In Really West Philadelphia Born and Raised…

To make a long story short, American culture is a mix of both European and African influences. The whites of Europe and blacks of Africa, coming to America in radically different scenarios, made their marks upon society. It’s hard to deny that the black influence makes America dynamic and distinctive. The disruptive, disgraceful history of slavery denied so many people a fair and free existence. Nevertheless, their home was that same place that refused to honor them. I was so shaken during the George Floyd protests when I heard former Celtics coach and now 76ers coach, Doc Rivers say, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back.”

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Thoughts about Politics and Poop

An old Frenchman named Montaigne once said, “Even upon the highest throne, man still sits upon his arse.” What goes unsaid is that which comes out of the aforementioned arse—caca poo poo. It’s the common problem of humans, i.e. being self-aware of our own bungholes. Some don’t have this problem. Defectors from Pyongyang brought with them the scoop that North Korean leader Jong-un Kim’s pappy Jong-il Kim never pooped. We like to think farts and toilet jokes are funny, but they’re not, our bowels are deadly serious and the source of much of our anxiety and dread. One character in The Sopranos died on the toilet from constipation and it is rumored that’s how Elvis shuffled off.

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It’s My Birthday (Groan)

Due to my crappy memory for anything besides Simpsons quotes and sports statistics, lots of my childhood memories come from parental second-hand stories. My dad tells embarrassing scatological stories of my first few years with an uncontrolled bladder and my mom mostly fills in details from questions about my elementary wanderings. One story that can be corroborated was around my 5th or 6th b-day. During the common “Happy Birthday” song, I burst into tears. On a grainy home video, I’m sitting at the head of the table in a darkened room with a little conical hat, fires burning atop my sweet cake, family illuminated in shadows performing that droning incantation and you can see it coming. My face drops and I lose it. Even as a tiny kid I didn’t like that song.

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The 1st Biden/Trump Debate Was Ugly and Weird

One of my favorite activities during the Christmas season is re-watching Home Alone. I know every line, every scene and love it all. The family running around packing for France, the pizza, the bumbling robbers, the old man shoveling rock salt, the tarantula, the house lights, the paint cans, the background score, John Candy and the Kenosha Kickers being quite popular in Sheboygan; it’s 103 minutes of Christmas spirit for me. However, one character stands out among all the familial dysfunction: Uncle Frank.

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Stephen King Puts Bugs in Your Brain

A few days ago, I finished reading Pet Sematary and then watched the 1989 movie. The movie pulls out the big moments and crams it all into 100 minutes. They’re both scary in different ways. I got the terror tingles and horror chills from both. It’s not a purely scary idea such as a killer clown or a haunted mansion; it’s more a question of what would you do for your kid? Continue reading

At Home During Coronavirus 2020

A few weeks ago, when the Coronavirus was still holed up in Central China and not the global pandemic and international catastrophe it has become, my apartment flooded. Late in the quiet hours of a worknight sleep, my wife woke me up with frantic screaming. She had gotten up to pee and stepped in it. The wet floor could be a dog-related effluvium or a spilled water cup from the nightstand, but this was too deep and too cold for that. Gurgling up from between the doorframe was clean, clear, cold water. I stayed awake all night in a cycle, alternating every towel in the house between soaking up the unknown stream and the washing machine spin-cycle. Continue reading

The Magic of Coffee and Caffeine

I didn’t regularly drink coffee until reaching my thirties. I didn’t need it. People used to make any variety of this faux-joke, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my first cup”, and I thought that was just a nice way of telling me to shut up or go away. It seemed like a bad idea to start habitually using a “drug” that could so enormously impact your day. Continue reading

Parasites

Parasites have a pretty nasty connotation. Vermin such as: fleas, lice, ticks, worms—are tiny monosyllabic terrors. They’re selfish takers. They bite. They suck. They kill. Parasites target bodies and blood. In Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite, the broke Kim family targeted the wealthy Park family. Through a series of unfortunate events, the four poor Kim’s come under the employ of an outrageously opulent family, who are living their idyllic life, shuttling in their chauffeured Benz between high-rise offices, classy supermarkets, garden parties and their ultra-luxe home. Continue reading

Thinking About Memories and Anniversaries

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.”

–Lennon/McCartney

The year of anniversaries. Ten years ago, 2009, Obama was inaugurated and I tried to get my students interested in watching history in the making. Not everyone is interested in history. Kids ask, “Why do I need to learn history if it already happened?” “Why do I need to learn about dead people?” I usually respond with some confounded response about how history lays bricks for future roads. Continue reading

Thanks to Netflix

Aziz Ansari just blew me away with his new stand-up special, Right Now. He’s always been a good comedian, but this was his giant leap into great. His Netflix show, Master of None, was pretty good. It’s not as funny as Tim Robinson’s new show, I Think You Should Leave, which is curse out loud, spit out your food, fall off your chair ridiculous. With this special, Aziz hit the buttons of the moment and made them funny. Continue reading