Friday, April 28, 2006

Goin' to Vegas

I’ll be out of town through Tuesday, May 2. My brother-in-law is getting married in Las Vegas, so we’re off to joust at the Excalibur.
I'll be "Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful."
(Where's that quote from, huh, Edsel? Anyone? I'm quite proud to have read the whole thing, and a little bit ashamed for how hooked I got on it. The line I quoted shows up often; it was starting to irritate me. It turns out I'm more of a nerd than I'd like to admit.)
Wish me luck keeping the kids reigned in.
There will be new stuff here on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, enjoy what I’ve put here so far (I tried to give a little extra – I’d say lagniappe, but I’m not from there – last night and this morning).

One-liner to go with Moral High Ground

J. Edgar Hoover liked to get on his (moral) high horse. But he rode side-saddle.

Moral High Ground

“For once in my married life, I was occupying the moral high ground, where the air was fresh and intoxicating.” – John Mortimer’s Rumpole

I’m off to go exploring.
I’ll leave off all my whoring.
Decrepitude is boring.
I’ll have a look around
On the moral high ground.

The moral high ground,
Where mistakes just can’t be found.
Self-righteousness abounds
On the moral high ground.

Leave the car, take the bike,
Or a calisthenic hike.
Only do what you dislike,
Then you’ll never run aground
On the moral high ground.

The moral high ground,
My head is light, my pulse - it pounds.
Aren’t there any cabs around
On the moral high ground?

My will now never bends.
“Means aren’t justified by ends!”
But where are all my friends
On the moral high ground?

The moral high ground,
Where the solitude astounds.
Yes, the lonely make their rounds
On the moral high ground.

We up here are always right.
But these others are uptight.
And they always pick a fight
On the moral high ground.

Oh, the moral high ground.
I am far too tightly wound.
Where’s the exit to be found
From the moral high ground?

- pg

Juggling to music

If you’ve got ten minutes, compare this with the original.

I, for one, was feeling guilty while watching the original because my attention lagged during the repeated verse (of a song I love, btw). And I was thinking to myself, “What kind of a schmo are you, not giving this guy’s hard work it’s fair due?”
But then it turns out he didn’t really work hard enough. Thank you for raising standards, Mr. Garfield.

I found the Garfield example by clicking on a link that said something like “Chris Bliss Parody.”
Odd. If I were to do a parody, I’d “juggle” to Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion.

Or with flaming torches to Brunnhilde's Immolation Scene.
Or, more simply, to John Cage's 4'33". As a matter of fact, I'm juggling to it right now.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

a favorite author

Someone recently asked my wife who my favorite author is. How do you answer that? It would have to be a writer who strikes such an agreeable chord in you that you will forgive his or her lesser efforts and still seek out more. I really can’t answer that question with a single name.
I will say this, though. I’m very much inspired by Roy Blount, Jr. As a matter of fact, he’s one of the main reasons I got hooked on WWDTM.
If he were ever to ask me to write a blurb for him, which is highly unlikely given my lack of fame and ensuing inability to help a book’s sales, I would say:

While other authors merely seek a taste of le mot juste, Roy Blount, Jr. serves up le mot au jus.

But now, looking at it, I’m not sure he didn’t write something along those lines himself. (Oooh, I’ve written myself into yet another problem. I’m either unwittingly plagiarizing him or unduly flattering myself.)

Speaking of blurbs,
the band he’s in is pretty good at writing them (and other things, too, obviously).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I’m still not free to tell everything about the taping of the final episode of the Food Network show, but I can say a few more things.
You may wonder why I, who has no access to TV, would be interested in seeing the taping at all (other than a chance to get away from the kids)?
While looking for a place to live in NY, our temporary housing had TV and cable. (As a matter of fact, until my wife blew my cover, I had the kids convinced that the TV showed nothing but the Food Network and the baseball playoffs.) Anyway, I had sent in an audition tape for this selfsame show. While I think I nailed the money shot of eating the final product with closed eyes, an orgasmic moan, and the smirking chew, the tape was dismal. I was exhausted from the apartment search, the kids didn’t give me an opportunity to rehearse, and even if I had had time to prepare, I know no “real” recipes, I just make stuff up as I go along. And the shows I wanted to pitch ran along the same lines.

Show 1. Cooking with kids
(Working title: Playing With Food - We Dance On The Table and Eat Off The Floor)
Get out the splat mat. Let kids pick bowls and three ingredients each. Let them have at it while you try to work on a recipe from a book.
When the kids start interfering, or when you realize you’re out of crucial ingredients (whichever happens first), set some water on the stove for pasta for the kids.
Pick up the phone. Call an Asian food place at random, order a number between one and fifteen as appetizer, something between thirty and eighty-five as entrée, and ask them to suggest a dessert.

Show 2. Gastronomic Adventure Tours
(after a bit by Gerhard Polt in which the narrator's husband eats human flesh which has unfortunately been prepared in the Dreaded Mint Sauce because of British colonialism)
A travel show in which the host eats the most outlandish foods possible. I didn’t know about Anthony Bourdain’s show yet, so I feel like a visionary.

Show 3. Late Night Food Talk
The Food Network needs to lecture less and entertain more. So I thought of inviting chefs and short-order cooks and famous people who haven’t had their stomach’s stapled yet and let them have at it, Bill Maher style.

Show 4. Literary Cuisine
(inspired by my former book club)
Pick a book, find something in it that the characters are eating, try to re-create it as authentically as possible, hunting with traps and plucking your own fowl, if necessary. Then get someone in to recommend what to drink with said item.
I’d be curious, for example, what a wine steward would recommend with Oliver Twist’s gruel.

Show 5. How To Eat
Watching people chew is the opening montage. Table manners are briefly addressed, but mostly it’s a show about meeting the body’s needs while meeting social needs as well.
It has become painfully clear to me, for example, that differing metabolisms require different frequencies of intake. (Observing the snacking habits of a 3-yr-old, a 6-yr-old, and a 35-yr-old with a hankering for chocolate, for example.) How could people possibly be hungry at the same time? And yet, we want to eat “together.” How different families and other social groups manage this would be the focus of this show.

Back to the taping:
When we got out of the studio, there was a desperate fan, waiting outside, needing “one more signature.” One of the people I was with almost blabbed. He didn’t mean to, he’s just a nice guy. Of course, he could have simply said, “Some Guy won” and been oh-so-smart about it. (See, the guy who won was Guy, get it? Eh.)
Speaking of “guys,” I noticed that the host used the grammatically incorrect PC “they” when referring to the potential winner. As in, something like, “When the winner is determined, they will have an opportunity to…” As awkward as this formulation is, I understand it to work as a shorthand for “he or she,” which is not only shorter, but also avoids giving primacy to either her or him. But in this case both finalists were male (not necessarily masculine, but gendered male), so “he” would have been fine, I think.
I belabor, but not needlessly. See, I’ve been itching for quite some time now to comment on an episode of This American Life, which did the same thing. The narrator said something about “the sperm donor” (singular) and then went on to say, “they.” Now that’s just silly, no?
Man, am I uptight. I’ve been saving this tidbit for how long? I should’ve been blogging sooner. It would have been out of my system ages ago.

I realized, though, how easily the show could’ve cashed in on the $750,000 premature disclosure fine. What if the fan was a plant?

Monday, April 24, 2006

cute kid stuff - skip if that sort of thing isn't for you

One of the billions of reasons why Madgie (6 ¾, in case you forgot) is so cool, this is an excerpt of her “All About Me” book, started in school today, finished at home at her desk, with the help of her little assistant, Coco (3 ¼).
(I will keep the original spelling and punctuation, and will supply clarifications in brackets.)
[First image:] What I look lik … /I have long yellow/ hair pink dresses/ and high heels/ and cowgirl boots/ and rain boots! I/ have slipers and/ snow boots and/ some … Comfy Shoes!
[Second image:] I have one broth-/er and No Sist-/ers! I have no pets/ becase my cat di-/ed becase ……. It was/ Old! My brother/ has short blond/ hair!!!!!! His favrite/ coler is blue!!!!!
[Third image – the sideways Rothko:] I’ell let you have t-/here [three] chances/guesses/ ok people? Good lets/ continue you had/ there [three] chances\gusses/ right? My favrite/ colers are ……………/ PINK AND/ PURPLE!!!!!!

And, as a kicker for all Madge fans, a typical moment in our home. I’m off-stage, folding laundry (really).
Phone rings.
Madge: I’ll get it! – Hello? – Julie Norris isn’t here. She’s still at work. – There is no Mr. Norris. There’s a Mr. Goedicke. – Why don’t you just leave a message? – Okay. Bye.
All in a sing-songy Schweikian “naïve sincerity.” (The descriptor in quotes, by the way, is also from the mystery book and author from the last quiz. Does that help any?)

one of my typical, awkward situations

Me: walking across Fifth Ave. at Third St. carrying a terrarium filled with dirt, a handful of “caracoles” and a slug.
You: African-American male, 40ish, shaved head, goatee, in your green SUV at the red light, shouting out the window.
“Oh-da fith shree!”
Me: stopping in a puddle, looking confused and uncomfortable but politely encouraging, but also panicking a bit. (What? Fourth and Fifth Street? Is there such a thing? I’m new here. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just forty-fifth he’s asking for, but he’s not even close yet, so why is he stopping to ask? And why ask me? Is there no one else he can ask?)
You: “Foh-a Fith Shree!”
Me: pointing in the direction the SUV is headed anyway. (45th Street? What does he want to know about it? He just came from Second and is now at Third. What, exactly is the question? Directions, I guess.) “That way. About, uh, forty-two more blocks.”

You: “How far? Four blocks?”
Me: finding it very difficult in my awkward confusion to not sound condescending and wry and therefore feeling even more uncomfortable and intimidated. I’ve been physically threatened for less, after all. “Well, you’re at Third Street. So, uh, forty-two more, I guess.” Even though I was trying to sound genuine, I knew right away that my delivery of that line was to slow and hesitant to be taken as kind words of assistance. So I took off, caracoles and all.
Forgive me.

And, continuing yesterday’s late, broken review of The Aristocrats, I must amend something. I had been debating with myself about calling it a movie or a documentary, and something about the feel of it made me call it a movie. Maybe because it seemed more performance than presentation. Okay so far. Just clarifying. I’ve been looking at Penn Jillette’s blog about the creation of the movie and have noticed that a few of the performers hadn’t heard the joke before being filmed by Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza. And yet I stick to what I said about the performers not being dishonest or duplicitous. All of the performances are true to the personality of the teller of the joke. None of the performers give the impression of changing who they are in order to please the filmmakers. (If you’ve seen it and want to write to me about Stephen Wright’s contribution, I might concede something, but I don’t want to tear down one of my comedic idols just because of an odd setting.) Anyway, that was all just an aside for completeness’ sake.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


I know I’m way behind the times, but I recently saw “The Aristocrats.”
You may ask yourself, “How good can a documentary about the telling of one joke be?”
The answer is, Better.
Okay, the joke itself? Well.
For those few who haven’t seen or heard anything about the movie or joke:
A guy goes into a talent agent’s office and tries to get a booking. He performs the act (usually a family act), which is as gross, shocking, bizarre, crazy, and offensive as the teller can make it. Then the agent asks, “And what do you call your act?”
And I won’t give away the punch line because I’m not a spoiler.
Feel the suspense.
I’d go into detail about the movie’s greatness, but I’d just be rehashing old points about the joy, the camaraderie, the silliness, and the desire to simultaneously repulse and befriend with the most outrageous thing the comic mind can think of. See it, see it again, explore the DVD’s special features.
If you’re easily offended by strong language, get over it and appreciate the fact that none of these performers is being dishonest or duplicitous. They love comedy and they see this lame joke as an opportunity to show their talents.
Enough praise. Here’s why I bring the whole thing up. Lately I’ve been playing this little game with myself (by myself, I mean). I pick a random person I see in my daily amblings and imagine this person telling the joke, complete with accents, shyness, quirks, and graphic personal details. It always makes me chuckle.
You should try it. It’s a variation on the advice people give for overcoming fear of public speaking. Instead of imagining your audience without clothes, imagine them telling the joke.
Or just say, “This guy goes into a talent agent’s office…”

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Another quiz

Okay, this is what is generally called a lazy post, I think.
It's another literary contest. This time, it's a whole sentence, not just two words. You get to guess the author again. (It wasn't short story, and I'm not actually done with the book, but the sentence stuck out.) Good luck:

Only the scum of the population do it [i.e., abuse or oppress a Chinaman] -- they and their children; they, and, naturally and consistently, the policemen and politicians, likewise, for these are the dust-licking pimps and slaves of the scum, there [i.e., in California] as well as elsewhere in America.

Subtle, huh.
Chris, I'm counting on you to get it, unless Eggshell noses you out (Go, Edsel!).
Same prize, of course. What else do I have, to offer? (I'm worried about that last comma, but I think it works.)

Friday, April 21, 2006


Because of a non-disclosure contract I had to sign I can’t really tell you the details of what I saw today. We don’t have a TV, so most of what I saw didn’t make much sense to me anyway, as my generous new friend who made today’s “adult time” possible can attest.
“Who’s that?”
“That’s [don’t tell, Philipp].”
“Why are we cheering for h[xx]?”
“Because [tsk, tsk].”
“Oh, I know h[xx]! Isn’t that [hey!]?”
“Yes. And that’s [cut it out] right there.”

After Sunday I’m free to tell you most of it, I guess. Let’s just say I saw people do things while cameras were recording both those doing things and those reacting to the things being done. And said. Sometimes even repeated, because of retakes. I think I’m allowed to tell you that I was made to cheer in differing degrees and that my arms got quite tired from applauding. But I held out, like a trooper. (“Whooo! I’m involved in the magic of TV! Yay! I’m almost two steps removed from having a chance of being nearly famous in an obscure niche market!”)

Oh, and guess the color of the greenroom. Green, but only because the show’s logo is. (Common knowledge, right? I’m not in trouble for that, right?)

Anyway, while waiting in said holding area – an activity most budget flyers will be familiar with – we were told to be very quiet at one point. The director said, “Big quiet.”

For some reason, I immediately thought of the emendation, “Anne Frank quiet.” But I had the good sense not to say it out loud. (It was the one time in my life where I was quite confident I’d get a laugh, and I opted to be nice instead. Only my wife, I think, will truly appreciate that.)

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I'm still figuring out the image thing. Bear with me.

I thought trimming the picture(s) might reduce the file size. It didn't. Maybe if I change the resolution or pixellation or whatever it's called... But I have no idea how to do that.

Anyway. Notice how the first lion seems to be in a fog. Lest you think GirlChild is only brilliant and not a child, I'll inform you that it was a bright, clear day when I took that picture. I just happened to have let GirlChild take some pictures and hang on to the camera for a while. It took me about thirty-seven pictures to realize that the vaseline-like soft focus effect was due to residual sunscreen, soft serve ice cream, and varied sources of general kid effluvia, and not any supernatural phenomena.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


As the members of my family know, Wednesday night is Limerick Night. It sounds like a bar promotion I'd shy away from, but it happens to be what I do.
Well, I also schlep two kids around. Currently I do this the entire day because they're both on Spring Break - which has entirely different dimensions for the three- and six-year-old crowd.

(Though, if I may mention this in an aside, the dimensions took an awkward turn this morning when BoyBoy woke up with a bit of a, well... and came out of his room screaming, "Make it SMALLER, make it SMALLER!" Now, it's impossible to explain anything in detail to a three-year-old, let alone one who is screaming about problems some people wish they had. But GirlChild tried anyway, patient angel that she can be, saying some unintentionally and awkwardly flattering things about me and then explaining to him that he's growing and he's going to be a big boy just like his daddy and that this is what he wants, right? A valiant, but ultimately unsuccessful effort, partially thwarted by unexplained parental snickers and snorts. Things eventually calmed down after the focus was diverted by some shiny object or other.)

Anyway, I was trying to say that today's post (and Wednesday posts in general) would be shorter than usual. I was just going offer up a cute quote I found somewhere and get out. Here's the quote:

Many women want to dream with men, while not sleeping with them. One shall expressly alert them to the impossibility of this endeavor.
- Karl Kraus

That's it for today. Off to rhymeland.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Me 'n' New York

I’m still new enough to New York to find these posters in restaurants weird. Who did Henry Heimlich (his parents should have gone with the full German name Heinrich Heimlich) have to bribe to get this kind of publicity? Really, the posters are displayed anywhere you eat, showing something for which my mother would have scolded me. “Philipp! Not at the table.” “Why, mom?” “Because I said so.” “But” “Sorry.”
I’m just wondering why they don’t just put up signs that say, “Chew Your Food!” or, “Masticate, dammit!”
I guess New Yorkers are in too much of a hurry.
Which reminds me. Those signs telling employees (and customers, indirectly) to wash their hands: what are they doing by the sink? Shouldn’t they be by the urinals or on the door?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bleedin' Colors

Not surprisingly, some former generals are defending Rumsfeld:
Richard Myers, a prominent former air force general who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs during the invasion of Iraq, defended Donald Rumsfeld on Sunday, saying that the secretary of defense had given military leaders "tremendous access" for presenting their views […]
Myers said. "I mean, we gave him our best military advice, and I think - and that's what we're obligated to do.
"If we don't do that, we should be shot."

As it is, other people get shot.

This reminds me, apropos of nothing, that I saw a U.S. flag sticker in a window in my neighborhood with the following caption underneath it: “These colors don’t run.”
(If I’d had my camera that day, I’d have taken a picture. But I didn’t and I forgot the location. Sorry, you’ll have to take my word.)
My first thought on seeing this was, “How clever.” But that thought immediately gave way to, “Wait a second. That’s not the metaphor you want, because …”
If I were the type to write a protest song I might write something like this:

The red, white, and blue.
Do those colors stay true?
Can you wash them as much as you need?
Like your freshly scrubbed sons
With their new, oiled guns,
These colors don’t run
But they bleed.

We are stuck in Iraq
And there’s no turning back.
It seems some folks don’t want to be freed.
No, the shooting’s not done
In the hot desert sun,
But our colors don’t run
They just bleed.

Those Washington suits
Do not wear combat boots.
They think dry-cleaning always succeeds.
Rumsfeld shouts, “Atten-Shun!
Blast the dirt! Have some fun!”
No, these colors don’t run
But they bleed.

Me 'n' my Precocious Kid

So what if she, at age six, can read Harry Potter books "inside her head" or that she whizzed through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a day and a half.
What makes her parents truly proud is that she can not only stay focused through the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, but also ask pertinent questions, such as, "Why do they show him taking a bath?" or "Why is he jumping in the water?"
The kid's a genius.
Oh, but that hardly compares to the way the parental breast swells when she laughs at the right places in The Crimson Pirate.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hell's Bells

These guys look like shrunken storm troopers, don’t they? Or bikers who’ve been thumped on the head.
Really, they’re one of the many rings of hell that Dante’s editors wisely took out. Dante used to have 173 ½ (the half was the one bad peanut in an otherwise fine batch), but his editor told him that no college professor would find any significance in this number. And, besides, nine rings could be easily worn on two hands; anything more than ten would be wasteful.
Dante: Oh, you’ve got to leave it in. It’s more torment than any sulphuric eyewash.
Editor: How so?
Dante: Look, I’ve got two kids in the house and these things just appeared. And the kids just whang away at them non-stop.
Editor: So?
Dante: So? So, they’re tuned about a half step apart and when the kids go at it, it sounds like a scratched CD skipping on the “dan-ke” of Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen.” The live version.
Editor: Now, see? As your editor I’m going to have to point out that this information is way beyond your time. You couldn’t possibly know about it.
Dante: Talk to the hand. The point is, this is true suffering.
Editor: But remember the theme. What sin deserves this torment?
Dante: Procreation! I tell you, it’s the root of all evil.
Editor: You may be a little too close to this matter. Who are you putting in the 112th ring of hell? The procreators, the bells, or the children?
Dante: Oh, uh, the bells, of course. The parents are already being punished.
Editor: And how do you propose the bells to be punished?
Dante: Oh, uh, by having to listen to … Oh. How about if they’re the torment for people who sing along to their iPods in public?
Editor: Getting there. Let’s mark that and set it aside. Now, about those people who insist you eat all the food on your plate and then call you fat in the same breath…

Me 'n' my quiz idea

I finished reading a short story today.
I’m so proud.
Anyway, I looked up two words while reading it, and, glancing at them again, I think they’re fairly representative of the author. So I thought of a little quiz. I give you the words and you guess the author's style. They are:

Shoat; hieratic.

Cool, huh? (Of course I only had to look them up to make sure they really meant what I thought they meant, I mean I’m not ignorant of them, especially in context, and anyway, even if I were – ignorant of them, that is – that’s no sin, is it?)
The prize? First person to guess the author wins an occasional poem from me (yay!). You get to determine the theme or content or whatever.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Me 'n' Equiponderance

I wrote earlier that I’ve fallen in love with “equiponderant.” So I’m trying to act on this love, but she seems to be resisting my advances.

Of course the pubescent lobe of my mind thinks of various body parts that could be equally weighted, and that brings the following nursery rhyme to mind:

Dame Equiponderance rides into town
In a cart drawn by two sleek, white horses.
And the cobblestone streets make her bounce up and down.
See those two equiponderant forces?

I may have to demote my declaration of love for that fine lass to a fleeting crush. A fling, maybe. She never calls. Well, that’s not true. She returns calls if I call first. But that’s not enough for me.

So, let this fling last while it may. There’s equiponderant and there’s preponderant; there ought to be a postponderant as well. Maybe a heavily weighted afterthought. Postponderance, a sort of mot d’escalier, trepwort (if I understand the French and the Yiddish). In English, we say, “If only I’d said.” That thought would be postponderant.

And, finally, since my mind is already stuck on things being equal:

“All things being equal, …”
Gives voice to a small-minded thought.
You know that in its sequel
The speaker claims skills he’s not got.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Me 'n' my picture

So now this picture is here. How do I get it to the about me section again?
[ten minutes and two hang-nails later:]
Aw, too bad, it seems to be too complicated a picture for the space available. 50 whatchamacallits.
Well, I guess I should say something witty about it.
I was going to point out that I'm a Leo. I am.

I've been haphazardly taking pictures of building ornaments (lions in particular) around here, but haven't kept track of where exactly they were.
Of course this endeavor is to be followed up with a book project. Never fear, the quest for remuneration is never far behind.

Me 'n' Sammy, a blogging pioneer

So, pretty cool, huh. Another blog out there. Or in here.
I guess this is my equivalent of a mic check. One, two; one, two. Test. Test.

I had grand ambitions to reinterpret Samuel Johnson's first essay for The Rambler, an early paper-type blog deal sans links, methinks. But I don't think I can do any better than he, so I'll just quote him.
Let me just say why I went to his essays, never having read any of them before today: I have been haunted by a vague memory of a quote of his, something about blockheads and writing and money and the lack of receiving any. Blogs are giving stuff away, right? And writers want to get paid, no? Eees a puzzlement.
Anyway, I've also been held up by a lack of a plan, or, rather, too many plans, for which I have high expectations, but also fear they might fail. I want to brag and apologize at the same time. And this my newfound friend Sammy has covered:

But whether my expectations are most fixed on pardon or praise, I think it not necessary to discover; for having accurately weighed the reasons for arrogance and submission, I find them so nearly equiponderant, that my impatience to try the event of my first performance will not suffer me to attend any longer the trepidations of the balance.

(Okay, I really just wanted to quote that because I have fallen in love with the word equiponderant. Mental note: use in spoken sentence without sounding like a complete pouphe.)
So, consider this blog launched. We'll see what happens.