Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Around the World in 80 Days

Graham and I just finished reading this Jules Verne classic.  Awesomely good fun. Excellent surprise ending.

There were difficulties, to be sure, when our heroes Phileas Fogg and Passepartout pass through India and have to interrupt a suttee, the ritual burning of the wife on the funereal pyre of the husband.  I didn't really feel like spelling that one out for Graham, had to finesse my way around it and improvise filler.

Aside from suttee, I learned one new word:  "resounce".  Unfortunately, I have no idea what it means.  I just looked it up, and it only seems to appear on the internet as a misspelling of "resource" (as in "Human Resounces).  But there are 12,300 instances of it in that way.  The publicly available Oxford English Dictionary has no record of it.  But it was in there, I swear. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Big readers

Tonight, some 11 minutes after her bedtime, Natalie had about 20 pages left in her chapter. Now, she usually doesn't let me kiss her, preferring to squirm and screech and push me away till I give up. Tonight, as I leaned in to try, she says "I'll let you kiss me if I can finish my chapter."

Earlier, Mary had been trying to get Graham to put away some books. Graham, from his prostrate position on the clinch, responds, "as you know, my career is in reading."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back from the West

Flew through Dallas, which had been inundated with hail yesterday, causing massive damage to lots of planes and really screwing up American Airlines flights pretty good.

My flight was cancelled but I got on one a couple of hours later, so I had time for some brisket at Dickey's. While it's not pulled pork done properly as in you-know-where, it was pretty decent nonetheless, and the slaw and roll were quite good.  Surprisingly, or perhaps not all that surprisingly, when you stop to think about it, there seemed to be some meat -- most likely a pork varietal -- in my mashed potato casserole, which also had a little cheddar on top. That didn't need to be there. Should've had the mac n cheese.

Basically, I got there at a pretty good time, as the planes were getting rolling. Rumor had it that AA had pulled in excess planes that had been out to pasture in the desert during low volume season.  But people had been stuck in that airport overnight and were cranky and bitchy, so I was glad to see them go, frankly.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Downtown San Diego

On the one hand, people live down here, there's a grocery store, a gym with young people exercising, microbreweries, a Nordstrom's, etc.  In many ways an improvement over what I'm sure it was like 20, 30, 40 years ago.  Greener, sure.

Palm trees.

But there's precious little texture or flavor to be had down here.  All told, it's representative of little more than the malling of urban America.

The biggest surprise about San Diego is how mild it is, temperature wise.  Late May, highs in the mid to high sixties. Cloudy in the mornings.  Not what I would have expected.

Monday, May 16, 2011

J-O-B and more

Nothing puts a damper on a nice blog worse than working does.  All day long, into the night, working on that do-re-mi.

On Saturday I was finally able to get Graham out to Target to snap up a baseball bat to replace the one that has suspiciously vanished. And he picks out a nice, ultra-light metal one, entirely suitable for a boy of his lean profile. The idea was that he could whack the ball off of the most excellent T I purchased for him at the army-navy surplus/junk store on Main St in Carrboro.

But no, Graham wants me to pitch the ball to him, and so I do, and, lo and behold, he sets to thumping the thing pretty good, over my head any number of times.  And then he decides it's time to run an imaginary set of bases, bringing the bat with him.  I couldn't hardly tag him out at all, so quick was he round the bases.

And then, later, I took him back out to Tae Kwon Do where they were having nerf dart gun battle night. When Graham got there, Mary reported, a mighty arsenal of flourescent nerf dart guns was spread out on all the Zen-spare wooden benches, while a bunch of mostly 10-12 year olds sat in a circle out in the middle of the mats, presumably receiving instruction from the dojo. Graham was awestruck, but had a good time.

Meanwhile, Natalie had headed off to an evening of contra-dancing for tweens at some church.  She put on a nice skirt and a little tank top number. 11 is just around the corner, and I think the opposed genders are beginning to take note of each other. She pronounced the evening to be "Awesome!", and then the next morning presented me with a neatly written and categorized birthday list.  When I suggested she type it into the Macbook lest the only copy of it be lost, she said "OK.  I love typing!"

Despite the working thing, times are good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Back from Gotham

Made a one-night, one-day trip to New York for a conference over the last couple.  Arrived in the fair burg to perfect springy weather.  When I got to LGA, I found out that the guy who I was supposed to be having dinner with had forgotten about it, which turned out to be a great blessing in disguise.  With time to kill, I hopped aboard a bus into Queens to catch the 7 train.  I got off at Roosevelt Ave, got a couple of little empanadas -- ostensibly chicken and beef, but really pretty indistinguishable, as both were mixed with a lot of potatoes, but tasty nonetheless with some green salsa.

I started looking through my phone for someone to have a drink with. Ended up in the west village with a former colleague who has just written a novel about management consulting. Sounds exciting.

Then I walked south to Beth's place in Tribeca, past the haunts of my early courtship with Mary:  Sheridan Square, esp. Patisserie Claude, which was 5 stories below our window.  Lupe's, where we had our first date (after seeing the flick Heavenly Creatures at the Angelica, in which two Aussie tweeners get psycho and whack their mom, if memory serves correctly). Good times all.

And then, yesterday, when I had some time to kill between my conference and drinks with the guy who had blown me off the day before, I called up my friend Corinna who works there on 42nd St and we hung out on the street and chatted, just like we would've 20 years ago, only without the cigarettes.

Good livin.

Friday, May 06, 2011

The Spooky House

At the end of the road where we are renting just now is a very nasty looking little house. Only a dim light ever shines through the window, nobody in the neighborhood knows who lives there, it kind of freaks those of us with kids out, particularly cuz there's a path leading past it that goes through the woods to a place where other kids live, so it's a natural place for kids to walk.  In front of the house are an old Chrysler K car wagon and a Nissan truck, both of them derelict, rotting into the earth.

It is, in short, a mystery, but no longer.

At Johnny's this evening, I ran into Rick, of longtime local and touring band Southern Culture on the Skids. The house, it turns out, is occupied by Mary, the bass player, who has maintained a largely nocturnal schedule. Figures. The big white van that is sometimes parked out front was, in fact, the clue I expected:  a rock and roller lives here, not an actual axe murderer, just someone who cultivates that aesthetic.

Jumping up

This being basketball country, as kids we always liked to jump up and touch things with our hands: branches, ceilings, girders, you name it.  It showed we had reach and hops.

So I wasn't all that surprised when, this afternoon, as I raced against an apparently onrushing thunderstorm (which in fact passed us by) over to Weaver St to get my normal afternoon coffee, a 60ish woman, thinking nobody was looking, bounced up a little bit to touch her head to a banner hanging down over the sidewalk, advertising some kind of seafood for sale. The urge to show hops does not die easily in these parts.

New verbs from Graham


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The Sportswriter

Coming to the end of Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, I'm happy to say.  I was a big fan of its sequel, Independence Day, where I felt like our hero, Frank Bascombe, was sorting through real shit in a real, if stylized, way. This first book reads like Camus comes to the suburbs, pure and simple.

It is definitely bittersweet to read of Haddam, NJ, this thinly veiled Princeton, lacking only a university (which Princeton, in its own way, does as well, and I'm not saying that as a Yale guy).  So much else feels like home.