Archive | October, 2010

Wu Am I?

30 Oct

Dear Wu Tang Clan,

On December 22nd, you will be visiting Boston, MA and performing at the Wilbur Theater.  I will be in attendance at this concert.  The tickets are too expensive.  And some of your members have the tendency to show up hours late for gigs.  Or cancel gigs altogether.  And some of the best rappers in your group do not tour with you anymore at all.  And Ol’ Dirty Bastard is dead.  I will be there.

Which brings me to my next point.  You guys have put out some classic jams over the years.  My first experience with your music was “Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuttin’ Ta F Wit.”  I used to listen to it at summer camp with my friends when we were 12 and 13 years old.  One person would have to sit next to the boom box at all times and turn the music down at every curse word so our counselors wouldn’t hear them.  But since your glory days, your ranks have been somewhat depleted by infighting and mortality.  With that in mind, I would like to humbly submit myself as a potential addition to the Wu Army.

Here are several reasons why I would make a suitable candidate for the position:

1. I Know Several Words to Many of Your Songs
This knowledge includes select solo works as well as rarities.   I think it actually exceeds the awareness of some of the group’s current and former members.

2. I Enjoy Playing Chess
I have read that this is important to you guys.

3. I Can Bake!
Now, you have a lot of specialists in your ranks.  Inspectah Deck is like the Sherlock Holmes of the Wu.  Ghostface Killah is the one with the ghost face that does the killing.  Method Man, I assume, does some sort of science.  Raekwon is the Chef.  What kid of Clan has a chef but not someone who can bake?  Who loves brownies?  Wu loves brownies!

4. I Am Really Good at Rhymes
I’ve never come up with anything as good as “Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses can’t define how I be dropping these mockeries,” but I did once write a hip hop version of the Three Little Pigs for my school literary magazine that was so impressive that the editor thought I was plagiarizing.  So there’s that.  Plus, I am pretty good at singing in improv shows, which is like freestyle rapping for mostly white people.

5. I Am a Team Player
Am I going to go off and do a solo album when there is work to be done at Wu Manor?  Will I blow off recording sessions to score a Quentin Tarantino movie?  Will I go on the run from the law while still collecting welfare?  I will not!  I am Wu for life.  If I had been allowed to own Wu Wear jeans when I was a kid, I would have.  If I had any inclination at all to get a Wu Tang tattoo, I would.  Wu Tang is here forever!  Mother effer!

Thank you for your consideration.  You may reach me by commenting on my blog or pointing a bright light with the Wu Eagle towards the sky anywhere near Boston.

Warmly,
Josh Gondelman

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Fantasy Blueball

28 Oct

Okay guys,

I’m going to level with you here.  I don’t have a lot of “man-cred.”  I mean, I pee standing up, I don’t cry much in public, and I am slightly stronger than most girls I know.  But that’s about it.  I also teach preschool, bake, and know kind of a lot about musical theater.  The only thing that lets me hang around in dude-style conversations is that I like sports.  I can speak pretty credibly about basketball (my favorite) as well as baseball and football.  When hockey comes up, I deliver my stock: “I don’t follow it, but it gains so much live!” line.  College sports conversations I gracefully bow out of with a simple: “There’s just too much to follow, and I don’t know where to start.”

So last year, I let myself get talked into joining a Fantasy Football league with some friends.  It didn’t seem like that much of a commitment.  One live draft, and then I’d just have to update my roster once a week.  Football, guys, only happens once a week!  But somehow I managed to go down in flames, finishing dead last in my league and earning the ridicule of my league-mates.

This year, I was surprised and flattered to have been invited back.  Probably, though, the other guys were looking forward to collecting my entry fee.  I am again near the bottom of the league, and I have committed such offenses as: 1. Not realizing the season had started.  and 2. Starting two players with bye weeks at the same time because I slept late and forgot to edit my roster.  The other dudes are not pleased.

Somehow I also got roped into a Fantasy Basketball league.  This is exponentially more troublesome because I have to update the roster every day.  I am three days into the season, and I am losing my mind.  The very thought of Fantasy Basketball fills me with anxiety and self-doubt.  It is almost as if I were thinking about my career, sex, or fitness.  It has gotten to the point where I have been having Fantasy Basketball Fantasies.  Here are some…

Deus Ex Machina

One of the players on my fantasy roster gets outfitted with bionic limbs (a la Inspector Gadget) in the middle of the season.  Though implausible and probably unethical, the change goes unimpeded by league officials and RoboKobe plays 48 minutes per game (that’s a whole game) and averages 75 points (that’s a lot of points) and 6 enemies terminated (an unprecedented amount) per game.  He leads my team (The Fundamentals) to the title.

The Houdini

In this fantasy, I simply fake my own death.  I’m thinking something badass like mountain climbing or bear baiting (do people still die from that?).  Then, when my roster goes unupdated for weeks at a time, people will pour out a little malt liquor for me and talk about how much potential I had as a fantasy basketball team owner.

The Ball of Flames

This fantasy might weirdly be the most possible.  Cleveland Cavaliers fans, still despondent over the loss of Lebron James, actually take over the arena when the Miami Heat come to town and cause a state of total anarchy.  It’s like a combination of Misery, Mad Max, and the Pistons-Pacers Brawl all rolled into one.  After that, players decide to strike for safer working conditions.  Commissioner David Stern decides to take a hard-line stance against the players, and a season-long lockout ensues.

So guys, if you have any way to make any of these things happen, please help me.  I am a desperate man.  Or at least desperate and most of a man.

One For Me, One For You

27 Oct

Here are some actual things I have done while teaching preschool for fun and excitement!

1. While the students were napping, I drew mustaches on several of them with face paint.  This was funny for two reasons.  The first reason is obvious.  It is hilarious to see a tiny child with a mustache.  The second reason is more difficult to anticipate but equally gratifying.  When a child wakes up from a nap with a mustache, all of his/her friends will go: “You have a mustache!”  And that child will say “No I don’t!!!”  And this will go on until you take the child to the bathroom to see his/her mustache in the mirror.  Good times, everyone!

2. Our school is in a church.  Every day, we are on the playground when the 12pm (electronic) church bells ring.  The kids know that when the chimes start, it is time to line up for lunch.  One day recently, I told the kids that they could stay until the bells finished ringing, which gave them about five more minutes to play.  After each hymn the bell chime, however, there is a pause of about ten seconds.  I convinced the kids that if they wanted to play for a little longer, they should look over at the bell tower, pump their fists, and chant: “One more song!  One more song!”  It was pretty great.

3. Every day at lunch time, the kids ask me to make them up a story.  Sometimes they give me elements they want included (“A princess!”  “A haunted house!”  “A magic frog that turns things into other things!”)  Other times they just want to hear whatever.  I always try and incorporate their suggestions while still making the stories different from one another. Usually I try to wrap them up with some sort of moral or lesson.  But here’s the constant.  Every story starts this way: “Once upon a time, not long ago, where people wore pajamas and lived life slow…”  Which, if you don’t have an extensive working knowledge of marginal hip hop songs from 25 years ago, is the beginning to the song “Children’s Story,” by Slick Rick.

One time, my boss asked a little boy to tell her a story.  He began with my typical Slick Rick quotation.  My boss asked; “Why did you say that?”  And he replied: “That’s how Teacher Josh says stories start.”

Guys, I think I’m really making a difference!

It Gets Better. Unless you’re a jerk.

26 Oct

Hey Guys,

As many of you probably know, writer Dan Savage has a project going called It Gets Better.  The goal of it is to help gay teenagers who are undergoing persecution to understand that life will improve.  It is a super-commendable endeavor, and it’s gotten lots of support behind it, as well it should.  Hopefully the outpouring of support that Savage’s project has received will make a difference in the lives of at least a few bullied teens and help them persevere through a dark time.

Inspired by “It Gets Better,” I wanted to offer some advice to some other high school demographics.  This is not a critique of Savage’s work, just an expansion.  Here goes!

To The Math Nerds and Otherwise Twerpy Jews…”It Gets Way, Way Better”

Sure things may seem bleak now, guys.  Your body is awkward.  You’ve got an embarrassing white-person afro.  There’s no Snark Team at your school to showcase your best talents.  And, maybe you’re not actually gay, but people still call you gay.  It’s a less than idea situation.

But here’s the thing.  None of this will matter.  You’re going to go to college, and you have one of two options.
a. Reinvent yourself.  Start lifting weights.  Get contact lenses.  Drink more.
or
b. You’re going to meet girls whose parents made them watch Woody Allen movies growing up, and they will want to put their faces on your face.  Look at the popularity of Michael Cera.  Twerps are in right now.

So just do your thing.  But don’t worry about “showing everyone up at the reunion.”  Don’t be that nerd.  The one who snaps and becomes hell-bent on marrying the prom queen, like 10 years after high school.  Relax.  Don’t feed into the stereotype.  Find the prom queen from a different town.  She’ll like you because you are smart and/or funny.  You will probably have a steady job of some kind.  She’ll respect that.  Stay cool, nerd.  It gets way, way better.

To The High School Football Team…”It Gets Worse”

Listen, when you live in a small town with a strong football program, or even a weak one, it is easy to feel like you’re on top of the world.  I get it.  People like you and want to be your friend.  You get special treatment from teachers.  You’re untouchable.

But here are the hard facts.  Most of you will not play in college.  And even for those of you who do, you probably won’t play in the pros.  At that point, nobody cares how many touchdowns you scored in high school.  You’re going to need a job.  And if you didn’t plan for this, you might find yourself out of luck.  Blocking and tackling don’t really shine on a résumé the way an internship at the statehouse might.

It’s not hopeless, guys, but you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, or else you’ll be stuck in a life of working for your high school sweetheart’s dad at a factory to provide for the three kids you didn’t even want, but you’re Catholic so what can you do.  Just saying, buckle down and study, or at least befriend a math nerd or a twerpy Jew along the way.

Note: This is not about the football team from my high school.  They were mostly pretty good dudes.  But I’ve heard stories about other places with less good dudes.  This is about that.

To the LARP-ers and the Hot Girls…”It Pretty Much Stays The Same”

Some lucky folks settle into a niche right away.  If you know in high school that you’re down for a life of Dungeons and Dragons or Live Action Role Playing, then you’re set.  Sure, you will never be hugely popular in the mainstream, but you’ll always have a clique to roll (dice) with.  This subculture exists everywhere.  And it’s exactly as popular/unpopular wherever you go.  So congratulations, you’ve leveled off.  Get a high-paying web-design job and use your income on comic books and pewter Star Wars figurines.  Grow your ponytail out.  Drink that Mountain Dew.  Wear your “My Other Car is a Millennium Falcon” t-shirt with pride.  You’re home.

Similarly, hot girls, you can do the same thing.  Don’t get too into drinking or drugs, and you can have a good run with your hotness.  In fact, now is a Golden Age for hot girls, because with the popularity of Cougars, hot girls can stay hot well into their 40’s.

Now here’s the thing.  Don’t overestimate your hotness.  You have to live within your means.  This is crucial.  If you start thinking: “I was the third hottest girl in my hometown of 75,00!  I’m going to Los Angeles to be in the pictures!” you are wrong.  First of all, no one calls them “the pictures” anymore.  People will let it slide because you are hot.  But they will judge you internally.  Second of all, hot girls from all over move to LA to get their start in movies.  If you are not exceptionally, undeniably hot or exceptionally, undeniably talented, you’re going to end up in porn.  There.  I said it.  So don’t worry about “making it” and sharing your hotitude with the world.  Be the hottest hairdresser in town.  Or the hottest nurse in the intensive care unit.  Or the hottest governor (am I right, Sarah Palin?).  Hot isn’t like football.  It doesn’t take up all your time and energy.  So you can develop other skills.  Choose wisely, hot girls.

Personal Trainwreck

25 Oct

Most of the time, when I make choices, it’s because I think they’ll make my life better.  Better is a broad umbrella that could include financial gain, inner peace, romantic potential, fun, or any number of other categories.  Usually I make decisions in my own best interest.  But other times I just do things for the story.  This is one such story.

Two weeks ago, I walked into my gym (which I call the Planet of Fitness because then I can pretend that the workout apparatus is from outer space!).  The manager pulled me aside and mentioned that they were offering a free half-hour personal training session to some members.  He asked if I would be interested in scheduling a session.  Somehow, I can never turn down a chance to make a situation uncomfortable for myself.  “Sure!” I replied.  Great, said the manager.  He went off to find a trainer.

Now, when I envisioned my trainer, I pictured a muscular dude who was going to be disappointed that I’m not as strong as a real man.  But boy was I wrong.  It was a super-cute lady who was going to be disappointed that I wasn’t as strong as a real man.  Perfect.  We scheduled a session for the upcoming Saturday, and I went to do my normal lackluster workout.  I should mention, that there are times when I spend so little time at the gym it is literally like a placebo workout that I do to convince my brain that it’s okay to have french fries.

Saturday, I returned to the gym to meet up with the trainer.  For funs, let’s call her “Gertrude,” to protect her real identity.  We had to do an entrance interview.  She looked relieved that I didn’t have any medical conditions that might make me die during a half-hour workout.  Like, a little too relieved.  I was minor-league offended!  The rest of the interview contained honest exchanges like this…

Gertrude: What are your fitness goals?
Josh/Me: I just want to be able to eat pie whenever I want without shapeshifting.

Gertrude: What is the best physical shape you’ve ever been in?
Josh/Me: Unfortunately, you’re looking at it.  This is where I’ve topped out.

She put me on the treadmill.  Well, I got on the treadmill at her suggestion.  She didn’t lift me up and put me there.  That would have been deal-breakingly emasculating.  I did a five minute walk and chatted with Gertrude.  I am in decent shape, but I’m not super motivated.  I think she got the picture when she said: “We’re not allowed to make a client run during the first session,” and I replied, “Nice!”

Then we went over to a weight bench and did some low-resistance exercises.  I don’t think she mentioned my overall lack of strength, but she did frequently comment on my poor posture.  At that point, I figured I could have used a more personable personal trainer.  One that would just go: “Looking great, bro!  Let’s get a burrito!”  She kept reminding me to “engage my core.”  And I wanted to tell her, in my core…I want to be in bed.  She had me get into the “plank” position, which is like a pushup, but on your forearms.  I held the position until my arms began to tremble.  “You’re shaking.  That’s good,” she assured me.  “Is the crying also a positive omen?” I quipped.

The whole thing was kind of strenuous, but in a good way.  I feel like I understand how to do some things better now. Gertrude gave some really good pointers.  At the end, though, we reached a point of critical awkwardness.  “How was that for you?” she asked.  “Oh, great,” I responded.  “Great,” she said.  “How do you feel about going forward with me as your trainer?”

Oh.  She got attached.  And now, I had to break up with my trainer.  After one session.  Clingy, am I right?

“Listen,” I fumbled.  “That was really good and helpful, but I don’t think I’m looking for anything long-term right now.  I’m really looking to achieve my fitness goals on my own and get to know my own limits.  You were great, though. Like, super great.”  And then I said, in real life: “It’s not you; it’s me.”  What?  Why?  Should I have bought her brunch?  So many questions!  And I couldn’t avoid her after.  We go to the same gym.

She outlined the training regimen she would recommend if I changed my mind, and I thanked her.  Then, she really put it out there: “Hey.  We do these one-off sessions.  No commitment.  So if you come in and see me around, let me know.  The rates are very reasonable.”  Uhh, did she just offer to be a personal trainer with benefits?  Or whatever that relationship would be.

“Oh, yeah,” I said.  “I’ll totally do that.”

But I think we both know I won’t.

The Darndest Things

14 Oct

Here are a few cute preschool stories!

1. Love is in the air.
Little Boy: Are you a daddy and a teacher, or just a teacher?
Me: Just a teacher.
Little Girl: Are you married.
Me: I am not married.
Little Girl: Are you not old enough to be married?
Me: I’m old enough, I just haven’t found someone to agree to be married with.
Little Boy: Then will you be a daddy?
Me: Sometime after that, probably.
Little Boy and Little Girl: (Nod with understanding.)

2. Globetrotter?
Little Boy: What is in that cup?
Me: It’s ice and chai.
Little Boy: Chai? Do you speak hindi?
Me: I don’t, but that word is the same.
Little Boy: Is that Spanish?
Me: No, just English.
Little Boy: Oh. (Walks away.)

3. Come back, Shane.

I step into the classroom after being in California for five days. The smallest girl in my class beckons for me to crouch next to her.
Little Girl: Psst. Josh. I missed you!

California Knows How To Party (Alone in a Hotel Room Listening to Biggie)

2 Oct

Hey team!

Yesterday was very productive and fairly boring.  Here is a rundown of things I accomplished:

-Ate breakfast!
-Exercised!
-Wrote jokes.
-Wrote a blog.
-Wrote two sketches for a sketch packet.
-Went out for Thai food.
-Threw myself a dance party.

And after all of that, I still had four hours before my show.  Thanks, jet lag for waking me up at 6:30 am PST.  Today, fortunately, my show is an hour earlier, and I managed to stave off awakeitude for an extra hour.

It’s a little weird this weekend, being stuck in Cupertino up to my own devices all day.  It was good that I kept myself busy mostly, but it ‘s a funny feeling to be mostly in a hotel room by yourself.  I think I need to get better at napping.  Goals for 2011!

Also, can we talk about Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake rapping fairly credibly and picking some pretty obscure songs to do.  “Paul Revere?”  Way to go!  Good job, guys!

Anyway, if you’ve got any recommendations for things to do in Cuptertino, CA while on foot…shoot ’em this way.

Huzzah!
Josh