February 27, 2008

Things in my apartment that got ashed on last weekend (partial list):

(1) brand new ottoman
(2) my only plant (deceased)
(3) two full beers
(4) Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche
(5) the floor

February 26, 2008

Please retire the following jokes

Okay, it's long past time to retire some fucking jokes. I don't think I've heard anyone who reads this use any of these, but in case I'm calling you out, whatever. You should know better and one day you'll thank me:

(1) The phrase "not so much".

(2) Blending words together to make fake words. I got some mileage out of this joke in AP History class when I suggested that Abraham Lincoln's postwar reconstruction plan should be called "Lincolnstruction". But that was over a decade ago. Fortunately, I have a feeling the always stupid and increasingly unavoidable Obama words (Obamamentum, Barackstar, et cetera) is going to suck the life right out of this joke.

(2)(part 2) Those AT&T ads where they smash multiple cities into one fake word like Chilondoscow or New San Frakota have been pissing me off for weeks. If you happened to work on these ads, please retire.

(3) "Best. [Something]. Ever." Just stop it. Please please please please please stop it. Obviously this goes for "Worst..." as well.

(4) That joke where you say "If by '[x]', you mean '[the opposite of x]', then yeah, [x]." As in, "If by 'studied for my test' you mean 'ate chocolate ice cream and watched Gossip Girl all day', then yeah, I studied for my test." It's time we turned the tables on this tired ploy. Start saying things like, "If by 'hungover', you mean 'dehydrated and fatigued with a pounding headache because I drank 12 beers and passed out in the stairwell last night', then yeah, I'm hungover." This is a much better joke.

That's all I can think of. But I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be revisiting this topic.

February 13, 2008

Watch him as he goes

Roger Clemens and I share a last name. Pretty much solely on account of this coincidence, he was my hero growing up. Clemens first made a splash in 1986, as a member of the ill-fated Red Sox team that lost a heartbreaking World Series to the Mets. The following year, my dad decided it was time to introduce me to baseball, and the first person he told me about was Clemens, indisputably the best pitcher in the American League. Dad didn't know if we were related to Roger, but the relative obscurity of our last name enabled me to hold out hope for years that I shared some of those incredible genes.

He's the reason I became a Red Sox fan. By the time he devastated most of New England by signing with the Blue Jays (and soon after accepting a trade to the Yankees), my loyalties had long since shifted from player to team; Clemens left, but I stayed with the Sox.

He's the reason I skipped class to drive to Boston for their historic victory parade in 2004. He's the reason I dressed up as Manny Ramirez for a costume party, ridiculously wearing a black pom-pom on my head to simulate dreadlocks. He's the reason I love Pedro Martinez in embarrassing and inarticulable ways.

Still, Clemens was always my idol. I remember listening to Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on the car radio in October 2000, on the way back from visiting my girlfriend in Massachusetts. He struck out 15 batters while throwing a complete game one-hitter against the Mariners, probably the greatest postseason performance of the last 50 years. He was with the Yankees at the time-- and god I hate the Yankees-- but I was there for him on every pitch.


I found out we weren't related when I read a fawning Sports Illustrated piece on Roger in the early 1990s. The article mentioned in passing that he wasn't related to Mark Twain-- aka Samuel Clemens-- to whom I knew I was related thanks to my grandmother's extensive genealogy a decade prior.

When people would ask how to spell my last name, I would always tell them "it's spelled like Roger Clemens." A major turning point in my life came as a salesman for a travel agency after college, when, having made thousands of cold calls to assholes all over the country, I realized more of them recognized Samuel Clemens than they did Roger. As a naive 21 year old, it was hard to believe anyone didn't know who Roger was (much less that anyone DID know Mark Twain's real name). It took me 15 years of hero worship before I realized that (a) Sam Clemens was far more famous than Roger could ever hope to be, and (b) it's far, far, far more interesting to be related to Sam than to Roger.

Another Roger Clemens-inspired watershed moment occurred this afternoon, during Clemens's testimony before the Congressional oversight committee investigating illegal drug use in baseball. When asked if he was a vegan-- part of a series of questions relating to why he accepted injections of Vitamin B-12-- Clemens explained that he doesn't know what a vegan is. (A fuller explanation of the questioning can be found here.)

I was startled by how sharply this statement drew into contrast the life I lead and the one I thought I wanted as a kid. Being a vegetarian is really important to me. So is having a working knowledge of lifestyles and cultures besides my own. And so is knowing the meanings of common words.

Over and out, Roger.