Mailbag questions

questions clouds I’ve posted 200 blogs here over two years, covering subjects from dating to basketball to book reviews to death to asshole ex-landlords to 9/11 to plagiarism to North Carolina. Good times.

One thing I haven’t done is a mailbag of viewer questions and prompts. So I’m opening it up to any and all readers. Is there something you’d like to see addressed? If you know me, maybe there’s a story you’d like to see immortalized in a blog piece. If you don’t know me, maybe there’s something you’ve wondered but never asked. Well, here’s your chance. You have total diplomatic immunity. Take advantage! However you ended up here – Twitter; LinkedIn; bluesofnine; warp zone; tesseract; rabbit hole; the red pill – give me a shout in the comments below and let me know. That rhymed.

It was a long and lingering Saturday night. I was lonely. This struck me as absurd. It’s 2015. The world is at my fingertips. Surely there are websites where lonely people can connect from out of the blue.

I went on one and met Raj, a 25-year-old software student from Afghanistan. After initial introductions, he asked me what the difference was between when to use “what” versus “which” in English. Then he wanted to know if I could explain the past subjunctive “in detail.” I’m between spring and summer semesters, so I actually felt fresh enough to indulge his questions. He thanked me, then left.

The next person I chatted with introduced themselves as “m here.”
I, being naive, thought this was someone whose name started with the letter “m.” So I wrote back “mm here!” (see what I did there?)
“Are you male?” they wrote.
“Yes. Where are you from?” I asked.
They disconnected.

The next caller responded to my “hey” with “u male?” When I confirmed, instant disconnect.

Groucho Mark

The Joys of Text(ing)

Last night I decided to text this girl I’ve been talking to and turn on some charm. She’s a brilliant woman; in addition to smarts, she possesses many of the other traits prized by the superficial male. She’s gorgeous.
Our chats have been totally wholesome and innocent, and I decided it was time to take things up a notch. However, before deciding that, I’d decided to consume a heroic amount of wine in a relatively short period of time. The girl’s name starts with an A. As luck would have it, I also have a friend named Adam, which, coincidentally, begins with an A.

Long story short: today around noon Adam texted me, wondering why I kept texting last night insisting he’s “a total cutie.”

 

 

Terms of the week: “basic bitch” & “fuck boy”

One of my students introduced me to two terms I was unfamiliar with: “basic bitch” and “fuck boy.” Three things struck me as she broke down the definitions:

– I’m old enough now that it’s no longer striking when I discover the latest loop I’m out of. I don’t feel “middle-aged.” But I don’t feel young, and I don’t feel old. I feel between the two. Which, you know…sounds middle-aged.

– It’s ironic to have been in college in the mid-1990s, what with all the identity politics in the air, and to be in college now as a professor and see “nigga” and “bitch” so casually uttered, so neutered of power.

– “Basic bitch” and “fuck boy” are contemporary terms for eternal American archetypes.

Rest in peace, Pat

Nine days ago, my friend Pat died.

***

A few months ago, I considered using The Talented Mr. Ripley for a lesson plan. I emailed my department’s listserv asking if anyone had a copy.

A number of co-workers emailed back pointing out the college’s library I passed twice a day twice a week contains literally millions of media, undoubtedly including Ripley. Pat emailed to say he’d left a copy in my mailbox. We had a short, insightful (for me, anyway) discussion of the film, and the original version of the film, and the story they’re based on.

The further this century advances, the more grateful I become for the artifacts of the prior. I still answer the phone with a questioning “Hello?” because I remember when a phone call was a surprise. Sometimes I’m afraid to voice a question in public because someone is guaranteed to whip out their cell and look up the answer. Sometimes a question isn’t a quest for information, but for mere humanity.
Going to the library for Ripley would likely yield the DVD and nothing more. Getting it from a friend, especially one who loved stories like Pat did, yielded a story to remember, and to share. Thus the story-tree grows; thus the world is born again. Pat didn’t only write stories with words. He wrote stories into the lives of those who were lucky to know the man and love the man. Continue reading

The 2015 Punchies Awards

Mike-Tysons-Punchout Last year the Knicks were so bad they were downright offensive. Also offensive: Nintendo’s 1987 classic MIke Tyson’s Punch Out!! Seriously: a Frenchman who’s afraid to fight…a literally shifty-eyed Japanese man…a vain Spaniard…a transmogrifying Indian…a swarthy Turk…a drunken Russian…an image-obsessed Californian…put it this way: Mike Tyson served a prison term for rape, and he’s far and away one of the most likable characters in the game.

The 2015 Knicks didn’t do anything to warrant traditional celebration or awards…so I gave them recognition 8-bit style by creating the first annual Punchies awards. Players, front-office types, fans, abstract concepts…everyone’s a nominee when it comes to the Punchies!

Death trending?

My first 34 years of life, not many people I knew – like, really knew – ever died. Only a few, spread out over time. This weekend, a good friend passed away. He’s the sixth person I know in two years who’s now gone. I made music with the first. Partied in college with the second. Laughed a lot with the third. Survived high school with the fourth. Shared blood with the fifth. Shared creative writing and futbol with the sixth.

If you’re reading this and we’re friends, you may want to consider breaking things off with me.