LETS NOT DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN

I flew down to Florida to visit my folks this past weekend.  I feel very lucky that I can still do that. No, not my ability to fly; although not long after 9-11 there was a little incident that almost got me on a no fly list.  Luckily my wife physically put her hand over my mouth before I could get into too much trouble. Things were tense at the airport with new security measures being rushed in place at the same time American Airlines filed bankruptcy laying off 13,000 union workers.

Despite leaving our house two hours before take-off, we had just missed a 7:00am flight due to an airport parking lot closure, wrong directions from the ticketing desk agent and a last minute terminal change. Instead of helping us get on another flight the gate attendant blankly looked at me when I explained what happened and asked me if I “was going to take responsibility for anything in my life?” Now it did not help that I sorta looked like a confused terrorist on my rather near expired old Florida driver’s license photo from a decade before. We learned later the whole time the woman was lecturing me she was also typing some not flattering things about me into the system. But we did eventually get where we were going and the long version is a tale for another day.

I feel lucky about flying to see my folks because a lot of my peers have already lost their parents. And I don’t mean the kind of ‘lost’ where they’re traveling somewhere in Europe and we have no clue exactly where they are or when in fear of damaging your own sanity you speed away from the slack-jawed freaks at the Wal-Mart forgetting your wandering parent killing time torturing the clerk in the Garden Department ‘lost’ or even the we have been bickering over something stupid and are not talking this month ‘lost’. No, I’m referring to the BIG ugly forever ‘lost’. The one typically preceded by a mortifying soul-crushing health decline before the inevitable horrid traumatic opposite of birth, extremely final ‘lost’.

Time is a funny thing and no matter how much of it you have, it’s never enough. My parent’s are both inching very close to 90. They are still full of vigor, stories and opinions that I seem to never grow tired of… but that might be because I live on the other side of the country. It’s tough being so far away, only able to visit for a day here and there, but maybe that is why I love being around them so much when I am in town. That also might be why they appreciate me so much when I visit. Taken in small doses I do tend to be better liked and far less annoying. I have always used the ‘fish’ rule when visiting people. It’s always pleasant to have fresh fish for dinner but you don’t want it sitting around for days and days. The longer its there, the worse it stinks.

It’s always a little bit of an emotional head trip to visit them. In my brain they still look the way they did when I was growing up. Dad might look great for someone 89 but someone 89 does not look like a 50 year old. That said, it must be equally hard for them to see their youngest son bald, gray and in his fifties. I assume I am a bratty little boy in their mental image of me.

As a little kid, time moved so slow I’d complain to my Mom I was bored and had nothing to do. Back then, 20 years old seemed very adult and mature. When I finally actually hit 20, my thirties seemed as way, way distant and unfathomable as walking on Mars. At 30 I had the perspective to realize how much I did not know at 20 but still felt very much like I was in the midst of the first half of this thing called a lifetime. Now in my fifties I often feel like I’ve passed the slow and steady first-half hike up the hill. Like I’m over the hump of the mountain peak where time suddenly speeds up. Life now feels like a rolling boulder gaining speed as it careens faster and faster almost uncontrollably down the far side of the Mountain of Life. The path is fairly set and hard to change and the unpleasant final crash at the bottom appears to be getting closer and closer.

When you hear about people you knew in school dying of natural causes it tweeks that mortality trigger in your brain. I realize I now have thoughts about travels and adventures I want to share with my wife before it’s too late. Before ‘lost’ comes into the equation.  Marketers might try to convince us that 50 is the new 40, but I think any Actuary would confirm that 50 is, well… 50.  So unless modern science can figure out how to modify Professor Peabody’s Way Back Machine to reverse someone’s age, on average I have about 25 years left to pack an awful lot of living into. I mean, if that life expediency average holds true, at that rate if I only go to Vegas twice a year till I die, that is only 50 more trips. That’s not enough?!?!

It feels like lately almost every long conversation with friends or family eventually turns to illnesses and executors or diseases and plots. It was not always that way although I do recall one particular conversation with my Mom when I was in High School and she was close to my current age. Her Mother had recently passed away and she was obviously feeling the pains of loss and mortality. She said, the oddest thing about growing older is that your head does not change. Your body ages and grows weaker but forgets to tell your brain. Your mind still acts the same way. I have since learned first hand that she was right. But unfortunately even worse, the mind does sometimes fail, but it does not see that either.

One of my brothers passed away a year or so ago. I find time has not really lessened the pain of that. The odd thing is, if I see a photo of him from awhile ago it makes me smile but when I see any from his last year I tear up. It’s like my brain is comfortable seeing him before he got so ill but just wants to avoid that whole nasty patch at the end.  While seeing my folks this past weekend, I also spent time with my sister too. At one point she whispered a pretty dark gallows humor joke to me about my brother. It was VERY funny and in VERY bad taste. Sometimes it’s a good thing that my Mother’s hearing is going; none of us is too old for the swat in the head she would have given us had she heard.

My Sister and I reminded each other that just minutes after my brother’s interment, I asked my other siblings if it was still OK to still playfully tease him like we always had. We all very quickly answered yes as we would definitely want that to continue if any of us had passed.

I do not think there is enough time for me to ever really get over my brother. I don’t think there will ever be enough time that I get with my parents. I know a 40 hour visit feels like it is not enough time. But I do know when it comes to time, no matter how much it seems to warp and bend, I have no control over it.

Dl PIC

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IT’S LIKE SNOOKER

I am not sure at what age ‘quirky’ turns into ‘eccentric’ but I have a hunch I am getting pretty close to that exit on the lifetime expressway. Something similar has happened to me before. The comment pages of my 9th grade junior high school yearbook is littered with notes starting with ‘you’re so crazy but…’ Sometime during my settled-down visibly responsible vaguely respectable adulthood that ‘crazy’ magically shifted to the more societal acceptable ‘quirky’. Mind you, the only thing that has really changed is my age and other people’s perceptions of me; I believe my squishy brain is pretty much the same.

My family still perceives me as nuttier than a jar of JIF, but that’s one of those ‘kettle calling’ things like a swimming fish calling an ocean bottom mollusk all wet or Donald Trump calling an opposing politician egotistical.   But with my family it’s more than a ‘takes one to know one’ deal-e-o. I’m the youngest of five siblings and I fully blame all of them along with my parents as the cause of my well documented crazy-quirky eccentricities.

As proof of the wackiness I was born into I offer for example that out of the blue, anywhere, anytime, anyplace I mention the George Washington Bridge near one of my family members, I can pretty much guarantee one of them will interrupt whatever I was saying and suddenly start singing the following song to the tune of a famous waltz:

George Washington Bridge,

Georgie Washington Washington Bridge,

George Washington Bridge,

Georgie Washington Washington Bridge,

George Washington Bridge,

Georgie Washington Washington Bridge…

Don’t ask why. At this point I am not sure anyone could explain its origins. It just always happens.

Throughout my childhood, my siblings complained Sunday mornings when Dad cranked Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory on his stereo so loud that the house windows rattled or when my Mom flipped her little fridge-top transistor radio from the news station to her favorite elevator style easy listening tunes to which she would somewhat creatively sing along to ( I tried to be gentle there). In suit, Mom called anything recorded after 1955 that we listened to, ‘yeah, yeah’ music and Dad ignored the bunch of us. The only thing everyone could agree on was Allen Sherman, who was a sort of 1960s kitschy Jewish version of Weird Al Yankovic.  So my odd musical tastes were started very young, growing up with a steady diet of very goofy dated song parodies.

Another similar wacky family thing like that has to do with the late recording artist / comedian / raconteur / advertising creative director Stan Freberg who put out a comedy album a couple of years before I was born parodying the History of The United States Of America.  This album was played a lot in my house. A whole lot. I basically grew up hearing repeated quotes from it.

During the segment about Dutchman Peter Minuit’s (sic. Tishman) 1626 purchase of Manhattan from the local native American Indians for $ 24.00 (“of junk jewelry”), there is a quick one liner exchange where Peter is reading the real estate listing details of the island and asks his slick New Yawky real estate agent about the line “room for pool… what’s pool?” The agent snappily replies “it’s like snooker”, referring to the centuries old English billiards game.

Yeah, not really a hilarious gut buster. Believe me, I know. My wife does not get any of that album and just gives me a look when I go off on tangents from it. Maybe it’s just too dated, too dry or you just have to hear it eight zillion times before it becomes funny.  But like so many other odd things with my family if I say “what’s pool”, I am assured somebody will respond, “it’s like snooker”.

This has come up a lot lately in my currently ‘quirky’ (soon to be eccentric) head because this past year both my sister and I have purchased houses with pools. When you have a pool the word ‘pool’ comes up a lot. A whole lot. And when you are raised in the house I was, every time you hear the word ‘pool’ your brain automatically pushes a little Pavlovian like button that causes a little voice in my skull to say “it’s like snooker”.

This is our first full summer in the house and I am out in the pool (“it’s like snooker”) almost every day trying to get my money’s worth, especially since half the year it’s a useless expensive labor-intensive deep puddle. My wife really did not want the pool (“it’s like snooker”). When we first decided we would place an offer on this house, she actually went as far as researching how much it would cost to get the pool (“it’s like snooker”) removed and the remaining hole filled in.

Having a pool (“it’s like snooker”) also causes other issues that I had not previously thought of. Do I ask friends over for a swim on hot weekends? At our last house, a neighbor kept inviting us over to use their hot tub and it almost sounded like a creepy offer to swing or wife swap.  We found out it definitely was not when another neighbor got the same impression but was bolder than us about clearing up the confusion.

I hate adding pompous or creep to my crazy, quirky, eccentric adjective list, so what is the proper etiquette for saying come on over for a refreshing dip in the pool (“it’s like snooker”)? And more importantly, who am I okay seeing my big giant flabby gut blobbing over the top of my bathing suit? I don’t think I can pull off a belly hiding male unitard and my scuba wet suit might be overkill. If I wait till I have a bathing suit friendly body before I invite anyone to swim, it might be decades from now and my bigger issue will be is it ok to swim in my Depends.

This is one of those things that’s easier if you have kids. You can use them as the excuse for everything. Bring the kids for a pool (“it’s like snooker”) play-date. Adult lumpiness is forgiven when it’s for the kids. Of course, than you have the whole peeing in the pool (it’s like snooker) thing to deal with. Hmmm, I had not really thought about the whole comingling with other people’s bodily fluids thing.

Maybe I’ll ask my sister, she seems to have successfully pulled off the adult pool (“it’s like snooker”) party. She is older than me though, so I can ask her about that Depends in the pool thing too. To which she will probably tell me to go jump off the George Washington Bridge (“Georgie Washington, Washington Bridge. George Washington Bridge. Georgie Washington, Washington Bridge…,”)

Duckie(1)

 

 

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ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA

I wonder if attendance at High School reunions has dramatically dropped in the past 15 years since FACEBOOK got popular. Maybe I am wrong but I have always assumed that most people attend those simply to see how their classmates have aged. Did the football star become a divorced fat bald sewer worker? Did the geeky nerd pull a ‘kissed toad’ move transforming into a handsome prince? Which snooty cheerleader became wider than a wildebeest and which winsome wallflower blossomed into a vivacious vixen?

Back in the stone age before the internet, finding out ‘what ever happened to’ was a lot harder than a Google search or simple social media fishing expedition.  Even in small towns most folks just keep up with a handful of old friends, so back in the proverbial day, you had to wait a decade or so for a big bruhaha reunion to finally find out whose body got lumpy, whose life got bumpy and whose world turned schlumpy.

I guess some folks never look back but I think far more of us at some point have dug around a little to see if you could finally stop regretting losing the ‘one that got away’.  We want to think of ourselves as more evolved but tell me you would not smile if you learned that High School classmate that viciously stomped on your heart ended up miserable from making a continuous series of bad choices.

Many years ago, I went to my 10-year class reunion primarily as a bit of joke with my buddy Mike. We spent most of the time making fun of the folks taking it so seriously and laughing at the same nimrods that had grown from unpleasant kids to unpleasant adults but at that point people had not really changed that much yet.  Mike told folks he had become a Metaphysical Psychologist and I claimed to have become an Amish Priest. We laughed our way through it and then left early.

I certainly can’t say anything bad about the experience except that it was a bit unrewarding and kinda anti-climactic. It was an experience. I even hooked-up and started dating someone I had not seen in that decade away who likely never would have gone out with me back when we were in school.  So believe me, I understand the benefits of going to these things and how keeping up with people can lead to fruitful reconnections and help keep you connected to the past. But what about all those periphery folks I mentioned.  Those faces in the yearbook of people you kinda knew way back when but then and now really have no deep friendship with.

That leads me to the whole reason all this popped in my head. Birthdays. I seem to constantly get those little pop up reminders that its someone’s birthday. And like a blindly led sheep, that I obviously can sometimes be, I always type a little ‘happy happy’ greeting and post it there on the old unforgiving internet for all to see illustrating I am a caring loving friend willing to spend the barest minimum effort to spread a drop a modicum of cheer.

Then the other morning I got seven birthday notices.  I don’t know what made folks so frisky in those Octobers prior but I seem to know a lot of July babies. There were more proddings for Birthday greetings the next day too. Then more the next. Who are all these people?

Happy Happy’ I typed over and over and over again. Like eating addictive potato chips I could not stop at only one, even though there really was only one single person that I truly am particularly close to. I thought about just posting my well wishes to just the one dear old friend but what if some lesser acquaintance saw I bothered to type a greeting to someone else that day but ignored them? That is worse than the complete omission. If I just say nothing to anybody at least than it could be assumed I just never logged onto any social media that day. Of course, if they are they are that personality type that is constantly checking social media, that would be an inconceivable notion. They will assume I am purposefully snubbing them because how damn hard is it to write two friggin jolly words in a Birthday pop-up box.? They will surely assume I must really dislike them. Oh what a self-centered bastard they must take me for that I cannot type two little greeting-ish words in a ready to post handy dandy notification box. Like my time is sooooo important I can’t spare a few seconds to poke a few tiny keystrokes of well-wishing cheer for them once a year. They would most certainly think of me a thoughtless horrible egotistical self-absorbed cad.

On the other side, who are all these people that have accumulated in my Friends List? Are they part of the left over residue of my first MYSPACE page when I tried to collect people so it did not look so embarrassing that I only had six friends? Are they periphery work contacts from three jobs ago. Are they people that might have attended the same school as me but at that never acknowledged my existence?

What is my connection to these people. If the only time I even communicate with them is when I add to their once a year Birthday greeting totals, am I doing this because I care about them or because I want to feel loved when they hopefully reciprocate when my Birthday rolls around.  What is my motivation? Is it simply part of that gut reflex of being raised to be nice that was hammered into my head by my Mom and ever since had caused me to feel guilty if I am not friendly, don’t wave to my neighbors or go out of my way to stop to assist someone in need?

 

I don’t have the answers. I do know I skipped the last couple of school reunions. And I do try to wish everyone a Merry Birthday. Well at least I only know a handful of folks born in August.

reunion

REUNION DAN

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LIPSCHITZ & JOHNSON

I was talking to a client on the phone the other day. Before getting to real business we exchanged the usual mundane innocuous pleasantries about our ‘nice’ weekends, both of us feeling well and of course that old trite stand-by the weather. I even went over the top and slipped in that standard line ‘you know what they say about the weather here, if you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change!’ It was in my head since the night before my wife was making fun of the fact people say that everywhere. She was right.  No matter where they live, most folks seem to truly believe their town’s experience with the weather is unique from everywhere else.

Wait… sorry… I didn’t mean to give something away.  Are you one of those people that believes where you live is truly unique?  If so, maybe you also believe you’re work place has the craziest people. Or that the drivers are the worst where you are.  If I may, everywhere has weather that can change rapidly, every workplace contains crazy dysfunctional people and no matter where you go there are folks that drive like Helen Keller with narcolepsy trying to answer a text. Sure, slight colloquial differences and variations exist but basically people are the same all over. Oh yeah and Planet Of The Apes is Earth, Soylent Green is people, Tyler is the narrator in Fight Club, Darth Vader is Luke’s Dad and Wizard Of Oz is a dream.  I’m just giving everything away today.

There was another thing I wanted to mention on that business phone call but since our relationship had not really moved past the superficial banter phase I thought it best not to ask him if people had often made fun of his name.  Although not as bad as some elementary school role call sheet fake names like Jim Nasium, Lynn Nolium, Dick Hertz or Miter Ben Sturdy, the person’s name did include not one but two slang words for male genitalia. How do parents do that to their children? Please folks, before naming your kids, check it in Urban Dictionary.

Whenever I come upon funny names I always recall the stationary store on Jamaica Ave, near where I grew up, owned by the Lipschitz family. I am sure we were not the only brats that prank called those poor folks. They always answered the phone ‘Lipschitz Stationary’ to which we would reply with some Einstein line like ‘if your Lipschitz, my ass talks’. I didn’t say we were geniuses.

My business call got to the blah, blah, blah… words, words, words… part and my head did a ‘one thing leads to another’ drift. Right in front of that Lipschitz Stationary store was the first time I really saw someone get violently beat up. I have no clue about the back-story, but between the famous 1970s New York street gangs and the rather well-known mob presence in that neighborhood, young Dan knew to mind his own business as I witnessed two large grown men whipping the daylights out of a guy with heavy steel chains until eventually crashing him through the store’s glass and steel gated side entrance.

It was quick and there was no crowd watching. As a matter of fact, the busy sidewalk seemed to suddenly become ghostly vacant.  I was still a little shaken from recently having my bicycle stolen from me at knife point and there was no chance I was getting involved. Right or wrong, I disappeared too.

All these years later that angry act of violence is still with me in my head. My bad memory has managed to preserve that nugget perfectly. Back then there were no video games to desensitize you. No YouTube fight videos to make this seem common place. No cable TV or access to adult content movies. A description in the paper, a fuzzy brief shot of war on the evening news or even the occasional sloppy slug-fests in a schoolyard were not the same. This was different.

Nothing came of it. There was no write up in the next day’s paper. No buzz on the streets. The next time I was in that area, the glass had been fixed and looked like it never happened. Yet I was somehow different. New York was rough back then and stuff like that has fed into my daily paranoia and fears shaping my views on violence. It makes me look over my shoulder on a quiet street. I remember when my brother Arthur got mugged during the same era. I learned to separate your cash and wallet into different pockets, not to look obvious or wear something to make a target out of yourself.

I guess you never know what will shape or warp your view your universe. I mostly avoided physical fights growing up but was that due to experiences like this or that I was simply a big gawky wus.

I was not raised with violence in my home, so it just never seemed like the smart option. Dad yelled and screamed from time to time making it feel like it’s almost imprinted on my DNA that things can escalate up to that point but not passed it. Those gut reflex reactions of what is acceptable or not stick around your entire life and you only learn how far you will go when you suddenly find yourself dropped into one of those situations. Obviously, my line of what is acceptable behavior falls somewhere between making fun of the guy whose name consists of two slang words for a penis versus slugging him for it.

JAMACA AVE

JAMAICA AVE , QUEENS NEW YORK

 

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THE SEXUAL TIME MACHINE

I hope I am not breaking any unwritten guy’s code of honor or giving away some sacrosanct societal secret, but if any of you non-males were wondering, sometimes when men are talking with each other the topic of sex and who they would and would not want to have sex with, comes up. Yup. Shocking.  Okay, maybe it’s not that shocking but since the topic will arise in about five paragraphs I thought it best to just get the whole thing out in the wide open where everyone can throw rocks and sticks at it like a third-world blasphemer getting stoned in the town square.

I’m glad we got that blatantly obvious factoid cleared up.  Now I can move on with the usual embarrassing of myself.

The other night, even though my body was over-tired, my brain was way too wound up for sleep. I found myself in front of the computer playing YOUTUBE roulette. You know, where you initially search for one video and then you continue to watch all the next ones that automatically pop up. I assume the choices are based on some pasty-skinned computer programmer’s incredibly simple code and algorithm. I also assume said programmer is now very, very rich.

Initially I watched a video of the obscure one hit wonder 1960s band The Seeds lip syncing their sole garage rock hit Pushing Too Hard on the equally forgotten short-lived low rated sit-com The Mother’s In Law.  Groups in those days were not as cleaned, polished and media ready as those today. I admit I’ve always found great humor in watching uncomfortable young musicians with ill-fitting clothes and bad teeth poorly pretending to be playing live even when there are no microphones, guitar amps or patch cords to the equipment. After chuckling my way through that first very dated clip, I viewed a slew of other performances by hippy-ish  pop bands from that era mostly culled from teeny-bopper shows like American Bandstand or Shindig.

Eventually a film of The Mamas And Papas performing California Dreaming on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1968 came on.  This is around the time the band was breaking up and none of the four members even looks like they are trying to properly sing along with the pre-taped vocal track of their two-year-old hit. Even though her voice can be heard loud and clear, singer Michelle Phillips is actually eating a banana and not even holding a microphone during parts of the song. History might try to re brand the performance as ironic or psychedelic but it looks more like disinterest and boredom.

I know hunting out this crap is a twisted guilty pleasure of mine but you likely sit around watching just as embarrassing time-wasting crap too, just different time-wasting crap. Although technically alive, I was too young to have seen The Mama and Papas perform live but I ended up with some of their records when my older siblings moved out of the house. I always enjoyed the music but I must admit the album covers got my attention too.  Like many other red-blooded heterosexual testosterone-infused young American males before me, I too thought 1960s Michelle Phillips was attractive.  Really attractive.

Watching that Mamas And Papas video my head wandered and I remembered a conversation I had with a group of guys a long while back. Someone mentioned a current day picture of a famous model he had the hots for when he was a kid. In a very non-politically-correct way, he talked about her aging very poorly. Someone asked if he would still ‘do’ her and he replied ‘only with a time machine’. This steered the conversation to the following question. ‘If you had a sexual time machine that could transport you back in time, what one person from each decade would you choose to have sex with?’

Fraught with sexist and somewhat misogynistic overtones, the question also totally ignores the whole non-existence of time travel or the simple fact that the object of each dude’s decade desire, in their prime no less, would want to be ‘done’ by the sad and lumpy men in the conversation. But let’s overlook all of that and indiscriminately write it off as ‘locker room talk’ like Donald Trump had with Billy Bush.

The usual names popped up as we each cultivated our lists:  Marilyn, Farrah, Christie, Aniston…. but no one else had any of the same picks as me. No surprise. I was even mocked a bit for some of my choices but I just took it as yet another reminder that I see the world a bit differently.

We had a tough time once we started getting to the 1940s, so we added a cut-off date before tossing in wacky names like Joan Of Arc, Fanny Kemble and Cleopatra.  One guy was going to pick Jane Fonda for the 1960s but said he couldn’t because of her political leanings. We put our heads together and decided that since we were already suspending belief by involving a fictitious time machine, he could over-look her Vietnam stance since his carnal physical desire date was for Barbarella-era Jane Fonda, who had not yet gone public with her anti-government opinion. Time travel can be tricky stuff.

Before I confess my list, let me talk about the summer I was 13 years old. My parents and I spent a couple of months living in a Miami Beach hotel while my Dad was working a project. Across the street was an old delicatessen style restaurant called Wolfie’s that we went to a lot. They had framed pictures of glamorous old Hollywood stars on the wall and one night a picture of Judy Garland caught my eye.

As a kid, I never paid much attention to her looks when I watched the Wizard of Oz every year but raging-hormone young Dan suddenly noticed post-Dorothy Judy was pretty.  Very pretty… at least in that one photo. This was pre-computers and cell phones when young boys were content with just looking at the bra ads in the Sunday newspaper, so I could not just Google a zillion pics of her to see if she had really been that attractive. After that everytime we went to the restaurant I tried to position myself to surreptitiously examine the picture a little more.

Alright, I’m ready to take the heat, so here we go. Because of that damn framed photo, my 1940s pick was Judy Garland. Everyone else had Marilyn Monroe for the 1950’s except for me, I opted for Brigitte Bardot. My 1960’s option was Michelle Phillips, which is what reminded me of this whole damn thing. Embarrassingly enough, I hate to admit it but Suzanne Somers was my 1970s verdict.

About the only one of these I think my wife would have guessed was Bernadette Peters, my 1980s choice. My 1990s pick was the one that the guys laughed at me the most for. Instead of all the famous beauty Britney, Bundchen, Campbell and Schiffer options out there,  Dan picked Helen Hunt.  Maybe I just like five-heads.

So there you go. Dan’s sexual time machine picks.

Oh…

You say I have no picks for any decade past 2000?

Well the conversation was a long time ago and… well… I figure my wife is already going to pick on me about this list… so since I met her in 2000… I think it best to have her be my choice for those decades.

 

 

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DOES DORKINESS EQUAL HAPPINESS?

10-year-old Dan walked towards the small group of older boys that were sitting around in a circle. Although I knew them, I was not really friends but I approached because I recognized they were listening to side three of the Beatles White album on a bright colored plastic portable 8-track tape player. I’m sure I was adjusting my ever slipping very out-of-date horn-rimmed black eyeglasses and scratching my ever-present array of swollen red summer mosquito bites. My short greased down haircut most certainly stood out among the other’s groovy long early 1970s coiffures.  I opened my mouth full of shiny metal braces and asked the guys about the funny little cigarette they were passing around.

Not because they were protecting me from the evils of illegal marijuana, but more out of fear that an untrustworthy blabby little brat might tell an adult or worse their parents, one of them chimed in that it was just an ‘unusual brand’. The others laughed and quickly shooed dorky Lil’ Dan away. Proving my dorkdom, it literally was years and years later when it hit me that was my first exposure (obviously not experience) to drugs.

I mean, this was New York City during the early 1970s… drugs were everywhere! The only place and time in the universe more known for drugs was Miami in the early 1980s…. oh wait… I lived there too. Don’t worry scared and scarred readers, Dan did not become an addicted user /addict / junkie. No Sir, Ma’am or other, I was an oblivious dork.

I do not think it is any secret that I am a bit of a dork.  Unfortunately, you don’t grow out of Dorkism.  It’s not like all those other things that with no work you simply get past. Like everyone says babies are so beautiful but the truth is most new-borns look like a red slimy blob of ham slid out of those odd eggish-shaped corner-less metal cans. Luckily most (not all) quickly grow out of it and become pretty darn cute.

Most little boys have that odd year or two when their bodies are way out of proportion with unproportioned gangly arms and oversized heads protruding from their scrawny bodies looking a lot like those aliens stepping off the ship in Close Encounters. But most (not all) grow out of it. Even teenagers overwhelmed confused directionless during the hormones-gone-wild years somehow magically grow into somewhat productive adults that are just ever so slightly less overwhelmed, confused, and clueless.

But no, you don’t grow out of being a dork. Out of practice you might learn how to hide it better but deep down in your heart of hearts, no matter how successful, strong or suave you might become on the exterior, throughout the rest of your life whenever you look in the mirror a chunk of your brain will always cause you to see that little dopey dork.

Those little internal voices and feelings are what motivates some folks to strive for success and what causes others to never move out of their parent’s basement. Personally, I’m not looking to celebrate my inner-dork with banners and parades but I’m not really trying to hide it either. I mean, someone trying to keep dorkiness tendencies under wraps does not post 580 consecutive weekly blog posts about the foibles of their own life. Capiche?

That’s the perfect example. Who, besides a dork or 1970s TV tough guys like  Kojak or Mr.T  use term ‘capiche’?  Now if you need any other dork documentation please look at any photo taken of me between the ages six and sixteen or ask my wife, siblings or pretty much anyone that has had more than a passing conversation with me.

So that leads me to my point. Is there anything wrong with being a dork? Well aside from things like spending most of 8th grade being the butt of jokes or getting very used to receiving groans and eye-rolling responses to a lot of what I think are good attempts at humor, no, it’s not so bad. As an adult, I might still hear those groans but at this point I am kinda used to it. I recently read that nerds are this up-coming generation’s leaders with people like Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg having led the revolution of change. Where do dorks fall in the change of the guard.  My luck, still on the bottom.

DORKIEST OF DANS

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SHIFTING PLATES OF CONFUSION

So my wife was in India for a couple of weeks. I don’t get to say that everyday. Iowa, sure. India… not so much.  It was a business trip, so she worked most of the time but she did manage to slip away over the weekend to see some local sites. If you spend 18 hours or so on planes you want to see more than the inside of an office building and a hotel.

Now I will give her this, she might have visited some cool temples, museums, markets and a massive stone Buddha Dude plopped in the middle of a lake, but face it,  its no Guinness Book world-record sized moldy mondo popcorn ball like the one we accidentally stumbled upon in Sac City during our drive to Iowa last month. Come to think of it, that miserable rainy drive to Iowa took about the same amount of time as her flight across the world to India.

My wife is pretty well traveled and was excited to check another country off her ‘visited’ list. My version of that list is quite a bit shorter. From afar if you compare the two, my list looks like a post-it note with a few things scribbled to pick up at the market on the way home from work while my wife’s looks like Santa’s primary children of the world naughty vs nice scroll.

I am not even sure about some of the places on my list. You see, I’m not really positive I’ve been to the Asian continent or not. I know that sounds odd, but there seems to be some debate about where exactly Guam is… besides the middle of nowhere.

I lived on the island for several months and it seems no continent wants to claim it. I mean, I found Guam pleasant enough, especially if you like cock fights, pan-fried fruit bats, flying palmetto bugs bigger than your fist, rotting teeth stained red by constantly chewing on betel/areca nuts and boonie stomping down to the moderately unsafe, polluted Tanguisson Beach.   OK, cheap shot but Guam is kinda easy to make fun of.  Even the name sounds like something stuck on the bottom of an old Cajun man’s shoe. Truthfully though, there is some beautiful stuff there but my real point is, continent-wise,  where is the damn place.

Guam might be a U.S. territory but that just means its linked to North America by government. On the Island, like on Hawaii, they claim they are part of the Oceana Continent. Which I do not recall being on that list of seven that I learned about way, way back in school.

I do recall that the continents were formed by those big-ass shifty earth plates and… well… not much has changed in the last few dozen millennia. Although I could see some crazed conservatives from the east coast bombing the San Andreas fault in an effort to fulfill their dream of busting California off the side of North America to drift  and join one of the other six more liberal big-taxed, higher-minimum waged, lower pollution tolerant continents.

But back to Guam. So if we are saying the whole Oceana thing is a bit of a technical continent cop-out (like how they say cucumbers and cauliflower are technically fruits but have you ever actually seen either in a fruit salad?) and that it has to be lumped into one of the the real 7 continents, shouldn’t it belong to Asia?  I mean, no one argues that that Japan is part of Asia and its not that much longer a distance from Tokyo to Tamuning, the location of Guam’s airport, as it is from here in Dallas to the tiki themed pool-side bar my sister’s building in her Florida backyard.

To add to this confusion, I’ve also read that Guam is on the same continent as Australia / New Zealand, but that is a whole different hemisphere. Maybe I should ask my old friend Mickey.  Years ago he was a geophysicist at Columbia University before he got tired of being broke and moved across the North American Teutonic Plate to Seattle to become a slightly less broke computer nerd.

Personally I know as much about Teutonic plates as I do about bone china (is it made from real bones?), but I do recall there was 15 of them big ole’ Earth plates and that the Pacific plate covers Hawaii, Guam and New Zealand.  But that does not answer my continent questions and just confuses me more.   I seem to know just enough to really muddle things up. I am obviously much better with Continental Breakfast then Continental Divides.

I need to do more research on all of this. I mean, if I cannot even definitively tell you if Russia is part of the Asia or Europe continent,  how can I be expected to know if I have been to Asia?

Dan at Bondi 2014 ferry

DAN WAITING FOR A TEUTONIC PLATE RIDE TO ASIA

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