Wit remit

2012: the year in Facebook status updates. (Previously: 1, 2.)

  • [After a visit to New York.] If I lived in Manhattan I’d eat at Grey’s Papaya for lunch every goddamned day.
  • Is it my imagination, or did bananas used to be easier to begin peeling?
  • Who is the mad genius who first came up with chicken-fried bacon?
  • Tonight I had the opportunity to say, “I remember Husker Du.” But no one got the joke.
  • Once again I am near a drug store and can’t for the life of me remember what I’m supposed to pick up at the drugstore.
  • When I shave, the beard goes first, then the mustache. The sides of the mustache go before the middle. There’s always a moment of micropanic: “If I’m interrupted RIGHT NOW, I’ll look like Hitler.”
  • The Arby’s on El Camino in South San Francisco is straight out of a David Lynch movie.
  • When I start a band, our first album will be called, “Reboot the Franchise.”
  • Of all the songs to get stuck in my head — “Non Dimenticar”? Really?
  • If I ever open a beauty salon, I’m calling it Fiat Looks.
  • Is anyone else troubled by the fact that Anonymous is now a name?
  • Nothing against Donald Sutherland, but Robert Culp would have made a _perfect_ President Snow.
  • What are some things that have made you say, “Now I’ve seen everything”? For me, one was seeing competitive goat-pantying at the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association rodeo this past weekend. Yes: a team of two gay rodeo cowboys putting panties on a goat as fast as they can.
  • [When Rush Limbaugh called a woman a slut for wanting contraceptives covered by her health plan.] Outspoken conservative blowhard says something outrageous. Entire liberal world goes apeshit — playing right into his hand. What else is new.
    • I can just imagine Limbaugh’s latest performance review. “We haven’t had a major dust-up in a while, Rush. Come up with something quick, and it better be a good one.”
  • Here’s my problem with Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (besides too many colons in the title). The premise is, the team’s on a mission that goes horribly wrong, so they’re “disavowed” and are then completely on their own for completing it, as if that’s a big deal. But that’s the normal state of affairs for the Impossible Mission Force. “If any of your team is caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions” means you’re ALREADY ON YOUR OWN.
  • I spent decades joking that I ought to start needing glasses any day now, like all the other people around me who spend all their time on computers. Now that I finally actually _do_ need glasses, I’m experiencing outrage every time I can’t see something clearly just by pointing my eyes at it like I’ve always done.
  • Though Geraldine played hard to get, Geraldo knew he’d woo her yet.
  • New txting shorthand: LOLMCWWU. (Laughing out loud making coworkers wonder what’s up.) Help spread it!
  • Lessons of middle age: you can eat after 9pm, or you can sleep through the night, but not both.
  • Paid for coffee and croissant at Peet’s with my phone. Magic! Japan says: welcome to the 90’s.
  • Today’s puzzle-of-the-day-calendar puzzle was an algebra word problem: some friends have to chip in for a cake, but then some back out and the remaining friends have to pay more, etc. I read it to my kids and asked, “Does either of you know how to approach this problem?” Archer didn’t miss a beat: “Sneak up on it from behind.”
  • Nowadays every night / Flashes by at the speed of light
  • I’m a muppet of a man [Followed by one of my favorite-ever status replies: “I KNEW it!”]
  • I holler, you holler, we all holler for challah bread.
  • The latest craze at home: vintage Gilligan’s Island episodes on Amazon Prime. I didn’t remember just how sweet Mary Ann was on Gilligan, or how much Ginger teased the Professor. Hot stuff!
  • The eternal paradox: the number of different keys in which a group of people sing Happy Birthday together is always greater than the number of people singing.
  • The law of conservation of behavior: When one child is in big trouble, the other one behaves himself really well.
  • Five years no mom.
  • Of course I’m thrilled that Obama came out in support of gay marriage. But if he fails to tie that support to a broader narrative about fairness and justice, he’ll be missing a real opportunity to educate a nation that wouldn’t recognize civics if it ran up and bit them on the ass.
  • Thanks Joss, that was awesome.
  • I was deeply unhappy after seeing 2010’s deplorable “Piranha 3D.” But I gotta hand it to the filmmakers, they got the sequel name right: “Piranha 3DD.”
  • A paradox: the man who knows he’s no better than anyone else, actually is.
  • Folding cardboard “gable-top” milk and juice cartons: They worked fine for generations, and were biodegradable to boot. Adding a plastic spout to them is like mounting a steering wheel on the back of a horse’s head. Yes, it works; yes, it makes one device resemble a similar but more modern one. But what problem does it solve, exactly?
  • Superficially, Moonrise Kingdom sounds a lot like 1979’s Rich Kids: 12-year-old lovers spy on/flee from clueless parents whose relationships are in shambles.
  • Every Tuesday there’s a meeting. If the president names someone at that meeting, that person dies. Tell me again why we rebelled against King George III?
  • Goodbye Ray Bradbury. Thanks for the mind-expanding dreams and nightmares both.
  • [For my nephew.] Your twenty-first birthday today! / But drinking would be so cliche / So I recommend / Surprising your friends / By having a cafe au lait
  • I keep waiting for star systems to start slipping through the fingers of the tightening grip of conservatism, and it keeps not happening.
  • “I know all about yer standards and if ye don’t mind my sayin’ so there’s not a man alive who could hope to measure up to that blend o’ Paul Bunyan, Saint Pat, and Noah Webster ye’ve concocted for yerself out o’ yer Irish imagination, yer Iowa stubbornness, and yer liberry full o’ books.”
  • Two episodes in on “The Legend of Korra” (on Amazon Instant Video). To my pleasant surprise it is shaping up to be a worthy successor to “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
  • Prometheus: among the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I don’t get that many date nights with the wife. Why was I not duly and unambiguously warned? Film critique profession, you have failed me.
  • [For my niece.] Birthday limerick! “There once was a girl named Mckenna / Who wanted to visit Vienna / The airfare was high / So rather than fly / She sent herself there by antenna.” Happy birthday Mckenna!
  • A couple of days ago, Andrea did something out of character for her: she started humming a TV theme song. It was the theme from The Andy Griffith Show. Today Andy Griffith died. For $50,000 she will hum another TV theme song of your choice.
  • Saw Rocky again last night, first time in forever. No wonder it launched Stallone into stardom. Considering what followed, it’s a surprisingly sincere, authentic, big-hearted character drama. Everything’s fresh, nothing’s cliche (yet). The best friend is actually a jerk. The slimy loan shark is actually sympathetic. The wise old trainer is actually just an embittered opportunist. Even the training montage isn’t just a training montage — it was THE ORIGINAL training montage, included because it helped show character development, not depict mere training like all the training montages that have come since (including in Rocky sequels).
  • Goodbye to Donald Sobol, the man who taught me that opposite faces on a standard die always add up to 7 (and who figured out how to hang a mystery on that fact).
  • This must be a milestone of some sort: while Jonah was drinking a glass of milk yesterday, Archer got him to spit it onto the table with the well-timed display of his cartoon drawing “lady with big naked boobs.”
  • All those damn seeds in my teeth. How does anyone like raspberries?
  • [After the movie-theater shooting spree in Colorado.] One of the great sorrows of life is having to learn how to live in a world where events like the Aurora shooting not only can happen, but do with some regularity.
  • No one is allowed to make movie sequels ever, except for James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
  • [More about Aurora.] I have a GREAT idea. Every now and then, when a handful of our young people are senselessly murdered and maimed, let’s give the killer all the notoriety he was seeking, let’s utter the same platitudes and rote expressions of grief as the last time, and let’s change nothing at all. Because America’s perfect just as it is!
  • How many lovely afternoon naps have been ruined by a telemarketer or a wrong number? And yet do I ever silence the ringer? No, of course not, because that would mean I was actually thinking.
    • It’s too much to hope that if I’m thinking enough to silence the ringer before my next afternoon nap, I will also be thinking enough to turn it back on when I wake up.
  • Thanks Suzanne Glickstein, you were right: Safety Not Guaranteed was a great movie.
  • Oh my God does “Weird Al” Yankovic put on a good show.
  • Archer just performed as Don John in Act I, Scene 3 of Much Ado About Nothing at the conclusion of three weeks of Shakespeare camp. He was amazing.
  • The word “iconic” is hereby off limits. You all just can’t be trusted with it.
  • [After watching the season 5 episode, “Dead Freight.”] The writers of Breaking Bad are twisted and brilliant.
  • Have seen all three of the Marin Shakespeare Company’s productions for this season (kids too!) and have loved them so much we’re about to see one of them again.
  • “There _is_ no William Windom.” “DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT? THERE WAS, BUT NOT ANYMORE!”
  • In. Stop. Park. Walk. Yield. Enter. Exit. One way. Jane Street. Jones Street. Park Avenue. No right turn. No left turn. What can he do? Gas. Car wash. Subway. Don’t walk. No parking. Tow-away zone. Uptown. Downtown. First Avenue. Home sweet home!
  • Recently I was craving a bottle of beer, only the phrase that kept popping into my head was the old-timey expression, “I could murder a bottle of beer.” What’s up with that?
  • If I ever open a pho restaurant, I’m going to call it Pho-nom-e-nom.
  • [After reading the Vanity Fair article about the stunning craziness surrounding Tom Cruise and his marriages.] Just imagine all the stories about Scientology that don’t leak.
  • “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
    With silent lips.
  • One great thing about the vastness of space: years and years of “Voyager nearing the edge of the solar system” articles, and all of them are right.
  • Huh. Varicose veins. Getting older is awesome. [Andrea later informed me they’re merely spider veins.]
  • Since hearing the news about Neil Armstrong I have had an irresistible craving for Tang.
  • [On 9/11/2012.]A detail I remember from 9/11/2001: a majority (or so it seemed) of the eyewitnesses lacked any language for describing the sight of the catastrophe other than variations of, “It was just like a movie.”
  • [For my friend Joelle.] I wanted to write something clever for your birthday but couldn’t think of anything. J’oh well.
  • The BBC’s “Sherlock,” apart from being excellent in itself, really rewards viewers who are familiar with the original canon.
  • Even an outlandish premise can make for a good movie, if the internal logic is coherent and the other elements add up; and I’m a willing suspender of disbelief. Afterward, if the movie was crap, I will gladly blame its stupid premise if it’s warranted; but it’s the rare film whose premise I can’t grant up front. So help me, I just cannot make myself pretend to believe in cars and trucks that turn into giant battling anthropomorphic robots. [Followed by another great status reply: “But they turn into giant robots that fight! Did you not get that?”]
  • Which one of us is the one we can’t trust? You say “I think it’s you,” but I don’t agree with that.
  • Earlier, someone asked me if today’s date was the fourth of October. In confirming that it was, I failed to answer, “10-4.” #regret
  • The International terminal at San Francisco Airport has six main entrances. They are prominently labeled “DOOR 01” through “DOOR 06.” What exactly are the leading zeroes accomplishing there?
  • Guys: When you get a Facebook friend request from a hot-looking woman you don’t know, whose Friends List is all men, and you accept it, be aware that the Friends List is really a gallery of pathetic losers, and now you’re on it too.
  • In 1988, I was annoyed that the movie “Beetlejuice” used dumbed-down spelling in its title because audiences would have had no idea how to pronounce Betelgeuse. Now I work for “Google.”
  • [On my birthday.] So this is 46. I have GOT to learn to stop asking my knees to do things they haven’t been capable of for years.
  • [Also on my birthday: the Giants won the pennant.] What a nice birthday gift the Giants just gave to me, personally!
  • Everyone who knows comedy agrees that Bob Newhart was a groundbreaking comic genius. That may be true, and I have my own fond memories of being entertained by him, but don’t make the mistake I made, of putting those memories to the test by watching a 1972 episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Unwatchable with 2012 eyes.
  • My most vivid fantasy is to spend a weekend with a reincarnated scientific luminary from the past, bringing him up to date on advances in science and technology that he’s missed. Does that make me weird?
  • With John Michael Higgins’ performance in Pitch Perfect, this generation has finally found its Fred Willard.
  • [Birthday limerick for my friend Greg.] “About a fine fellow named Greg / Folks said he’s a pretty good egg / There most men would end / But women append: / I wish he would show some more leg.”
  • [Hurricane Sandy struck while my sister Suzanne was visiting from NY.] It’s Suzanne’s birthday, and if you ever doubted how awesome my sister is, I direct your attention to the tantrum that New York is throwing due to her absence for a mere day. Other people leave the city now and then, and they don’t shut down the subway!
  • [On Suzanne’s birthday.] The Giants won the pennant for my birthday. They won the World Series for Suzanne Glickstein’s birthday. Happy birthday, sis!
  • [After Disney acquired LucasArts.] OK Disney, this is your big chance to get on the fans’ good side. GREEDO DID NOT SHOOT FIRST. Make it right. The power is yours.
  • Stupid Subway. I asked for a 6″ Cold Cut Combo with mustard, mayo, and lettuce, not a 6″ Cold Cut Combo with mustard, mayo, lettuce, and bacteria.
  • [In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.] In nine months there are going to be so many babies.
  • [Election day.] Think of that big idiot you know, the one with the deplorable politics. The responsibility for canceling out that dummy’s misguided vote — by casting your own tomorrow — is yours and yours alone. Everyone else has their own idiot to cancel.
  • [The next day.] It’s almost like the whole campaign never happened. (*checks shower for Patrick Duffy*)
  • [Hostess bankruptcy.] Be honest. How many Twinkies have you bought lately? It’s all your fault.
  • [Almost identical to a sentiment posted earlier in the year. I must have really meant it.] Opportunities for sleeping in are so few. You’d think I’d have learned by now to unplug the phone before bed.
  • I know more than I ever cared or expected to know about Transformers — names, personalities, capabilities — and it occurred to me, this is not very different from the days I knew more than I ever cared or expected to know about Thomas the Tank Engine. Transforming trainbots battling for control of the island of Sodor — that’s something I’d pay to see.
    • Sir Tophamus Hattron: “You have caused confusion and delay. Prepare to be destroyed!”
  • That frisson of outrage when Angry Birds ends your level just as the last pig is about to fall.
  • Help me, children of the 70’s: a memory popped into my head today of a watery orange drink we used to get all the time from the school cafeteria and/or ice cream trucks. It wasn’t orange juice, it wasn’t Tang, and it wasn’t soda. It probably came in half-pint cartons. What was it? [One friend came through: It was Sun-Dew. Another replied, “I just had a total sense memory when I read the name Sun-Dew. It was not a good feeling.”]
  • I am below [symbolic weight threshold] for the first time in years. Eliminating sweets, soda, and salty snacks actually works — like, immediately. Who knew?
  • Just spent a fair chunk of my Sunday going back through the Facebook timeline of Steven Stern, curator par excellence, building a YouTube playlist out of all the videos he’s ever shared.
  • [After the shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut.] Back-of-the-envelope calculation: if the federal government offered to purchase every privately owned firearm for its fair market value plus $1,000, and if 50% of gun owners took advantage of this offer, it would cost about 100 billion dollars, or about 11% of what we already spend on national security.
  • [More about Newtown.] Somewhere in America, right now, NRA lobbyists are hard at work, calculating how to contain the damage, keep lawmakers in line, and fan the suspicious belligerence of their base.
    • That they are in crisis mode right now is a testament to the great job they did last time around.
  • Today I am fully one month ahead-of-plan toward my weight-loss goal. I am *not* going to celebrate with a cupcake.
  • All these interview candidates with impressive CS degrees and high-powered-sounding programming jobs at big companies you’ve heard of, and barely one in twenty can code worth a damn.
    • …which is what I call “job security.”
  • Here’s what bothers me about the latest idea in pop cosmology: that we’re living inside a giant computer simulation. First, it suffers from if-the-only-tool-you-have-is-a-hammer problem: in our modern age we are inclined to see computers everywhere. But more importantly, it does nothing to answer the question, “What is the nature of reality?” I mean, if _our_ reality is in some cosmic information processing device somewhere, it only begs the question, what is the nature of the reality containing that device?
  • I’m not the same man I used to be. Time was, the line from It’s a Wonderful Life that best spoke to me was George Bailey railing against the forces keeping him in Bedford Falls: “I want to do what *I* want to do!” Now, merely contemplating watching that movie again, the thought of hearing Mary say, “Remember the night we broke the windows in this old house? This is what I wished for” causes my throat to close right up and my vision to go all watery. I blame Andrea Glickstein.
  • Pendiculating.
  • [On 12/21/2012, which we now know wasn’t the end of the world.] Eating like there is a tomorrow.
  • It is better to give than to receive. Proof: as happy as my childhood memories of Christmas are, they’re nothing compared to the feeling I get from making new happy childhood Christmas memories for my kids.

Mercy rhyme 2

Well this is turning out to be an odd specialty: writing clever poems to cheer up young women as they recover from serious injuries sustained in major disasters. (Previously.)

This time it was a cheerful colleague from YouTube named Sara. She received serious burns in a very narrow escape from a devastating apartment fire last week in San Francisco. Being YouTube, a lot of us recorded a get-well video for her. My message was the following poem.

To show that I care a
Lot about Sara
I’ve placed in my hair a
Silver tiara.

Does she rail and swear a-
Gainst chance so unfair, a
Cause for despair? Uh,
Never our Sara.

With her savoir faire, a
Smile she does wear. “Ah,
C’est la guerre” a-
Nnounces our Sara.

And here’s Sara at the hospital yesterday, reacting to her video greeting:

News haiku

In addition to miscellaneous status updates I also post “news haiku” from time to time, originally on a now-defunct site my sister was involved with, then to Facebook and more recently to Google+. Here are some examples.

News of the future:
Madoff shivved, owing inmates
Fifty billion cigs

Bin Laden kept porn!
Evil though he might have been
He was one of us.

Super committee:
Failure! Suggestion: Super-
duper committee.

Eight trillion in loans
Profits, just thirteen billion
No wonder banks fail

Cain reassessing:
“Am I heading for mere loss?
Or for epic fail?”

Your Senate at work
Yes: tax hike on workers. No:
Habeas corpus

Post office bankrupt
Path to profit: Make snail mail
Even snailier

Newt? Seriously?
Nostalgia and all, sure, but
Seriously: Newt?

Iraq War over
World War Two-type victory
Eludes us again

Miss Michele Bachmann
Bows out of the race. I won’t
Miss Michele Bachmann

SOPA, PIPA shelved
The public’s confused response:
“We won one for once?”

Mo’ bon mots

Here again are some of the Facebook (and Google+) status updates I’ve been writing in lieu of actual blogging. This is what happens when your longest available nugget of creativity time is five minutes.

  • Inexpert phlebotomist. Ouch.
  • Damn him, just as I’m about to write him off, Obama goes and says all the right things!
  • I chose “super saver shipping” for my Portal 2 preorder? Curse my sense of economy!
  • [On the death of bin Laden.] Message to terrorists: do not fuck with us! If you try to bankrupt us or destroy our freedoms, we will BANKRUPT ourselves and DESTROY OUR FREEDOMS in singleminded pursuit of your overdue and meaningless demise!
  • Saw an 800-year-old copy of the Magna Carta at the Legion of Honor. PFC. (Pretty cool.)
  • A key to happiness: park sooner, not closer.
  • I forgot how much fun it is to peel a sunburn! Kinda makes up for all that pain a couple of weeks ago.
  • Archer does a pretty good Marvin the Martian now. “I claim this planet in the name of Mars!”
  • Now I know what NFS stands for. “Not fast. Slow.”
  • Groupon’s attempts at Woot-like clever sales copy cause me actual pain.
  • Just when the day was shaping up to be blah, along comes the headline, “Arkansas weatherman found in hot tub with naked dead man wearing dog collar.”
  • [For my puzzle-loving friend Wes.] I feel a birthday limerick coming on!
    There once was a fellow named — guess!
    The last letter of his name is an S
    The rest of his name
    Is spelled just the same
    As a homophone for the French word for yes.
  • Me, at the wax museum yesterday: “That’s Gandhi, he was an important leader in India. He helped show people how to get what they want through peace instead of fighting.” Archer: “How? With puppy-dog eyes?”
  • Prepping for the CERT class final tomorrow — and watching episodes of Emergency! from 1972 with the family! Life is good.
  • I am a California certified disaster service worker.
  • Another day, another certification: have just completed an American Heart Association First Aid/CPR/AED course.
  • Andrea. Bob. TV food celebrities with the initials A.B. We got it covered.

  • Less tolerant of misspellings today than usual. And that’s saying something.
  • A weekend that ends with the family driving home, singing along with side 2 of Abbey Road, is a pretty good weekend.
  • What am I doing up so early on my birthday, rather than sleeping in? I started my day standing in my driveway in the darkness, a hot cup of coffee in my hands, neck craned way way back, enjoying the Orionids: a birthday light show put on for me by debris from Halley’s comet. Now that’s how you start a birthday. Orionids Meteor Shower 2011
  • Today I’m 45. But every morning in the shower, by force of habit rather than necessity, I still use the amount of shampoo of a man half my age.
  • S! is for super
    U! is for unique
    Z! is for Zamfir, master of the pan flute
    A! is for awesome
    N! is for no way is my baby sister 42
    N! is for no way is my baby sister 42, weren’t you listening?
    E! is for even if my baby sister were 142 she’d still kick all our asses, including Zamfir’s, in super unique awesomeness
    What’s that spell? SUZANNE! What’s that spell? SUZANNE! What’s that spell? SUZANNE! Yaaaaaay!
  • Viruses invade my cells. They hijack my cellular machinery to copy themselves. They subvert my immune response to cause me to sneeze and cough them everywhere. Then they invade someone else’s cells. Ah the circle of life!
  • “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.” is the new “My God, it’s full of stars.”
  • The promise of grilled cheese is never quite matched by the reality.
  • The rainy season arrived yesterday. So the kids started asking, “When can we watch Singin’ In the Rain?” Raised ’em right.
  • “Locking nuts” my ass.
  • I get it now. It’s not that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, per se; it’s that the old dog’s attention is divided into slices so thin that no one of them is suitable for learning new tricks.
  • Yes, its stated goals (save taxpayer money, solve more crimes, and protect the innocent) are all excellent. But my favorite argument in opposition to the death penalty is that there are things worse than death, and there are some criminals who deserve them. SAFE California
  • Lord of the Rings + A Midsummer Night’s Dream + The Wizard of Oz – any sense of things mattering or making sense = Willow
  • Things change, and here’s the proof: the teenaged me thought “48 Hrs” (the Nick Nolte/Eddie Murphy film) was a rollicking good time, but the middle-aged me is appalled by it.
  • Two full weeks to do nothing but exercise and practice guitar. Is that too much to ask?
  • Each morning I arrive at work and park my car in YouTube’s garage. There are hundreds of spaces on multiple levels, and on any given day I’m as likely to park on one level as on any other. I’m somewhat absent-minded — in the shower I often cannot remember whether I’ve shampooed yet — so you’d think I’d constantly be forgetting where my car is. But almost without fail, at the end of the day, I ask myself, “Now where did I park?” and can recall the spot I pulled into that morning — not the morning before or the morning last week. Why am I able to do this?
  • Reamde: finished! It’s as if someone complained to Neal Stephenson that too little happens in Anathem and it takes too long to get going, so Stephenson, taking this as a challenge, said, “Oh, yeah?” and rolled up his sleeves and wrote this.
  • How do you complain about a great employee perk like a fancy new smartphone every year? Like this: I lost all my Angry Birds levels!
  • When your kid makes a series of unreasonable requests, and you have to say no again and again, and then he makes a perfectly reasonable one but you say no anyway, without thinking, that’s “nomentum.”
  • Archer, watching football: “What does NFL stand for?” (and then, before I can answer) “I think the N stands for National. The F stands for… the F word. And the L stands for linguine.”
  • I do hereby pronounce 2012 to be a year of love, happiness, and prosperity for all.
  • If I lived in Manhattan I’d eat at Grey’s Papaya for lunch every goddamned day.
  • Is it my imagination, or did bananas used to be easier to begin peeling?
  • Who is the mad genius who first came up with chicken-fried bacon?
  • Tonight I had the opportunity to say, “I remember Husker Du.” But no one got the joke.
  • I love Paul McCartney as much as the next guy — for his talent, of course, but also for his famous down-to-earth genuineness. But there’s no way that’s still his natural hair color.

Poetry schmoetry

One Internet craze from the early days of the World Wide Web was to compose haiku about Spam (the lunchmeat, not the unwanted e-mail). My friend Eric Pivnik wrote the best possible one of all time:

Old man seeks doctor
“I eat Spam daily,” he says.


Pink tender morsel
Glistening with salty gel.
What the hell is it?

His efforts inspired some of our coworkers in the mid 1990’s to write their own. Here’s mine:

Pink ingot of meat
Bit by bit it goes in me
Now I am Spam too.

Not long after that I challenged everyone to write double dactyls, a very specific comic-rhyme form with several rules:

  • There are two stanzas of four lines each;
  • Lines 1, 2, 3 and 5, 6, 7 are double-dactylic: they have the rhythm “DA-da-da DA-da-da”;
  • Lines 4 and 8 have the same rhythm but with the last two syllables chopped off;
  • Lines 4 and 8 rhyme;
  • Line 1 is a repeated nonsense phrase, like “Higgledy piggledy”;
  • Line 2 is a person’s name;
  • Line 6 or line 7 is a single, six-syllable, double-dactylic word.

I started it off with this one.

Clickety clickety
Andrea Dougherty
Always takes pictures at
Every event.

Her secret fantasy:
Selling her photographs
Paying the rent.

David Hartmann came back with this terrific one:

Higgledy piggledy
Robert S. Glickstein our
Poetry overlord
Starts a new thread

“Picture yourself in a
Boat on a river” gets
Stuck in my head.

Christine Martinez-Begle wrote this about her husband:

Piggly Wiggly
Doug is in Charleston
Prowling at night for an
Innocent hick

Diving in dumpsters for
Cannibal comfort food
Chicken-fried free-swingin’
Steak on a stick

which, apart from being macabre, has a few problems in its structure, so I wrote this to poke fun at her:

Poetry, schmoetry
Christine Martinez-B
Thinks Piggly’s syllables
Add up to three

Probably she’s just like
Those who say “fire” is
(That includes me.)

Finally, for Salon.com’s “dot-com haiku” challenge in 2000, in addition to a few forgettable haiku (the best of which was: Start a company / Get funding. Show promise. Fail. / Start a company) I offered this double dactyl:

Hump-i-ty Dump-i-ty
Jeffrey P. Bezos’s
Company made him Time’s
Man of the Year

Loyal investors say
“He’ll turn a profit soon,
Never you fear.”


This is the first sentence of the five hundredth post on gee bobg. This sentence was quick, but not quick enough to be the first sentence. This sentence is content merely to be in the first paragraph.

This is the first sentence of the five hundredth post on gee bobg. This sentence was quick, but not quick enough to be the first sentence. This sentence is content merely to be in the first paragraph.

This sentence starts out wondering why the title of this post is “D,” but ends by remembering that D is the Roman numeral for 500. This sentence asks why the Roman numeral for 500 is D. This sentence doesn’t know but guesses it has something to do with the Latin root “demi,” which means half, as in half a thousand.

There was a sentence before this one, but it went off to Wikipedia to check out the “demi” hypothesis.

This is what the Bob-o-matic has to say on the occasion of the five hundredth post on gee bobg:

It’s weird when you organize government from another family that has the Bush west wing. Leia’s not Luke’s sister, but a few times to use? You bet! What’s to insult the girls again, finally? The only time in 1979. Hey, I know that slapstick is dead. Now an annual nationwide two-week sale. The star-spangled banner: not a multiple of one adventure. And eventually made my way to go ahead. And production values! But to have some green figs, yogurt, and more experienced for her, and why? To make your selection, Sir Topham Hatt, or you’re caught. Reindeer that fly? Or would I have been Matty? Who would even find such a film that I never saw? Even one drop was too easy to be confused with Dr. No Kidding. Clicking the hang of it. There it is: the first several days. I was the first. Votes, in the meantime…

This sentence points out that the occasion of the five hundredth post on gee bobg comes within just a couple of weeks of the fifth anniversary of the first post. This sentence asserts it is the last sentence of the five hundredth post on gee bobg and reminds you not to regard the following parenthetical remark as part of the five hundredth post’s main content. (Tip of the hat to David Moser’s “This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself.”)

Clip show

The month of March passed without any posts here at gee bobg, the first such month in nearly five years of writing this blog.

There are two main reasons for this. One is being very busy, of course, especially now that it’s April. The other is that what little energy I have for online self-expression these days goes mostly to Facebook status updates. Those are much pithier than the kinds of things I like to post here (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better), and some of them are meant only for my Facebook friends. But some are suitable for public broadcast and so here is a clip show of some recent Facebook status updates that would otherwise have appeared here in some form.

  • I don’t normally like to boast about the famous free food at Google, but: Risotto-Crabmeat Croquettes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli, damn!
  • If I ever start a fertilizer company, I’m calling it Stately Wayne Manure.
  • Current media narrative: the Tea Party cost the GOP the Senate. You know what really cost the GOP the Senate? Ruinous policymaking.
  • At my kids’ martial arts belt test. There is no question my kids could kick my ass.
  • When I was a kid, it blew my mind to discover that most recipes involving chocolate require vanilla.
  • Count that day lost whose low-setting sun can see from thy hand no worthy act done.
  • If John Lennon were alive today, what would he say about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Trick question. If John Lennon were alive today there wouldn’t be wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • TMTD – Too Much To Do. Let’s see if this catches on as a new Internet acronym.
  • Tangled: First movie in a long time to make me feel like I could have sat straight through a second showing.
  • While I’m paralyzed trying to engineer the best solution to the problem, Andrea Glickstein is rolling up her sleeves and getting started on it, best solution or not. Which, it turns out, is a much better solution than being paralyzed trying to engineer the best solution. This is why I married her.
  • Seen during our trip to Thailand 10 years ago: “The having of wonderful tourism time is our lucky pleasure. Splashing-water-face is one but not only attraction of amazing country Thailand, Land of Smiles.”
  • Viral load: increasing. Matzo ball soup: consumed. Wife: awesome.
  • Can’t stand how many supposed actual journalists are writing about Larry Page taking the “reigns” at Google.
  • Made a hotel reservation online for a surprise romantic getaway. But because we’ve stayed at this chain before and their computer knows us, they sent the confirmation e-mail TO MY WIFE. So much for the surprise… and lucky for me it was her I was planning to take!
  • Me: “Do you want rice, or rice-and-chicken?” Archer: “How about both?” Me: “OK, rice-and-chicken it is.” Archer: “No: rice, rice, and chicken.”
  • Singer Dale Bozzio’s drunken, incoherent ramblings. Guitarist Brad Miller collapsing mid-show and being whisked to the hospital. The band soldiering on to play their biggest hits, saved for the end of the set, without a guitarist. Good times at last night’s Missing Persons concert.
  • Nothing says creeping despotism like this vaguely apprehensive slogan, seen on a Jell-O Pudding cup lid: “Happy is still legal in all 50 states.”
  • I have heat in my home, and electricity. I have clean hot and cold running water, and my toilets flush. The air is OK to breathe. A wide assortment of nutritious food is immediately at hand, and if it weren’t I could easily get some more. My family members are safe and comfortable and I know just where they are. May these things be true again soon for the people of Japan and anyplace there’s disaster or strife.
  • Every year, the same thing. “Aww, I have nothing green to wear! I’ll be sure to buy something before next St. Patrick’s Day.” Every goddamn year…
  • It’s raining outside. I have a roof over my head to keep me dry. Then I step into a little booth where I can make it rain artificially. Seems… inefficient.
  • Saw at Target yesterday: a DVD of the movie Benji. I already own it. But I have such affection for it from childhood that it took a real effort not to impulse-buy another copy.

Dad writes too

To help overcome my sons’ reluctance to do the ever-increasing writing portions of their nightly homework, and hopefully to cultivate a love of writing in them, last night I let them give me a writing assignment of my own which I worked on while they did theirs. My assignment, from Jonah, was to write about our Lego Millennium Falcon project. Here’s what I wrote and showed to the boys, who were excited about it, so I plan to do it again.

For my birthday in 2009, my sons gave me the Lego Millennium Falcon, which at the time was Lego’s largest set, both in number of pieces and in the size of the assembled model — about three feet long! I was very excited. The Millennium Falcon is the coolest spaceship in all of science fiction, and I’ve been drawing, building, playing with, and otherwise dreaming about the Millennium Falcon since I was eleven.

Working on the model was very challenging. First we needed a space large enough for the growing assembly as well as the boxes and bags of pieces. Second, the pieces were not organized in any meaningful way, so finding what we needed for each step took a lot of patience, squinting, and good lighting. Then of course there was the need to make sure that I and my sons all got chances to do the coolest steps as well as the tedious parts.

There were long stretches where we didn’t work on it at all, especially during the summer months when there were other, better things to do out of doors. Finally, after we returned from our Christmas vacation (2010) we made a big push to finish it. For one thing, we needed to reclaim the space that the boxes were taking up. For another, Jonah had embarrassed me by building the even-larger Lego Taj Mahal in mere weeks, single-handedly, while the Millennium Falcon sat half-finished. Finally, the closer we got to the end, the faster construction went, for two reasons: first, there were fewer and fewer pieces to search through for each step; and second, there were more and more cool surface details to add, helping to motivate us.

In the end, it took fifteen months to finish building the Millennium Falcon. It was worth the wait and the effort — the finished model is awesome. Now if only we could find a good place to display it!


When I was a programming intern at the very start of my career, circa 1987, our tech writer had this sign above her workstation:

Before asking me a question
Read the manual

No one had ever heard “RTFM” before, and this formulation was funny because (at the risk of stating the obvious) it omitted the F from the expansion of the acronym. Here’s what’s funny about that: you effortlessly fill in that blank yourself, and you recognize that everyone else can too, which highlights the frivolity of that bit of prudery; and at the same time you recognize the hostility of someone who’s been asked too many dumb questions, ill concealed in a sign made ostensibly polite by the omission of what the F stands for.

“RTFM” became widespread not long after that, but every single subsequent time I saw it — on t-shirts and coffee mugs, on demotivational office posters and in e-mail signatures — and every time someone wittily quoted it to me, it was always “Read the fucking manual,” which completely misses the point. There’s no frivolous prudery on display, no conspicuously bad attempt to conceal the hostility of the sentiment. RTFM had become just an abbreviation for a crude message and a tiny bit of something important was lost from the world.

Here’s another thing: a few years after that first RTFM sign, in 1990, the movie Goodfellas came out, and there was a brief flurry of discussion on Usenet surrounding the effort made by one dedicated moviegoer to count the number of times the word “fuck” is used in the film: 296, raising Goodfellas head and shoulders above former champ Scarface (from 1983, with 207 occurrences of that word).

“Fuck” still had the ability to shock and surprise, as evidenced by the astonished reactions on Usenet to its profligate use in Goodfellas, but thanks to that film and Casino (1995: 422 “fucks”) and their ilk, that power was waning. Soon a torrent of “fucks” would be used for comic effect in The Big Lebowski (1998: 260) and then we had The Sopranos (1999), every episode of which was 20% “fuck” by weight.

The power of “fuck” is almost all gone, and that’s a shame, because what can take its place as the all-purpose strong taboo epithet? By overuse it’s been demoted to a very mild intensifier, as in “You cannot fucking believe the fucking paella at this fucking place, it’s fucking amazing.” Texters use LMFAO and OMFG without a second thought (and without pretending they stand for “laugh my ass off” and “oh my god”), and a little more of something important is lost from the world.

What brings you here 2009

Geez, post one tiny picture of a naked woman and your whole blog turns permanently into Times Square. (Er, the seedy Times Square of my youth, not the oppressively unobjectionable Times Square of today. [Or the celebratory Times Square of tonight.]) I was going to write my annual “What brings you here” post that tallies the top queries drawing readers to this site, until I discovered that Polly Walker’s nipples, which last year drew 30% of this site’s visitors, now draw nearly twice that: 58%. Almost all of the other queries disappear in the statistical noise.

It’s true that I updated this blog far fewer times in 2009 than I did in 2008, but I did add 46 new posts, which isn’t nothing, and none of that new content was prurient — in fact there’s been only one new post in the “sex” category since “When on Rome” two years ago. You’d think that the drawing power of Polly Walker would be dwindling, not growing. You’d think that a few fuzzy flesh-colored pixels would count for little next to the attempts at erudition, humor, personal reminiscence, political ranting, and heartwarming family anecdotes that make up the preponderance of the site.

Well, sex sells. Hopefully the thing it’s selling is a little intellectual uplift to the single-minded degenerates who stumble across this site!