I Make My Junior High Band Debut at Age 39


This thing is harder than it looks, man.

Island Packet — I don’t want to make a big deal of this, but I performed at my first-ever junior high band concert last week. Stage and spotlight and my mom in the audience taking pictures and everything. It was a pretty big milestone, especially since it was a concert for fifth-graders and I’m actually 39 years old.

See, I never participated in band in junior high or high school for one very simple reason: I didn’t have to. (To be fair, I also possess the approximate musical talent of a sack full of jelly donuts, but it was mostly that first one.) I wasn’t just going to go “joining the band,” man, I had important demands on my time, such as getting really into pro wrestling for three years, learning to beat Super Mario Bros. 3 using only muscle memory and thinking very hard about maybe possibly one day asking a girl out. Band for me was not mandatory. Band at my son’s school is mandatory.

That’s pretty great, of course. Schools across the country are slicing away everything from band to PE to art to textbooks with evolution and climate change in them, so we’re incredibly lucky to have the 10-year-old enrolled in a place that not only prizes music education but also punches you in the face with it.

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Photography Turns My Generally Pleasant Son Into a Sobbing Red-Faced Mess

This is actually a pretty good one.

This is actually a pretty good one.

Island Packet — My younger son, 3, is a delightful little potato of a child. Where his older brother was cautious, he’s unguarded and impulsive. Where his older brother was quiet and thoughtful, he’s boisterous and shouty. Where his brother can subsist for weeks on Clif bars, microwaved bacon and blue Gatorade, he’ll shovel down three slices of pizza in one sitting and then, upon being put to bed, report with precious sincerity, “I need to eat a Pop-Tart.”

He’s a physical, external, gregarious little Weeble person, except in pictures. In pictures he’s a sobbing red-faced mess who, according to the photographic record I’m establishing anyway, lives the approximate life of a Dickens sweatshop orphan, only without all the whistling and hope.

I cannot figure out why this is, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of pictures that exist of him. I take a lot of pictures. A lot of pictures. Whenever the Apple people upgrade their iCloud storage, they check with me first. There are a couple of buildings on the Google campus named after me. This guy from Life magazine called once to be like, “Dude, is everything OK?” It’s a lot of pictures, is what I’m saying.

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The Secret Fast-Food Menu Items OF THE DAMNED (GQ)



GQ — As if we needed further evidence that the whole secret menu craze at fast-food restaurants has jumped the shark, yesterday a latte enthusiast named William E. Lewis Jr. ordered himself a very much off-the-menu XXXXL cup of coffee including 101 shots of espresso and 17 pumps of vanilla syrup.

What’s next? We got to guessing. Below, the eight next secret-menu items we expect to see:

Burger King: America Burger. It’s just a regular burger, but every time you take a bite an air horn goes off and the chorus of “Rock You Like a Hurricane” starts playing.


Read the full list here.




Embiggened: Here’s a Look at “Simpsons World” From A-Z (GQ)



GQ — There are TV shows, and there are apps about TV shows. And then there is “Simpsons World,” which isn’t even an app—it’s a portal, a wormhole, a passage into the 25-year-old Simpsons universe that, if you are a fan, will probably ruin your life. “Simpsons World” takes all five-hundred-and-fifty-freaking-two episodes and makes them accessible to you, in your couch ass groove or Spinemelter 2000 vibrating chair, all at once, right now. And that’s not even the best part: It cross-references those episodes by character, quotes, scenes, guest stars, songs, everything. It lets you create playlists of all the Bumblebee Man episodes, look up all the Albert Brooks appearances and read full episode scripts. It’s not watching the show, it’s HOOKING IT TO YOUR VEINS. (If you bought the DVD box sets, just throw them out the window like they were Grammys.)

Check out the full A-Z list at GQ.com.




Here’s Basically What It Would Look Like if the Cubs Raised a Son


When we get to Fall Ball, will you tell me the guys’ names on the team, so when I go to see them in that Fall Ball ballpark, I’ll be able to know those fellas?

Island Packet — Fall Ball is a form of baseball, and baseball is a form of sports, which means that my Little Man’s DNA is not configured to excel at it. Athletics do not come easy to this particular wing of the family tree, and by that I mean in high school, I lettered in stats keeping and that was about that. At some terrible day in the reasonably near future, my son will discover that, through no fault of his own, his cellular structure will seem to exist for the sole purpose of making him foul up athletic activities in as public a setting as possible, like in first-hour P.E. or in front of the entire girls’ basketball team, somehow.

He’ll learn that because his dad has some problems with the sports, something will happen when he picks up a football or basketball — his cells will immediately reconfigure themselves into a stew of bumbling, fumbling chaos. When my brain told my arm, “Throw the football with your right hand,” my left hand began moving for some reason. When my brain told my leg, “Take this football you’ve been handed and run like the devil, boy!” my legs began moving in completely separate directions. And when my brain said, “Just shoot the bad-word-ing free throw already, how is it possible that in 16 years on this planet no one has taught you to shoot a free throw without looking like someone just plugged a very old microwave into your nervous system and why are you thinking about this now just shoot, shoot, shoot,” the ball would careen off the backboard with a great and terrible CLANG.

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The Seven-Day Guide to Sleeping Better (GQ)



GQ — Medical experts agree: You need sleep to not die. But too little will impair your memory, hygiene, and ability to handle heavy machinery. Too much could lead to diabetes, obesity and heart disease. So how can you get the right amount of z’s? Follow our seven-night plan.


Related, sort of




Attention, Teachers: If My Son Seems Tired Tomorrow, It’s Probably Because of Pearl Jam

pearl-jam-jeff-vrabel-eddie-vedderIsland Packet — Soooo everyone here would take their 10-year-olds to a Wednesday night rock concert in a far-away city, right? That’s an acceptable parenting decision? Because I kinda sorta did this, and the response so far seems to be evenly split between “He’ll remember it his whole life” and “You are a negligent monster and we’re kicking you off the PTO.”

I agree with them both, because I started out the night with a fifth-grader whom I wanted to expose to new experiences, but left the show carrying my sleepy baby because he fell stone-cold asleep in an arena chair.

There I was last night with my son at a Pearl Jam concert, a good two hours away from his night-night books, bed and the school he was required to attend at 7:40 a.m. the next morning. And there he was, sound asleep, curled up in the chair like a precious little angel, albeit one surrounded by guys carrying 60-ounce beers and shout-singing lyrics from college. Given the chance, the kid will tuck himself into bed under a bundle of blankets and stuffed bears and read Percy Jackson books until 11:30 each night, but take him to a concert and it’s “Ohhh I’m sleepy at 9:30, did you bring a pillow?”

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Fish Are Expendable As Pets, There, I Said It


This was easier to find on Google than you think.

GateHouse — First, a confession: I murdered about eight fish this summer.

It wasn’t my fault, and by that I mean it was entirely my fault. The tale is long and tragic, but the short version is that when you’re driving a moving truck, it’s best to not leave Tupperware containers full of goldfish on the floor of the cab, because that floor gets hot. And that makes the water hot. And that makes the fish hot, and dead, mostly dead. If there was a bright side, though, the cab smelled delicious. (And if it makes you feel better, the frogs survived, right up until I transferred them into my new fish tank and they immediately perished, presumably from comfort.)

Second confession: I don’t have much experience with taking pets for operations. I’ve only done that once in my life, and it was with a dog, and it was less an “operation” and more “the last walk she ever went on, if you’re catching my drift.” But I do know this: Cutty’s non-operation would have been expensive, prohibitively so, and as much as we loved her, and as cold as it sounds, it wasn’t feasible. And that was for a dog, an animal that can interact with you, slobber on you, provide “unconditional love and companionship” or whatever for you. I can’t imagine what our financial cutoff would have been for a fish. Wait, yes I can. It’s zero.

Because fish, let’s be honest, are expendable. There, I said it. I realize I’m inviting volumes of hate mail from the nation’s lively lobby of fish fans, but I’m not too worried. Their influence lately has been… scaled back. I pretty much think they’re… fin-ished. Do you see what we just did there, how veered from an emotional moment about euthanizing the dog of my childhood to idiotic fish puns? We’re all about versatility today.

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The Day They Let the Fifth-Graders Work From Home


This is basically what it looked like, except with slightly less unhinged stock-photo joy.

Island Packet — I am lucky enough to work from home, which is pretty great. I don’t have a commute, or problems with the printer, or cubicle-mates. My wardrobe is usually somewhere between “daily jeans Friday” and “Jimmy Buffett concert.” I work on porches and eat a lot of waffles on the clock. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had a lot of jobs where waffle consumption has been this acceptable. Pretty much just this one and that one summer I robbed a Waffle House.

But working from home works because I’m 39. I can segment my time, establish a block here for working, a block there for lunch, 10 minutes here to change the laundry, 10 minutes to run to the coffee shop. I can do that because I’m old. I’d have been terrible at it in fifth grade.

I bring this up because my 10-year-old was home on Tuesday for what is known in his school as an “E-Day.” You might think the “E” stands for something critical, something so extraordinary as to warrant parents taking the day off. Like “Evacuate the school!” or “Excused! You’re excused because you’re sick.” But no. The “E” stands for “electronics,” and it’s a day — a mere two weeks into the school year — when kids are supposed to stay home and learn.

There are going to be three more of these things too.

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In Which I Try To Convince a Grown Woman That You Shouldn’t Eat Babies

A-Calm-Reasoned-Argument-For-and-Against-Eating-Your-Cute-Fat-Baby-by-Kim-Bongiorno-and-Jeff-Vrabel Let Me Start By Saying — This week, over at the great Let Me Start By Saying, I make a thoughtful, reasoned argument for why you shouldn’t eat babies. I feel this is a pretty logical point, but there appears to be some pushback. Read the entire debate here to find out exactly how I lose.   . .


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