Feb 222014
 

Maybe like a number of you older folks, I can’t think of the Winter Olympics without this image going through my mind.

vinko

“… and the agony of defeat …”

Okay, I know Vinko Bogataj‘s ill-fated “agony of defeat” moment didn’t happen at the Olympics—it was actually at the 1970 Ski-Flying World Championships—but it was burned into our collective consciousness as part of the Olympic narrative because it became such a memorable part of the opening of ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” which was the U.S. broadcast outlet of the Olympic games for a loooong time. (By the way, Vinko only sustained a concussion in the crash and although he never became a ski-jumping superstar, has gone on to have a fairly pleasant life.)

I suppose there’s that other Winter Olympic moment might be one that some of you may recall …

I remember watching that live as a kid and actually jumping around the room when the U.S. won …. you know, completely unlike what happened this year.

Oh well, 1980 was just a special moment that inspired me . . . not to dedicate countless hours training in the hopes of possibly becoming an elite athlete who might compete at a chance to win a gold medal. No, that’s too much work, and if you couldn’t tell by my choice of writing for a living, I’m a bit “work-averse,” to put it politely. (“Lazy” is not inaccurate, either.)

No, this year’s Olympics have inspired me to create ….

6 New Events That Should Be in the Winter Olympics

1. Snow Removal Slalom – I have been the chief snow removal engineer for the domiciles I’ve lived in pretty much my entire life, so I know my way around a snow shovel, to say the least. In this event, there would be a long downhill driveway that competitors have to clear—but wait, there are challenges that may or may not be inspired by my current driveway (and by that I mean they have totally been inspired by my current driveway): large bumpy sections of broken pavement; a barrier on one side (like a house) forcing snow to be tossed only in one direction only; a section so wide that that each shovelful has to be carried a ways before it can be tossed; and bitter cold wind that always blows into your face.

As a matter of fact, if the potential U.S. team in this sport wanted to train in my driveway, they would be welcome with open arms and hot cocoa—heck, I’ll even spring for the mini marshmallows!

(Obviously, I have a sneaking suspicion that I would medal in this specially designed one as I’ve already competed in it 14 times this winter alone.)

2. Full Contact Figure Skating – Why leave figure skating up to the judge’s discretion? Just let every competitor skate at the same time in a giant battle royale, and whoever is left standing wins the gold. Easy, peasy, Yamagucheesy!

Insert your favorite Tonya Harding joke here, I suppose.

I would say that they may be on the right track with Snowboard Cross, which I have become smitten with. Of course, there are no video highlights from the current Olympics, which had 6 competitors going at once, but this clip from 2010 gives you the idea.

3. Snow Sculpture – Considering the trend is that more and more Olympic medals are being decided by inexact and subjective (and not objective) judges, why not add a completely artistic event? I mean, if you can “judge” ice dancing, snowboard halfpipe and that prancing around with the giant ribbons on a stick, why not make a contest of the making of snowmen (like the work of this random talented artist I Googled)?

funny-snowman-9

“This is what happened to the East German judges who dared to give me a 4.8.”

And obviously, there would be individual and team competitions—I mean, who wouldn’t want to see what inspiration might spark up the Jamaican snow sculpture team?

4. Snow Diving – It’d be like the ski jump, but instead of a nicely inclined downhill landing zone, athletes would ski off a giant cliff, do all sorts of tricks and then just fall straight down into a “soft” cushion of snow. Picture a Wile E. Coyote sort of situation with points for style—just over and over again.

5. The Ultimate Snowball War – A combination of dodgeball, capture the flag and the Hunger Games (minus the gratuitous murder of children) this would be a unique event in that every team would compete at the same time! It’d be played over a snowy five-mile “field” on the side of a mountain or equally challenging landscape . . . officials would hide ONE flag somewhere, everyone would be sent in at the same time.

I’m thinking teams of five, at least. Get hit with a snowball, and you’re eliminated (or maybe just sent to a penalty box for an hour); if you’re holding the flag and get hit, you must relinquish the flag on the spot. Whoever can get in, find the flag and get out unscathed wins the gold medal! Points also might be awarded for finding the flag, number of “kills” or amount of time retaining the flag.

In order to succeed, there will have to be alliances and sacrifices; great stamina and athleticism will be needed to retrieve the flag, but strategy and guile would also be necessary. If done right, the game might go on for hours or even days! It’d make for great TV, sort of like “Survivor” meets “Knock Out” with a dash of “Ice Road Truckers.”

6. Killer Sled – My friends and I played this on the long downhill of Sassacus Drive, which often was not plowed because it was a dead end—essentially it’s The Road Warrior on sleds.

Simply: Each two-athlete team starts at the same time, the first one to the bottom wins and the rules are: there are no rules.

In our version, there was a “driver” and an “attacker.” Ideally, the driver went for the finish while the attacker went after other sleds to stop them by whatever means necessary (say like hopping aboard another sled to run it  into Mr. D’Aurelio’s parked Buick and abandoning ship just before impact). As you might imagine, the participants’ roles were often interchangeable during any run, and more than once, if you were fortunate enough to survive and limp across the finish line, it might not have been on the sled you started with. You also might end up with a frozen facial or slush down your back—it was snow-fueled anarchy!

And if the Olympics can’t get behind such glorious carnage, then I’m not sure we should participate any more! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!!

Jan 202014
 

So I was not really surprised to hear that New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s staff has been indulging in bully-like behavior, using their power to block lanes of the George Washington Bridge and cause enormous traffic issues for the good people of Fort Lee—all in alleged retaliation for the mayor of Fort Lee not supporting Christie’s last gubernatorial run …

Yes, another donut can solve any problem.

Yes, another donut can solve any problem.

By the way, something is rotten with this story right off the bat. Why would the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee be expected to support the Republican governor of New Jersey in his bid for re-election? Aside from political whores like Joe Lieberman, who endorses across party lines? No, my friends, there’s more to this that will eventually come out …

Now there are new allegations that Gov. Christie’s administration has threatened to withhold Superstorm Sandy relief funds from towns that didn’t “play ball” with particular development plans. I think it’s appropriate to say when it rains, it pours.

Well, while we wait for the next revelation to present itself, here are:

The Top 10 Potential Chris Christie Scandals

1. The “accidental” public release of a Snooki sex tape.

2. Falsified the birth certificate of Jon Bon Jovi—who was actually born in Idaho.

3. Use sand imported from Connecticut to replenish the Jersey Shore.

4. Substituted frozen yogurt for frozen custard on the boardwalk.

5. Coordinate port-o-potty “issues” at the next Springsteen concerts in retaliation for this:

6. Blocked the delivery of god-damned snacks to the New York Jets practice facility.

7. Exorcised the Jersey Devil.

8. Banned “working girls” from entertaining during Super Bowl week.

9. Approved Atlantic City casino applications in exchange for illicit campaign contributions—and unlimited Brony merchandise.

10. Knows the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa and Donald Trump’s original hair.

 

 

So the other night, I’m watching TV with my two sons when we notice that on one of our 2,304 channels is “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.”

“Did we ever see that one?” Zane asks.

“See it? I’ve never even heard of it!” I answer.

And with good reason—as it was one of the less memorable (read: more lame) Peanuts specials to come down the pike. Seriously, the main plot revolves around Charlie Brown having to read War and Peace over his holiday vacation for a book report! It’s like someone said, “Hmm … Peanuts specials are pretty slow moving in the first place, so what can we do to grind it to an absolute halt and suck all the joy out of it? I know! Let’s throw in one of the most dense works in the history of literature! It’ll be awesome—kids eat up Tolstoy!!!”

So we sit through it as a social experiment of sorts, and yeah, it’s as depressing as any Peanuts special—Charlie Brown doesn’t have any fun at the New Year’s Eve party because he’s stuck reading, and he misses out on his chance to hook up with The Little Red-Haired Girl. (Note: During the show, Charlie Brown calls her “Heather,” so at least that Eternal Mystery is solved.) Oh, and if Life—aka, the cruel hand of Charles M. Schultz—doesn’t slap down ol’ Chuck hard enough, he gets a D- on the book report.

After it’s over, we all sort of start joking about how sad it was. Zane asks if anyone has ever done something about when the Peanuts kids grow up, and I suggest that all you’d see is a tombstone for Charlie Brown after he ODs, which prompts the three of us, in our twisted way, to come up with—

The Top 15 Peanuts Specials That Should Be Made

(All illustrations by Zane)

1. It’s an Intervention, Charlie Brown!

2.

Charliebrown5

3. Snoopy Has Rabies … And It’s Fatal, Charlie Brown!

4. It’s the Robot Uprising, Charlie Brown!

5.

Charliebrown4

6. Balls, Charlie Brown!

7. It’s Called Lymphoma, Charlie Brown!

8.

Charliebrown1

9. It’s the Great Gatsby, Charlie Brown!

10. Don’t Marry Your Cousin, Charlie Brown!

11.

Charliebrown3

12. Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow, Charlie Brown!

13. I’m Gonna Kick You in the Peanuts, Charlie Brown!

14. It’s a Tsunami, Charlie Brown!

15. You’re Getting Mauled by a Bear, Charlie Brown!

Charliebrown2

And now …. “We’re Waiting For a Letter from the Peanuts’ Attorneys, Charlie Brown!”

 

As I’m sure you’re well aware, the intrawebz are abuzz with all sorts of content in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Although almost every aspect of this dark moment in U.S. history has seemingly been covered and endlessly speculated upon, it always seems that something new can be discovered. And it’s my job as a quasi-journalist to share some less-heralded—yet critical—bits of information …. they all may not seem that important, but are all parts in the grand mosaic of that historic moment in time.

Just how important, well, that has yet to be determined.

So my conspiracy-hungry friends, here are:

The Top 10 Little-Known Facts About the Kennedy Assassination
(and they are all really true!)

1. On that fateful day in November 1963, President Kennedy was, in fact, wearing a sock on each foot.

2. The limo that transported the President, the First Lady, Texas Governor John Connally and others—a specially modified 1961 Lincoln (named after another president felled by an assassin’s bullet) Continental—had four white wall tires, four headlights and was painted midnight blue. It ran on leaded gasoline.

3. At the time of the assassination, accounting for the Earth’s elliptical orbit, the Sun was 91,821,757 miles above Dealey Plaza. The Moon was a 6-day-old waxing crescent.

4. The population of the United States was 189,241,798 in November 1963. It included Abe Vigoda, Michael Jordan and Johnny Depp. It did not include poet Robert Frost, Nicolas Cage or current First Lady Michelle Obama.

5. Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic pink Chanel suit was double-breasted with navy trim and two pockets on each side. It had six gold buttons. It was never cleaned after the shooting and is currently stored in a secret location in the National Archives, and by request of the Kennedy family, will not be displayed until 2103, at the earliest.

6. At the time of the shooting, Joe Namath was the quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide, coached by Paul “Bear” Bryant. They finished the season 9-2 and defeated Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. It was the New York Jets inaugural season in the AFL under Weeb Ewbank; they would post a record of 5-8-1.

7. Elm Street, the stretch of Dealey Plaza on which Kennedy was shot, is a one-way street—and on November 22, 1963, JFK’s limo was traveling in a direction with what would normally be the regular flow of traffic. It is three lanes wide.

8. The Texas School Book Depository building is seven stories tall, and has seven rows of windows on the side facing Elm Street—but only three rows of windows on the side facing the Grassy Knoll. The original five-story structure was built in 1899, but was hit by lightning in 1901, causing it to burn down. It was rebuilt in 1903, when two more stories were added—including the sixth floor, from which Oswald shot Kennedy.

9. Lyndon B. Johnson, then Vice President—and someone that numerous conspiracy theorists have repeatedly try to implicate in the assassination—was riding two cars behind JFK in a four-door Lincoln convertible. In total there were 16 cars, 13 motorcycles and 3 buses in the motorcade. If you add up those numbers (16+13+3) you get 32, which is the same year (1932) that JFK started his sophomore campaign at Choate in Wallingford, Connecticut.

10. Dallas is 338 miles from Del Rio, Texas, and the U.S. border with Mexico. It is 1,102 miles from Havana, Cuba, and 5,753 miles to Moscow, Russia. Despite all the negative publicity from the assassination, Dallas has remained in Texas, even to this day.

Now that I’ve provided all this info, it’s up to you to weave the conspiracy from it. Please share—plenty of room in the comments!

 

Nov 042013
 

So as part of my gig, I find myself thinking a bit about words and expressions—and sometimes more about the ones we don’t use so much.

For example, I was standing outside of the offices of the New Haven Register and I saw a sign pointing the way to “Human Resources,” which made me wonder if that somewhere in the building there’s an office of “Inhuman Resources.” I don’t think anyone would be happy about being called down there for a meeting … especially for a breakfast meeting.

Speaking of journalism—we always hear about “breaking news,” but how come no one is ever “fixing news.” Or is that what they did back in the days of Yellow Journalism?

I was also considering the term “prehistoric,” which is often paired with the word “creatures” and almost always invoked in dinosaur discussions. Other than the obvious point that anything we can look back on is technically “history”—and therefore anything prehistoric can only be something that occurred before the existence of the known universe—I’m intrigued by the idea that by the very definition of it, we will never know what “posthistoric” creatures will look like. Sort of sad, really, because I’m thinking herds of giant zombie tardigrades roaming the abandoned streets of Earth will be kind of cool to see.

"We're the most badass indestructible creatures on the planet ... and we'll be here to play in the dust that once was you poor lesser organisms. So there's that."

In the same vein, I often visit a deli that proclaims it’s food as “world-class“—is there an alternative? I mean, our whole existence is pretty much confined to this world, so everything made here is automatically “world-class,” right? Of course, this deli proclaims to create its fare with “only the freshest” ingredients … you know, to differentiate itself from the scores of eateries that serve up cuisine concocted from the oldest crap that they can find laying around. Chew on that next time you’re watching an ad from The Olive Garden.

Why is it that Autumn is the only season that has a second name—Fall? I suppose that comes from the leaves falling, but then why don’t we also call Spring “Grow” or “Renew” or even “Warmer”? Then we could call Summer “Hot” and Winter “The Death Season of Cold, Ice and Misery That Only The Mentally Ill and Kate and Steve Frank Could Like.”

Let’s talk about how actors and actresses are almost always referred to as “stars”—stars are supposed to be the brightest lights in the night sky, but there are other heavenly bodies up there, too. So if the leads or the most famous actors and actresses are the stars, doesn’t it stand to reason that the supporting or character actors that revolve around them should be referred to as planets? Like, “Curtis W. Armstrong and Clint Howard are two of the finest planets that Hollywood has to offer.”

On a completely different subject: If you’re for something, you are “pro” that issue—pro-life, pro-abortion, pro-capitalism, pro-cannibal … Yet, a “protest” is something staged when you’re against something. Interestingly, a “contest”—which it seems like what you *should* call it’d when you’re staging an event against a particular issue—is a competition staged to bring about a positive resolution. Really, the “con” is sort of superfluous and it could just be called a “test,” which is already a competition of sorts. I suppose a contest then is in the same vein of conjoined twins in that it involves two … but then shouldn’t it be called a “bi-test,” if we’re sticking to proper prefixes?

Speaking of proper language and grammar, I always remember my high school English teacher Mrs. Scinto used to point out that although many people are described as “uncouth,” not many (like myself) are complimented for being imbued with oodles of couth.

I also find it interesting that when we describe something as “awesome,” it’s usually because it’s got more than “some” awe in it, but yet if it was completely full of awe—and thus “awe-full,” or “awful,” well, that’s the opposite end of the spectrum. I mean, when we’re regretful, we’re full of regret, or beautiful, full of beauty, but this just doesn’t follow.

Not hard to understand why so many who immigrate here prefer to keep English as a second language—because it’s been proven to be crazy.

But it’s the only language I know … so I guess I’ll keep using it.

 

 

So I saw this recent story:

North Korea warns US of ‘horrible disaster’, places military on alert

According to the article, North Korea is suggesting that the U.S. is getting ready to inflict some sort of unprovoked hurt on them, you know, with same wide-eyed, twitchy enthusiasm that English author and conspiracy theorist David Icke has tried to expose the fact that all the world leaders really are reptilian aliens who are awaiting to destroy the fine people of Earth. Except North Korea has nukes and is just spoiling for an opportunity to use them.

Then again, who am I to question the buttondown mind of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who seems to be a rational, trustworthy fella who is BFF with Dennis Rodman and clearly has nothing but the best interest of his people in mind. If he says there’s a threat of the U.S. unleashing a horrible disaster on the poor and befuddled communist state, then dammit, something wicked that way goes!

So to save everyone the hours pondering just what kind of October surprise we may be preparing to drop on our south Asian brothers, I have come up with

The Top 10 Potential Horrible Disasters That the U.S. Could Inflict Upon North Korea

1. Send Honey Boo Boo and Mama June as nutritional ambassadors to help the Korean people eat more better (with more butter).

2. “The Real Housewives of Pyongyang.”

3. A one-way ticket for Dennis Rodman on his next visit.

"Excuse me, honorable Man of Rod, what exactly do you mean by 'I'm staying for good this time'?"

4. Force North Korea to adopt an exact replica of the highly effective, productive and functional U.S. Congress.

5. Send North Korea fleets of refurbished Ford Pintos. (Google it, kids.)

6. Now that it’s October, make sure that North Korea has nothing to wear but white pants.

7. Introduce the latest version of Candy Crush.

8. Infuse North Korean television with “Who’s the Boss?” reruns.

9. Mandate daily twerking workouts, led by Richard Simmons.

10. Never tell them about Mr. Rogers, the finest human of the 20th century.

 

 

It started out simple enough….

“Keys.”

When I was a kid and going out somewhere, I’d always mentally check to make sure that I was carrying my house keys when necessary. Usually, someone was always at our house, but hey, you never knew. Better safe than locked out and forced to live behind the rusty aluminum shed in the wilds of our suburban backyard for the rest of my childhood, which of course, was *certainly* a possibility.

[On a side note, I never left the house without clean underwear on—a habit I still have today. I just never have to check to make sure they're still in place.]

“Keys. Wallet.”

When I got to my teens and had money to spend on a lifestyle that was more involved than playing baseball or exploring abandoned construction sites—i.e., when I was able to drive and go to real places like the mall or video game arcade, or even the video game arcade at the mall—the checklist got longer. Now I needed to carry a wallet, along with all the responsibility that comes with it: driver’s license, cash, my Sears credit card, a library card, that one hopeful condom … you know, grownup stuff.

“Keys. Wallet. Phone.”

Hard to believe that I existed for 14 decades without a cell phone, but yet somehow I managed. Like many of the best modern conveniences (EZ Pass, the intrawebz, sliced bread), now that I have it in my life, I can’t live without it. I mean, when you think about it, cell phones may be the greatest innovation of the 21st century in that they literally can put the entirety of humankind’s knowledge—plus The Bloggess and celebrity flesh—right in the palm of your hand. Oh, and I even actually use my phone to call people on occasion (that’s okay, right?).

 ”Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses.”

I’ve already described that as I’ve stumbled into my advanced years that my eyesight has deteriorated and that I now need reading glasses. And like with the phone, even though glasses weren’t part of my life a short time ago, they have quickly become indispensable. Gah.

So yeah, it’s funny now when I get to the threshold of the house, I give myself an odd little patdown, touching the various pockets in which I usually carry each of these items. When I was up in Cortland at Jets training camp, my buddy Brian would tease me as I went through my little ritual, repeating it throughout the day to make sure I had my stuff.

I can only assume as I get older, this trend will continue, with me adding more and more items to my repertoire …

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater.”

I’m already close to this—the other night we went to the movies and I made sure to bring my jacket with me … because the theater *might‘ve* had the a/c on in October. That … or my old heart can’t quite pump the blood like it used to and my extremities are always cold.

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater. Batteries.”

You know, for my pacemaker, hearing aid, Life Alert bracelet, iron lung and whatever other necessary electronic medical devices with which I’ll be festooned.

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater. Batteries. Cane.”

That one seems obvious.

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater. Batteries. Cane. Change.”

I assume that because old guys seem to spend a lot of time jingling change in their pocket, there’s something either enjoyable or calming about it. I don’t want to miss out on the fun!

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater. Batteries. Cane. Change. Change of underwear …”

Yeah, I guess that’ll be full circle, although let’s be honest:

“Keys. Wallet. Phone. Glasses. Sweater. Batteries. Cane. Change. Change of Depends.”

Simple, indeed.

 

So for reasons that I don’t quite understand and can’t completely articulate, I’ve recently been drawn to the time period about 100-150 years ago.

Maybe it started with some of the research for Connecticut Jerks and/or my fascination with Abraham Lincoln, and then has been fueled by the discovery of my strong resemblance to my great-great-grandfather, but I suddenly find that era very compelling—and not for the steampunk potential, either.

Sometimes "cool" is completely lost on me. And then there's ... *this*

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

Much like the experience of Wehr’s subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.

Anyway, in addition to looking at the earliest photographic images I can find, I also have been increasingly viewing YouTube clips like this.

Yes, that was from a century ago, which is remarkable to me—both in the sense that we have moving images from 100 years ago and that life seemed to be so very different than it was now.

I think it’s safe to say that our world has changed more from 1912 to 2013 than in any other 101-year span that you can pick in all of human history—in that time frame we’ve gone to the moon, split the atom, eradicated smallpox, broke the sound barrier, transplanted hearts and created technology that puts almost everything known to Man in the palm of your hand. And that’s really a fraction of what’s happened.

When I look at these images, it seems that the human race has physically changed, too. Yes, we’re more obese than ever, but we’re also living longer and despite illnesses associated with excess, are in better health. Kids are not dropping dead from polio any more, you know, unless they live in a part of the world where forward-thinking humanitarian warlords have banned immunizations to further their own agenda, or are one of Jenny McCarthy’s immunization-free kids.

Currently, the American life expectancy is 78.7 years; in 1912, it was 53.9 years, so on average we’re living 25 years longer than ever before—a full quarter century, which is astonishing. Again, with all due respect to natural selection and evolution, I doubt there has ever been such a jump in that aspect of homo sapiens in such a short period. I’m surprised that we haven’t gotten whiplash from such an abrupt change …

Then again, looking at the way we live at times and things we choose on which to focus, maybe we have.

Anyway, part of my curiosity has also been stoked by watching classic films on TCM—primarily the oldest pictures that are available. The other night I was watching Ah, Wilderness from 1935, which itself depicts life in 1906.

So many odd little quirks and things that seem to have been forgotten by history … in one scene, one of the characters sits down at the breakfast table, takes his cup of coffee and pours it into his saucer and drinks it out of that—and apparently, that was perfectly acceptable behavior for the time.

I saw The Searchers another night—it was interesting the way the handled horses, how they only rode them for a while, then walked them for a while. You don’t really see that practice in modern westerns, but it was standard operating procedure.

I’ve also watched silent films featuring Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, and although they play exaggerated characters, I’m reminded at how few possessions people had up until recently—usually one suit, one hat, one pair of shoes (maybe borrowed from someone else). Sure, in films about bygone eras we might see lavish costumes, but the reality was that for the vast majority of humanity, fashion was not a concern.

But other key points of our daily routines have been lost in the shifting sands of time, too. Outside of film, I recently read about how all of humanity used to have two sleep periods per night. In fact, it was such an accepted part of life, that no one even really commented on it at the time. Here’s an excerpt from the article link in the previous sentence:

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

Much like the experience of Wehr’s subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.

Amazing, right?

I wonder what things we take for granted will be forgotten by future generations … like the keyboard on which I’m typing? Rotary phones? Pogs? If things go as they’re supposed to, I’ll never know … probably.

 

Through the gauzy mists of sleep, I sense my wife gingerly rolling out of bed … “What time is it?” I ask before she can escape the bedroom.

She says

“7:12 a.m.”

Only six more hours to New York Jets football, I immediately think. (Sad but absolutely true.) I get out of bed and head to the shower. Even though every NFL analyst has predicted that the Jets will be the worst team in the NFL this season, I still am filled with unbridled optimism at the season that might be. Check with back with me in 12 hours.

7:32 a.m. I cut my fingernails so I won’t be tempted to chew them off during the game.

7:56 a.m. I begin one of my most longest-standing game-day rituals—doing my laundry. I’m not quite sure how this started (possibly in quest of having a special “good luck” shirt ready for kickoff), but it’s what I do now. If anything, it provides a distraction, and besides, there’s something very calming about folding clothes still warm from the dryer.

8:17 a.m. I sit down at the computer and start going through the roll call of NFL sites that I feel that I can stomach, which admittedly has been greatly reduced over the past years as the Jets have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Other than my cyber buddies over at TheJetsBlog, there’s not an iota of optimism out there regarding the Jets or their chances for winning today. It may be a long day, and an even longer season. Sigh.

9:46 a.m. Time for a snack. I *really* want Pop Tarts, but for some reason, pouring 30 grams of processed sugar into my already buzzing system doesn’t seem like a particularly smart plan. I opt for a pear. Yawn.

10:02 a.m. I check on my fantasy football team. The real NFL season started on Thursday night with the Baltimore Ravens getting their butts handed to them by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 49-27, and although disastrous for the defending Super Bowl champs, it was good for my B.A.L.L.S. …

Yes, at the behest of my son Kade who is starting to get into fantasy football, we named our team the Bendici ALL Stars, or B.A.L.L.S. for short. At least he’s actually 12 . . . I don’t have an excuse.

Anyway, thanks to Thursday’s high-scoring game, we’re already winning 38-5—we’re going to need every point as we’re up against a team that has Tom Brady. Hopefully, rather than seeing the TD-throwing machine that normally is Brady, we’ll see this guy later today—

Oh Tommy, I know it was only a second in time, but it has brought me HOURS of laughs.

Again, check with me later.

10:29 a.m. Screw it, Pop Tart time! I mean, what could possibly go wrong? Besides, I plan on running off my frustration later. How often does the NFL season start anyway?! (Very weak rationalization, I know.) GIVE ME SUGAR NOW!!!!!

11:05 a.m. SUGARRRRRRR!!!! YEAHHHHH!! How can it only still be 11 am? What the hell?!!

11:12 a.m. Another game-day ritual—a pregame phone call with my buddy Bob, a diehard Patriots fan. He invites me over to his house to watch football (the Patriots-Bills contest will be on), but even as he does, he knows that I will decline to watch the Jets. We make plans to get together for the Pats-Jets game on Thursday night, talk a bit of fantasy football and wish each other well, even though we both not-so-secretly hope each other’s team loses. Like on any given Sunday, I’ll be hearing from multiple times later in the day.

11:30 a.m. I put on the TV to try and watch some NFL pre-game stuff, but quickly turn it off. I used to be glued to these shows, but now it’s just a bunch of shouting heads shouting at each other about the most inane stories—mostly insipid off-the-field story lines and very little actual analyses of NFL games, which is what I—and true NFL fans—prefer. These shows are for the casual fans, and they are welcome to them.

Noon One hour to kickoff! Time for some lunch—I’ve never did a bunch tailgate thing as most regular Sundays, I’m watching Jets games by myself or just with my sons. (For other games, I tend to go out with my friends to sports bars and the like.) Today, my feast is salami and provolone on wheat bread, a nectarine and a few chocolate chip cookies. I make pb&J for my sons and try to keep both my anxiety level and lunch down.

12:38 p.m. Start getting myself situated in front of the TV, opening up various windows on my laptop—Twitter feed, Jetsblog feed, fantasy football scoring … football in the 21st century is a multitasking affair!

12:48 p.m. I finally look through some of the pregame shows. I see on NFL Network’s show, a monkey actually has picked the Jets to lose today. I guess that makes it unanimous. We. are. doomed.

12:59 p.m. I am so fired up I may throw up!!! Let’s get this started!

1:00 p.m. J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!

1:17 p.m. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith completes his first NFL pass for 26 yards. I already like him better than Mark Sanchez!

1:26 p.m. First score of the season—a safety as the Buccaneers snap the ball out of the back of the endzone. NYJ 2 TB 0. Not exactly how they draw ‘em up, but we’ll take it!

1:45 p.m. Touchdown!!! …. Bucaneers. Ooops. TB 7 NYJ 2. I curse loudly, which startles Kade, who is playing on his DS and half-watching the game with me. That’s good for moral support, though.

1:57 p.m. Jets answer with a field goal to make it TB 7 NYJ 5. Looks like a baseball score … but that’s okay, the Jets should have a couple more swings before this one is over. Most importantly, no butt fumbles!

2:11 p.m. Jets QB Smith fumbles on his own 5 yard line and Tampa scores a TD on their first play. TB 14 NYJ 5. Ugh. This Jets team is not built to come from behind, so this may be over already. Double ugh.

2:20 p.m. Another Jets turnover, via interception. Did I say ugh yet?

2:23 p.m. Wait, keep your hands inside the rollercoaster as the Jets defense gets an interception of their own! It’d be nice if they can convert some points before halftime.

2:33 p.m. And they do! Geno Smith to Kellen Winslow Jr. for a 7-yard TD pass, Smith’s first in the NFL. TB 14 NYJ 12. It’s a game, people! Kade and I do our “J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS! fist bump routine because that’s what guys do!

2:34 p.m. Halftime. I’m going to bust out a Coke because that sugar from the Pop Tart is loooooong gone and my nerves aren’t going to fray themselves, you know.

2:55 p.m. Second half under way. A few plays in and center Nick Mangold is down. I know most people don’t know much about offensive linemen, but this is a huge blow to the Jets if he’s out. He’s taken to the lockerroom—never good.

3:14 p.m. Nick Mangold (which would make a great gay porn name—not that there’s anything wrong with it) is back in the game. Every little bit helps with this team.

3:28 p.m. End of the 3rd quarter, the score is still TB 14, NYJ 12. Hope—always dangerous—remains.

3:54 p.m. After going back and forth in the middle of the field, the Jets finally get close enough to kick a field goal and go up 15-14 with 5:04 left. I see how it’s going to be this year and I’m not sure my heart is going to be able to take it!

4:07 p.m. Two-minute warning and the Bucs are moving down the field. Glad I cut those nails this morning because I’d be biting them off right now! I might have to start on Kade’s.

4:16 p.m. Tampa Bay kicks a field goal to go up 17-15 with 38 seconds left. Backbreaker! My heart sinks … but Kade is there to pick me up. “Come on, Dad! Have hope! There can be a miracle!” He’s right—although the Fat Lady is certainly warming up her pipes! Still the Jets will get the ball back for a last-ditch try.

4:21 p.m. Do you believe in miracles?! Somehow the Jets have moved it down to midfield. So close …

4:22 p.m. Penalty?! Against the Bucs!!! Putting the ball at the 31 yard line with only 7 seconds left! The Jets trot out the field goal unit for a 48-yard attempt, snap the ball and it’s …..

GOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDD!!!!!

 JETS WIN! JETS WIN! J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!

4:23 p.m. And there was much rejoicing.

4:35 p.m. I get on my running shoes and head out to the track for a victory lap (or 14) to celebrate—and bring my heart rate down. There will be time for watching highlights and basking in the glow of sweet, sweet victory later. What a great turn of events! Glad I started blogging it all this morning … I love a happy ending.

Hey, I don’t know what the rest of the season will bring, but today, it brought a big smile!

 

Sep 022013
 

As everyone heads back to school, it seems like a good time to talk about what I did on my summer vacation …

To sunny Miami!!!

That’s right, I’m now Mr. 305, the King of South Beach, a regular Florida gator … or not.

We flew down to Florida to visit my sister Joni the Whore, who lives in Miami, and spent a great week hanging out with her and checking out south Florida, where I’ve never been before! We also visited with my cousin Paul, his wife Lisa and their sons, which was also great. Good times all around. Good times.

Anyway, like any expedition to a place that I’ve never been before, there’s lots of new sights to see, things to do and places to visit. In fact, here are—

The Top 10 Things I Learned About Miami

1. It’s hot. And humid. Okay, that might be like, “Uh, DUH!!!” but it’s like, really, really hot and humid, especially in August. Oh sure, there’s a breeze by the ocean, but that’s like saying, “Oh, if you jauntily wrap yourself in Osama’s beard, hell is a little cooler.”

2. No bugs? We ate out almost every night—literally, in most cases, in Coconut Grove area (where we stayed), there’s plenty of excellent al fresco dining options. And through almost a dozen meals (including lunches), I think we saw one fly. One. No bees, no wasps, no dragonflies, no ticks, no roaches, not even a cicada.

How does that happen? Miami is a clean city, but is it *that* clean? Florida is mostly swamp, but I guess something about being near the ocean eliminates some of that—the cool breezes? We saw tons of birds, lizards and other critters that feed on bugs, but are they that prevalent that they make such a big difference? Apparently.

Of course, it could be that it’s just too darn hot for them.

3. Terrible drivers. Look, I’m not going to tell you that Connecticut has terrific drivers, because we don’t, but holy guacamole, the “drivers” in Miami are awful in a way that makes my brain a-splode!

Here’s some actual footage from a Miami highway to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

Seriously though—I’ve never seen anything like it. Speeds change randomly, no one uses signals, cars just stop in the middle lane of the highway for no apparent reason, tractor trailers drive in any lane and at any speed, everyone has a cell phone in hand and is texting, and like The Road Warrior, there truly doesn’t appear to be any rules other than the strong survive … oh, and that the traffic lights are a minimum of five minutes each. Crazy.

I guess I get it to an extent—with so many senior citizens on the road, there’s bound to be some … unpredictability. And when you’re so close to the end, who wants to pay attention to the rules?

4. Speaking of the end, I-95 does. So weird—as we were driving on I-95 from the airport south to our hotel, we saw a sign that says, “I-95 Ends.” And it did. It just went from a highway to a three-lane road with traffic lights, which is also US-1.

It’s just such a major thoroughfare here that I’ve driven thousands of times, plus it always has tons of cars, which has always made it seem sort of this odd, living infinite entity. But all good things—and even crappy ones like highways—come to an end.

5. Habla español? Between having studied it for a semester or two in college and my wife being bilingual, I’ve had to understand a bit of Spanish (especially so I can know when my wife and mother-in-law are talking about me). Thus, Miami wasn’t so jarring to me. But just be warned—it’s not the first language for many down there, and most expect that you understand it.

The good news is that there’s lots of excellent Cuban cuisine to be had, and we definitely partook with gusto. My wife’s favorite part of the entire trip was a 75 cent cup of cafe Cubano that she got while we were in Little Havana.

On a side food note: As good as the Cuban food is, the Italian food is not—again, we’re spoiled by living near New Haven, but calling your restaurant “Real New York Pizza” doesn’t make it even close. Ugh.

6. Not a lot of fatties. Maybe it’s the South Beach diet working for everyone, but like when we went to Denver, I noticed that there were a lot of people in really good shape here. Despite the heat, many people love being outside, and there were plenty of bikers and runners.

One thing I noticed though when it came to exercising—there are those who are genuinely concerned about their health and will jog in the morning before it gets too hot or in the evening, and then there are those who work to be seen—jogging in minimal “exercise” clothes along South Beach at midday, chiseled and tanned bodies glistening in the hot Florida sun.

Did I say "not a lot of fatties"? That's clearly when I'm not in the picture, like here.

I guess if you got it, flaunt it—and that attitude is enthusiastically encouraged in Miami.

7. Apparently things don’t really get going in Miami until well after I’ve had my warm glass of milk and am tucked between the sheets. Not really a shock to anyone that knows me … but then again, we were here to visit with my sister, not shake our booties on the dance floor until the sun comes up. (That is how the kids still say it, right? No?)

8. Did mention that it’s hot? And humid.

9. Everyone is fake. And by that I mean that there is literally a plastic surgery center on every corner. Seriously, like we have Walgreens everywhere, they are lousy with laser skin, body reconstruction and breast implant surgery centers. Apparently, they take that whole “beautiful people” thing quite seriously, which is another reason why I’ll never quite fit in.

10. Miami loves gelato. But I don’t—and I don’t understand the love for it as it’s more expensive, the portions are tiny and it’s just not quite as tasty as the best ice cream here. I appreciate that it’s something different and supposedly more exclusive than what we normally get around here, but it did not wow me at any point to make me go out of my way to have it again.