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Aug 5 13

Unfocused Story

by gwolinetz

Evite’s list of past invitations that you’ve received only goes back 3 years.

This disappointed me, because I thought it would be interesting to see which invitations I’d accepted, which I’d turned down and what lame attempt at being funny I’d made to excuse my absence, even which ones I’d marked myself down as tentative and then never bothered to update, either because I’d reached out to the person offline to tell them I’d either be there or not or because I was a self-absorbed dick and simply didn’t bother to let them know one way or the other. I thought it would be interesting to see what I had to do from times that I have no idea what I had to do. There was a time that I had very little that I had to do during the week or on weekend days, but I had plenty to do on weekend nights.

The days that I have tons to do on weekend nights are long gone. Now, my weekend days are filled: birthday parties and playground time, schlepping the kids to see the grandparents or taking them somewhere to spend a zillion dollars to keep them entertained for 45 minutes. My weekend nights, after bedtime of course, are typically, mercifully contained to catching up on Breaking Bad, Project Runway or Top Chef (when they’re in season) and then usually passing out on the couch before I rouse myself to walk the dog and then try to remember my dream when I get into bed. This may seem horribly unexciting (it is), but it is (at this point) more than I could have hoped for with two young kids. And when the youngest one is a bit older, maybe I’ll be able to pass the nighttime child-rearing duties off to someone else once in a while and take my wife out to dinner or a show or even to sit in a movie theater on do the out of the house equivalent of watching TV. This eventually happens to most people, and the secret is, it’s really fun. it’s a different kind of fun, but my weekend days today are better than my weekend nights ever were.

But sitting here, I thought it would be nice to remember the times when there weren’t other human beings to rely on me and I had several invites a weekend to go out and meet up at a bar or … meet up at a different bar. Sitting where I am now, it’s hard to believe that this is what I did for hours on end without even thinking twice about it. Most of the time, we’d just go and get drunk and stand around and look at pretty girls without talking to them. Sometimes, assuming we got drunk enough, we’d dance pretty badly. Occasionally, this drinking would happen on a Sunday morning/afternoon and there’d be football going in the background.

But there were no Evites to track those events or attendees. There wasn’t even any texting and really not a whole lot of cell phone calls either. We made the plans during the week, called each other at home to firm them up and then just met at someone’s apartment and headed out together. And if you didn’t get to the person’s apartment, you didn’t call them incessantly to find out where they were. You showed up at the bar, had a beer, maybe chatted up the bartender for a little bit while you waited for your buddies or (gasp) maybe even talked to the person next to you at the bar for a bit. This was called “Branching out.”

Eventually, that ended. And not because we all met women and got married. It ended because it’s a fucking terrible way to spend time. It ended because drinking as the focus of an evening wore off as a novelty somewhere around the age of 25. It’s an extension of college. And you can only extend college for so long, before you realize that college was awesome because you were young, not in spite of it.

This is all prelude though. The Evites that I was looking for were more about things like “What did I do for New Year’s 2001?” And I can’t find any, because Evite doesn’t keep them, which is probably just as well, because the answer to the question of “What did I do for New Year’s 2001?” is, as I recall, “we met up at a bar,” and I’m not sure that I give a shit as to whose barbecue I made it to and whose I didn’t. They haven’t held it against me, and if they have, I’ve completely forgotten about it.

/unfocused story

Jul 30 13

Take Your Hands Off Me. I’m A Senator’s Wife!

by gwolinetz

Elieen Brennan has passed away at the age of 80:

Eileen Brennan, who earned an Oscar nomination for her hilarious turn as the exasperated drill captain in 1980′s “Private Benjamin,” has died, CNN has confirmed. She was 80.

Brennan died Sunday at her Burbank, California, home after a battle with bladder cancer, her management company said.

“Our family is so grateful for the outpouring of love and respect for Eileen,” her family said in a statement. “She was funny and caring and truly one of a kind. Her strength and love will never be forgotten. She will be greatly missed by all of us.”

And now, a few moderately tasteless Clue-related jokes:

- The killer was bladder cancer in the bedroom with the squamous carcenoma
- Senator Peacock has asked that all government buildings in his state fly at half mast in his wife’s honor
- “Well, I had to stop her from screaming”
- She’s in Heaven being blackmailed by the angels now (h/t to Matt Tobey)

Jul 29 13

This Morning …

by gwolinetz

I have nowhere else to write this and I need to, so I’m doing it here. And the last sentence aside, I’m not apologizing for it. This is going to be one of those posts, so if you’re not interested, feel free to skip past it. It won’t hurt my feelings.

This morning, my family and I walked my daughter to school. This is not terribly remarkable, even though it rarely happens. My 2-month old son had a doctor’s appointment this morning and it was at an in between time, so we just walked my daughter to school and then got in a taxi from there and headed off to the doctor’s office. Again, nothing terribly remarkable. It was a pretty ordinary morning.

Except that “pretty ordinary” for an almost 4-year old and a 2-month old is really amazing. I mean, really amazing.

Before we left, she asked me to put clips in her hair. She had 9 of them. I instinctively said that she shouldn’t wear 9 clips because that would look ridiculous, but I backed off and Mom put the clips in for her, because I would have made a complete mess of it. And I’m not sure the 9 clips would look ridiculous, because she also had 7 bracelets on her wrist and a headband on her head.

I also took an apple before we walked out the door, because I didn’t have the chance to eat breakfast. There was a lot to do, between walking the dog and getting the little one ready, changing diapers and each of the adults taking a shower, plus getting the kids fed and etc. In the lobby on the way out of the building, my daughter asked me if she could have a bite. I hesitated quickly, because this was all that I was going to eat for a couple of hours, but of course I gave her one. We walked a few more steps and then she asked for another bite and when she took the apple, she said “we’re sharing it now.” And so we did. We shared the whole apple. She got the last bite. And when we were done sharing, she took my hand and we walked.

And there was my daughter, belly full of half an apple, 9 clips in her hair, holding my hand as we walked down the street. No one on the street said anything about how ridiculous she looked. Because she didn’t look ridiculous; she looked like an almost 4-year old. And the moments that we share holding hands and walking somewhere together (we have a lot of them now that we have the other little one) are moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

You know, she’s not going to want to wear 9 clips in her hair forever. And she’s not going to want to share an apple with Dad forever either. But goddamn if don’t love that she wants to now.

Jan 2 13

Shameless Promotion

by gwolinetz

Two of the funniest folks that I know, the ladies Kittenpants and LadyBirdJ, were kind enough to have me on their outstanding Methree podcast recently.

You can listen to the whole darn thing here, but suffice it to say, if you’re a fan of the $25,000 Pyramid, Sam Elliott’s junk or Three’s A Crowd, you won’t be disappointed. If you aren’t a fan of those things, I hate you.

Jan 2 13

Happy New Year

by gwolinetz

Dear everyone,

I’m going to fire up the old blog machine again. You’ve all been warned.

Love and kisses (the good kind),

P.S. I’m sorry about all the hubbub about the world ending on 12/21/2012. My friend Eddie Mayan really doesn’t know when he takes he jokes too far.

Jan 26 12

Sajak? More like Saj-Drunk!

by gwolinetz

Uninteresting revelation from Pat Sajak:

The game show’s host since 1983 (not including when he left for a spell and was replaced by a former NFL kicker named Rolf), Sajak recently told Dan Le Batard of ESPN2 that during two-and-a-half hour breaks in taping, he and letter-spinner Vanna White would skip over to a Mexican restaurant in Burbank and down a margarita for every letter in the alphabet.

Well, not literally.

“Vanna and I would go across and have two or three or six and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet,” Sajak told the host of “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable.” “They’re really great tapes to get ahold of.”

Let’s be honest: you’d almost have to be drunk to want to deal with some of the people who appear ont hat program. There’s nothing like watching a partially educated adult look at Sajak with a straight face and ask, “Is there an ‘f’ as in ‘phone’?”

Jan 4 12

New Year. Happy.

by gwolinetz

And we’re back. I trust this new year finds you all well and prospering in our global economy.

Dec 14 11

Things I’ve Read: Books Edition

by gwolinetz

Just as I was on a TV watching jag not long ago, I’m now on a reading (mostly books) tear, so I thought, “Why not resurrect ‘Things I’ve Read’?” And since I’m the only one a) writing this thing and b) reading it, there’s nothing to stop me but the sad, slow descent into oblivion. I suppose this pile of Cheez Doodles could stop me also, but why split hairs?

1) The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood – Jane Leavy
– I picked this up at the Time Warner Center Borders for $8 before it closed a few months back. It took me a while to actually pick it up and start reading, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. Lots of really fair-minded biographical information. Leavy takes the time to explain out front that often what we remember about events and people and what actually happened are different tales, and then goes into detail about her own first encounter with Mickey Mantle as a sports reporter for the Washington Post in the 1980s turned out to be nothing like she’d remembered it based on photographic evidence. After that, she relates anecdotes from people that were close to Mantle, but also takes pains to make sure to correct those with faded or altered memories. The baseball stuff was good, but the off the field stuff is worth the price of admission (particularly if the price is $8).

2) The Ask: A Novel – Sam Lipsyte
– I ordered this one for the Kindle app when it came out and they promptly fell out of love with e-Reading (I’m still not crazy about it), so it sat in my queue of books on there, unread, for about a year, until I spent the last week on a business trip and rediscovered it. I finished it in one night. It’s just a really sad, beautiful, heartbreaking novel about a guy whose lost his job as a solicitor of donations for the arts department at a New York based university, when an old college buddy approaches the university with the possibility of a donation contingent on our guy being the person assigned to work with him. It’s depraved and bizarre, but really gripping. I really wanted to know what the hell happened at the end, so I simply kept reading. And I wasn’t disappointed with the writing or the reading. My heart simply broke with disappointment at the outcome itself. Truly brilliant stuff.

3) The Funny Man – John Warner
– In truth, I’m not finished with this one yet. I’m about halfway through. I know John. I’m not really friends with him. We’re more e-quaintances (that is to say, he has rejected a lot of my stuff while editor of McSweeney’s). But I do know him and I can’t say enough about how much I’m enjoying this book so far. It’s just immensely clever and really well researched, considering a good amount of it takes place while the narrator is on trial for manslaughter and John (as far as I know) has never been on trial for manslaughter himself. I’ll be finishing this off shortly.

Sitting on my desk going forward is Jonathan Lethem’s new book, Freedom, as well as the Steve Jobs biography. I’ve also got a Delmore Schwartz short story collection, so some good reading ahead. not to mention finishing off my own book, which I hope to do once I call it a year at ye olde office.

Dec 1 11

NaNoWriMo Update, #2

by gwolinetz

Day: 30
Projected Word Count: 50,000
Actual Word Count: 16,994

Yeah, I know. I suck so hard. I didn’t come close to doing what I’d set out to do. It’s upsetting, but to be fair, writing 17,000 words is something that I haven’t done in a very long time. To be honest, it felt good to write again. And I didn’t completely hate what I wrote. I only moderately hated it. To put it into an analogy using CBS sitcoms, I usually hate what I write as much as I hate Mike and Molly. I only hate this as much as I hate 2 Broke Girls. This is a subtle, but important distinction.

I fleshed out a bit of an outline to follow, if I want to finish the story (which I do), so I’m going to pick away at that over the course of December and see if I can’t knock this thing out before the new year.

Anyway, don’t judge me. Jerks.

Nov 9 11

NaNoWriMo Update

by gwolinetz

Day: 9
Projected Word Count: 15,000
Actual Word Count: 11,691

I missed the weekend, which is pretty much the amount of words that I’m behind. I wrote 500 extra words on Monday, but I squandered those words yesterday with an underwhelming day. The good news here is that I have the idea for how the story is going to go in my head, so I’m feeling good about that. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish, or at least come close.

The bad news? I haven’t finished this thing since 2002.