

Don't be surprised if it happens to Michael Lewis.  That book he wrote on fatherhood was just dialled in from a lounge chair somewhere on St. Barts.  He has too great a range and facility of intellect and pen to acknowledge limits.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hide the Banana

I have a family of monkeys.  Each of us eats a banana a day.  They are, after all the most conveniently pre-packaged fruit and vegetable serving you're going to find, and they are tasty.  I eat mine at right about 10am. So the bananas disappear quite quickly, and when their numbers get low, Mary starts to squirrel them away in the cabinets, lest the kids should make them into potassium-laden desapericidas in the blink of an eye.  Often I have to ask where they are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Shins

I recently got the Shins' 2nd record Chutes Too Narrow. I gotta say that one of the great joys of being middle aged is not caring about buying a hot record 5, 7, or 10 years late.

Anyway, I continue to think that -- at their best -- the Shins are as close to the second coming of the Beatles that we've seen. The craft of the songs, the melodies, the harmonies, the total package. So it was interesting when I had them on in the car and Graham commented that they reminded him of the Beatles because of "the way they sing together."  Admittedly, his frame of reference is particularly narrow because Natalie loves those mop-topped Liverpudlian rapscallions so, but stll.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Return of the repressed

Throughout the work day I've been trying to concentrate on work, with limited success. Though I've stayed away from the allcaps over at Huffpost, the reportage at Bloomberg and at CNN has communicated loudly and clearly enough.  The shit in Japan is flat out scary.

I should not allow myself to be infected by this stuff to the extent that I am, and yet I cannot not get dragged into it.  It makes my skin curl.

Chernobyl was more than half a lifetime away, The Day After well more than that.  We had worried about AIDS for a while, but getting married and settling down tamped that down.  9/11 and its nephew anthrax came and went, and we've been on orange security alert or higher for so long that that's a joke. It seemed that I was back to the place where organically occurring cancer was the big worry. Now nuclear is back and in our face with a vengeance, and it's freaking real.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Enough with the shouting headlines

I had been reading Huffpost a lot until the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis in Japan.  Since then I've really tired of the enormous freaking headlines and have returned to CNN and other more down to earth news sources.  Huffpost is getting foolishly alarmist.

Artists live on

Just saw in the Times that Rob Pruitt lives on as an artist and has a new art awards program under the auspices of the Guggenheim.  It's good to see people living on.  I remember having dinner around '87 at what was to become a Lower East Side institution -- a Mexican restaurant called "El Sombrero" -- with Rob and his then partner Jack Early (from Winston-Salem, his dad is a lawyer of my dad's vintage and was known back in college days as "Squirrelly Early"). I knew them through Mattie Antezzo. Sometime in the middle of dinner, maybe towards the end, Rob swept his fork across everyone's plate (i.e., about five of them), made a big mess, and came up with a big composite mouthful of rice, beans, pork, salsa, what have you.  And ate it.  I was fucking furious.  I was not done with my dinner and I didn't have much money at the time.  Fucking artist junkies, I fumed. But it's good to see he's still around and that Jack Early (whom I last saw at the awesome Housing Works Thrift Store in Tribeca) is also having a comeback show.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fat heads

I picked up my Gwynn Valley baseball cap the other day and found that the sizing was adjusted for a head bigger than my own, which could only mean one thing:  Mary, she of the mighty noggin.  I jokingly started accusing her of borrowing it and adjusting the size, when Graham rose to her defense, saying that my head is bigger than hers.  Well, both Mary and I corrected him on the one, but he came back at us:  "But your head is much fatter."

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Passing strangers

  • Robert and I went to Dick's the other night, me to return a mini-stairmaster that was broken, him to look for a sleeping bag for his daughter or something like that.  As I was checking out there was a black woman at the register, 50-55 or something, wearing some sort of faux fur headband.  She was waiting for a manager to come up front.  As it turns out, she was hoping to apply the $10 discount coupon that was printed out on her receipt to the purchase for which it was a receipt.  Readers of science fiction will recognize one of those time travel paradoxes at work.  The manager came up front and said "we'll do it for you this time, but these usually apply to a subsequent purchase."  The woman rejoined:  "Well, that's not what the sales guy said, he said it could apply to this purchase.  That's kind of a case of... what you call it?  Misleading information, wouldn't you say?"  The woman was clearly proud to have broken out a threatening technical term like "misleading information," and her body posture implied that she had a team from Skadden, Arps waiting in the wings. The manager, surely an hourly employee with shitty benefits, clearly just wanted this troublemaker out of his store so he could close down.
  • Friday night we got take-out from the Thai place down at the shopping center. On the phone, the guy asked my name, and I told him, "Clark".  Consonant clusters like "Cl" don't always go down so smooth with native speakers of Asian languages, so he said, "OK, Bark".  Which is cool.

    So when I got there 15 minutes later, there was only one take-out order waiting and the guy leads me to it and shows me the bill and I jokingly said:  "How'd you know it was for me?" and he said "Oh I know your name, Bark."  Which was plausible, as I've ordered and picked up there many times in the past.  But still, you gotta love it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Colorful socks

I suppose it is a fad, but, like any fad, it is particularly cute when it is my children who are engaging in it.  Right now one of them is colorful socks, particularly ones with toes in them. Natalie is digging them these days, as in the picture below, in which she darts out of the range of field of my camera, but I nonetheless capture one elusive sock. 

Of course, like any other self-respecting 5th grade girl these days, she has also been amassing an impressive collection of hand sanitizer, in many different aromas. One of her friends, she told me has like 30 different scents!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Stormwater mgmt

The town has been looking at our proposed renovation carefully, and one thing it was concerned with was the creek down at the bottom of our yard.  It seems that new laws were passed in December mandating that areas around streams be left "undisturbed" to slow the flow of water down into them to reduce the amount of nitrogen and other crap that goes down to Jordan Lake, to prevent or reduce algae blooms.  So some dude from the town was poking around my yard last week.

When Graham and I were over there by the lake yesterday, I looked down the hill in my yard and noticed a yellow "no trespassing" sign down there. The casual observer would not know if it referred to my yard or the area down below, but I know.  The town wants people to stay away from the stream.  Good luck with that, I say. I'm not reprimanding kids looking for newts.  More importantly, it's not like human presence is hugely impactful down there.  Hello, town, it's the freaking deer.  If you want foliage to grow around streams, you've honestly got to get more aggressive culling those big doe-eyed rats who nibble up all the understory everywhere and traipse about with utter bamby sangfroid.  Deer are not literate.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Picking paint colors

We are currently working on picking paint colors for the house, because we have to pick the color of our screens so that we can order windows so that they can be ready for the general contractor so that when he's done with demo and framing and whatnot there can be some sort of inspection so that they can move forward with drywalling etc.  Something like that.

The eternal regression of decision-making.  Arghh!

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Standing in the kitchen

There is really nothing better than standing in the kitchen in the evening running over with your spouse the amusing things your kids said or did that day.  If there had to guess at the meaning of life, that would probably be as close as I could get.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Confusion over Iraq

Graham continues to alternate watching the military channel with cartoons.  Today I came home and he was talking to Mary, confused.  Apparently, he had seen a program about Desert Storm or whatever we called it, and had seen our tanks roll smoothly and easily into Baghdad, and had even seen President Bush flashing a victory sign. Mary was explaining to him why, in spite of this, we were still at war in Iraq.  So confusing for the 7-year old set.

Playing in the creek

Yesterday went to Community Park with Graham and his friend Sam.  Eventually they ended up down in the creek, where they played in the sand and got (you guessed it) filthy. Watching them expand a rivulet into a stream while Graham's butt crack hung out of the back of his jeans was, as they say in the Mastercard commercials, priceless.