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Apologies for the lack of Meat of late, but my wife and I had a baby three weeks ago. And Work has me about as busy these days as Rick Santorum staffers trying to click their way into a solution to his Google problem. So, you know, Responsibility.
Thankfully, in the world outside my home, there are others — so called "Friends of Meat" (see at left), even — writing posts well worth reading. So go, browse. Come back to me next week though, dammit. Or I will break up with you in embarrasingly public ways. And the truth will come out.
Possibly the most profound and long-lasting of all parenting decisions is one of the first. Namely, what is it we and others are meant to call this new being?
I bring this up because my wife and I are expecting our third child in the next month.
We've already named two kids, and we're not without our ideas, but it's safe to say that we're not exactly sweating the name this time around. As of yet, we don't really have a clear consensus — despite the kids' entreaties to name him either "Baby Shrump," "Fred Baby," or "Diaper."
We'll do what we've done in the past and save ourselves half the battle by using my wife's last name (she kept her name) as the kid's middle name — a nice touch that I'd like to think will give the kids a better sense of both halves of the geneological family.
But still, that first name isn't easy — for us, or for anyone. So herewith, ten critical considerations; guidelines, if you will, for naming a kid:
DO IT RIGHT AWAY
Though we're folks who spent a week naming our first cat (literally calling him by different names to try them out), and two days naming our second cat — I can't conceive of doing the same with an actual child, though we've had friends and family who have. Among other things, it calls additional attention to the name once finally agreed on. "Herman? Herman!? It took you three weeks to name your kid and that is the best you could come up with?"
So do it before you leave the hospital. And for those of you planning to have a baby at home, don't sweat it — your baby will be called Moonbeam. You damn hippies.
NO NAMES THAT CAUSE OTHERS TO QUESTION YOUR ABILITY TO SPELL
Our neighbors have a daughter named Serenna [sic]. They pronounce it "sareena," as one would if it were spelled "the normal way": Serena. They're perfectly nice people. Honest. Good neighbors. But that double "n" makes me wonder if a spelling error occurred somewhere between the thought and the birth certificate paperwork.
I'm down, yo, don't get me wrong. But D'Andre? Amar'e? Please. No apostrophes, no hyphens, no semicolons, no periods, no lowercase. And for god's sake, no will.i.am lowercase and periods together! I don't care if you think it's cultural or hip or whatever. Save it for a nickname. No one deserves to be known by the state as something like T-Bone.
NO PET NAMES
Some relatives that shall remain unnamed (wife's side of the family; I'm just saying), have suggested we name the impending boy Puck. "You guys are literary, so you've got the allusion to Shakespeare" (A Midsummer Night's Dream), they say, and you've got the obvious hockey-crazed thing too. It's perfect!"
All true. Except that we're talking about a human being, not a labrador retriever.
NO RAP NAMES
Before you name your baby O-Dog or Crunk or Money, go get yourself a copy of Garage Band or hit a freestyle open mic night. Do whatever it takes to live your own damn pipe dreams instead of pushing them onto your kid.
NO STRIPPER NAMES
You can name a girl Destiny or Crystal or Chyna, but understand full well that they stand a far better chance of ending up as a stripper or a porn star, than, say, a Rachel.
YOU AND YOUR CHILD ARE NOT AS UNIQUE AS YOU THINK YOU ARE
We all seem to want to find a name that's somewhat unique. I can understand that. But by doing so, you run a heavy risk of too unique. Too unique is just not good. Too unique is really only for those rich enough to buy either friendship or protection — or those whose father is Frank Zappa. Because kids with names like Dweezil or Apple or Suri or Siri just wind up (rightly) getting the piss taken out of them at school. Every day.
REMEMBER: THE KID HAS TO LIVE WITH THIS NAME
Even without getting into Boy Named Sue territory, our names can influence how others see us, how we're treated, and how we feel about ourselves. My older daughter RK has a friend whose older brother is named Happy. We don't think it's his given name, but that's what his parents, teachers, and friends call him. And that, apparently, is what he will be expected to live up to. Happy. Might be fine now, in fifth grade, but in a few years when the teen angst hits hard and he wants nothing more than to sulk and listen to The Smiths?
Which leads us to...
THINK ABOUT IT LIKE A 12-YEAR-OLD
I run every possibility through my mental Rolodex of teasing. I mean, if your last name is Hoffman, you simply don't want to name a boy Jack. Because Jack Hoffman (say it: "jackoff man") is a bit too, well, Mike Hunt. So think about how your proposed name can be twisted by a snot-nosed 12-year-old.
KEEP IT TO YOURSELF
My wife and I refuse to discuss possible names with anyone but each other — a domestic life scar on behalf of friends who 10 years ago allowed to us and another couple that the two finalists for their soon-to-be-girl were Emma and . . . Sarafina. I can't remember if they actually asked what we thought, but — Tony-award-winning musical or not — I do know that I had an opinion on the proposed choices. And my opinion should have had nothing to do with their naming decision.
P.S. Their second daughter was not named Sarafina either. ;-)
There you have it, folks. Procreate away.
In past years, this post has been reserved specifically so I could shill for the publishing industry. This year, it's more like "catching up with consumable culture" — some of which is book-related, some not so much.
Here are some things I've run across in the past year that would make good holiday gifts. So go ahead, treat yourself or your loveed ones while boosting the economy in the following ways.
Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman — Split into three discrete sections, this looks at the CIA's (Culinary Institue of America, that is, not Central Intelligence Agency) Certified Master Chef exam, as well as the restaurants of chefs Michael Symon, and Thomas Keller.
Cooking Dirty by Jason Sheehan — If Soul of a Chef is for the 1%, Cooking Dirty is for the 99%. It captures the crazy intensity (quite well, I might add; this is a James Beard-winning writer and former chef) of actual working restaurant kitchens in a way I've very rarely seen in print — but saw in practice every day in every restaurant in which I've done time.
Life by Keith Richards — Easy, late night reading, but well-written, entertaining, enlightening, and insightful.
The Four Stages of Cruelty by Keith Hollihan — A sure-handed, fascinating, writerly, and suspenseful novel, from a first-time novelist not afraid (curse you, writing programs!) to have an actual plot drive the story. (Full disclosure: Keith is a friend. And I wish I had his slapshot.)
Wallander — For a good 10–15 years, Kenneth Branagh and his agent made it too easy for us to forget what a fantastic actor he really is. Here, he brings an honest, humble performance as a Swedish detective, in which he shows his age, his gut, and his chops. Excellent, beautifully shot, understated yet intense TV. Get it from Netflix or wherever you get your goods.
Sherlock — Another BBC production worth watching. An updated and imaginative take on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson — and starring the man with the most British name of all time: Benedict Cumberbatch.
The Other F Word — Great documentary about punk rockers becoming dads. Deals with the topic of fatherhood better than anything else I've seen or read. And the music kicks ass.
A Face in the Crowd — Classic Elia Kazan flick I'd missed out on until recently. Incredibly prescient (1957) look at how media feeds the cult of personality and vice-versa. Great performance by Andy Griffith as the lead, and it stars both Patricia Neal and Lee Remick. Be still, my beating heart.
I could walk around the following museums even if they were absolutely empty. Both are beautiful and fascinating architectural spaces, well worth the time when you're in town.
Pickling tongs — What? You're not pickling or otherwise canning? Get on it; stat! You'll need this cheap but invaluable tool. And a mess of mason jars. Here's a basic pickling how-to from Rick of Rick's Picks.
Busha Browne's Authentic Jerk Seasoning — Marinate chicken or pork, cook, eat, thank me.
A sharp knife — Using a dull knife for food prep is more dangerous than using a sharp one. So go to a proper kitchen supply store and buy yourself a good knife, or take care of the good one you already have.
I like beer. These are a few new favorites, all from excellent breweries. Give them a shot.
Or if you or a loved one is in or around Boston, give em a gift certificate to (and ride home from!) Meadhall, which has an insane selection (~100) of craft beers on tap.
I have no explanation (outside of a "vast right wing conspiracy") why replacement razor blades are so damn expensive, while disposable razors are so damn cheap. I just know they are. So buy your loved ones some replacement razor blades. I'm personally a Gilette Sensor Excel guy. I'm just saying.
Why buy a T-shirt when you can buy a TWM-shirt?
We have too much stuff and don't need more. We all have folks who have died on us that we'd trade every gift to have back. Agree with family to not give mutual gifts, but rather to put your money where your heart is. Do some homework, and donate.
That's all folks. Now go get your holidays on.
So, Red Sox phenom Jacoby Ellsbury is arguably in the running for this year's American League MVP. Indeed, he has had an outstanding season, and his youth, hustle, and matinee-idol Native-American looks — the occasional resemblance to Julianna Margulies notwithstanding — have understandably endeared him to a great many of the Fenway faithful.
You'll notice at right, the unabashed enthusiasm of young female fan at a recent game. We were seated behind her when I snapped the picture, but (click for larger view) her homemade — or perhaps in this case, I should say "HO-made" — sign reads:
I can be your
He's a Navajo. And she's calling herself a whore. Get it? Hilarity!
Now, when I say this sign was held by a "young female fan" I mean that she was no older than 16 or 17 and clearly sitting with . . . wait for it . . . HER MOM!
But it's OK, see, because Jacoby Ellsbury is rich and famous and talented!
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for sex. But there's a big difference between sex and old-fashioned whoring, and there's a point at which our current Jersey Shore-ian fascination with sluttyness completely turns my stomach.
I'm a forty-something dad of two beautiful girls (RK and E-O) who will, for what it's worth, undoubtedly soon be leered at. They will talk about what schoolkids talk about, but they're going to hear most of the difficult stuff first from us. Because the facts matter. And we'll not be leaving it to a snot-nosed little "Nava-Ho" to give their spin on the facts.
Still, they will be bombarded from all angles, and at all hours and geographies, by the message that not only is sex (at a young age, without love, or even friendship) OK, but that whoring oneself is also OK, be it for friendship or money or even — OMG! — reality TV fame. And we will try our damndest to impress upon them that, among other things, Jacoby Ellsbury is a full 20 years older than them and an unrealistic relationship partner, despite being, indeed, worthy of this year's MVP.
RK, E-O, please do respect athletic ability, and — sure — even looks, and fame, and money. But if you ever find yourself willing to trade sex for any of them, one of two things has happened: either your mom and I have failed you as a parents, or you have failed yourself as a human being.
Back before everything went digital and we all got blogs, I used to be better about keeping a sketchbook. I have several from those days, and I page through them wistfully now and then, pining for the analog nature of it all.
Each is filled with sketches. Ideas too. For plays, stories, artwork. Doodles. Chords and lyrics. Words to live by. Lists of books and movies to read and see. Often, just random things I wanted to remember in that long-ago era before we all walked the earth with cameras in our pockets and knowledge lived in clouds.
Like a bar spotted in Ennis, Ireland called Tipsy McStaggers. Or a pawn shop in Sioux Falls called The Happy Hocker. Or how a friend used to refer to masturbation as "shaking hands with the unemployed."
Or a sign at a church in Gaylord, MI: GOT JESUS?
Or another church sign in Brighton, MA:
C H _ _ C H
At the very least, they are filled with the innocent, immature, and occasionally incoherent, notions we all have when unguarded. At their best, though, they illustrate the growth of both my creative and analytical thought processes. And contain an immediacy and truth that I rarely, if ever, reach on the pages of this blog.
For that, I treasure them.
With production delayed for the next season of Mad Men, and the long, hot, bloody-humid summer still buffeting us with occasional thunderstorms of our own sweat, here's a 100-calorie snack post on which you can slake your thirst.
Ten phrases that will never be spoken on Mad Men:
In retrospect, when manufacturing giant Airbus placed an adtvertising buy with CNN, they should have known this sort of mishap was possible. But corporate suits don't usually think in human terms. Especially French corporate suits. And so, below, via CNN.com just the other day, we had the proposterous juxtaposition of Airbus ads running with an article about, well, the failure and crash of one of the very planes on whose merits they hope to sell us.
Analysis of information from the flight data recorders on Air France Flight 447 showed the Airbus A330 plummeted 38,000 feet in 3 1/2 minutes, four hours into the journey from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.
A preliminary report by France's Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA) found that the pilots were given conflicting speed readings in the minutes leading up to the crash.
Ads below; full article here on CNN.com (now, most likely, with a different ad).
Comment dit-on "imbeciles" en Français? Ah oui, «imbeciles».
Take one tournament bracket, mix in a handful of unhinged dilettantes, a healthy dose of The Interwebs, and pretty soon your typical March Madness has become full-blown Batshit Craziness.
Click the thumbnail below for a full-size, printable bracket. And remember, folks: despite their deservedly high seeds, there are no sure things in the tournament — even for those with last names like Sheen, Gaddafi, Lohan, or Berlusconi. All it takes is one Cinderella performance on a given night for a sleeper like Christian Bale to take out Mel Gibson.
Tis once again the season for stand-up philosophy, bald-faced prognostication, and linguistic prestidigitation. Herewith, the only hot list you'll ever need this year — in alphabetical order for easy reference.
|cloud computing||cloud computing with a chance of showers|
|coal plants||nuclear plants|
|"don't ask, don't tell"||it's 2011 for fuck sake; get over it|
|Glenn Beck||actually wearing tin-foil hats in public|
|home-brewing beer||home-brewing moonshine|
|"it is what it is"||"up your nose with a rubber hose"|
|Lady Gaga||‹15 minutes of fame|
|meat clothing||The Weekly Meat clothing|
|mining coal||mining natural gas|
|molecular gastronomy||vehicular gastronomy|
|Sarah Palin||Really? Still? Good lord, we're bloody stupid.|
|"snowpocalypse"||expecting snow in winter
|Tea Party crazies||tea party crazies|
|The Weekly Meat on Twitter|
|Verizon iPhone||Really? You're still stuck on the iPhone?|
*What? Did you drastically change your habits surrounding gasoline usage? Alright then, STFU and get on it.
Be safe out there this year, people.