Happy New Year, my friends!
Sorry for the delayed absence. After two weeks of vacation, I've practically forgotten how to type, shower, shave, speak English, or wear clothes while eating.
On the plus side, I've confirmed that my true life's destiny is to become a professional bon vivant. I remember when my immigrant father retired, he was worried about how he was going to spend his days after working non-stop his entire life. Screw that!
If anything, the past two weeks have taught me that I would be fucking fantastic at retired life. Bring me your finest meats and cheeses! Who wants another mai tai?
Anyway, I'm still readjusting to normal society. I promise to write more in the coming year. Meanwhile, here are a few quick thoughts:
SANTA CLAUS: THE CARROT AND THE STICK
Sadly, I regret to inform all of you that we never made it to see Santa this year for the annual photo session. Whenever I mentioned it, the Peanut started freaking out.
On the plus side, she learned about Santa at school. She doesn't know about the elves or the North Pole or any of that shit. However, she gets the gist that if she behaves like a good girl, Santa will bring her presents.
For the past month, whenever she started giving me attitude, I'd just give her the Korean Death Stare (KDS,) reach for my cell phone, and say, "That's it. I'm calling Santa right now!" Wham! Total obedience.
And now, even though Christmas is over, I've got the whole thing down to a science. Whenever the Peanut gets cranky, I just lean over and whisper softly in her ear, "Santa." It's awesome.
That whole thing I said a few weeks ago about not wanting my daughter to be concerned with an omnipotent mythical father figure making value judgments about her behavior? Forget I ever mentioned it.
OPEN MOUTH, INSERT FOOT (AGAIN!)
For the record...from now on, I am NEVER going to ask a woman if she's pregnant unless she's in the hospital, has her feet in stirrups, and is pushing out a baby.
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL
One of the highlights of my vacation was just having hours upon hours to read leisurely while lying on the beach. Even though I'm a speed reader, I was still tearing through books like a mofo. Anyway, because many of you often e-mail me and ask what I'm reading, here's a quick recap of what I've read over the past week:
Free Food for Millionaires (Min Jin Lee): Very impressive but somewhat flawed debut novel about an angry young Korean-American woman, raised by status-conscious immigrant parents in Queens, who falls out with them after she graduates from Princeton. Although the characters' troubles and struggles are cross-cultural, I think those of you whom are of Asian descent would appreciate this book more. It's almost great.
After Dark (Haruki Murakami): Classic Murakami. As always, his writing is hypnotically alluring and filled with themes of loneliness and alienation. Delicate. Suspenseful. And magical. If you've never read Murakami before, this is a good book with which to start.
Life Lessons from America's Greatest Writers: This is an anthology of never-before-published short essays by America's literary greats, culled from speeches they've given over the years at the annual PEN/Faulkner gala. Particularly great pieces from George Plimpton, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Hoffman, Hoyce Carol Oates, and William Styron. Great toilet-reading material.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (John Perkins): The author claims to have been chief economist at a private firm helping U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals cajole and blackmail foreign leaders into serving U.S. foreign policy and awarding lucrative contracts to American business. I don't know what annoyed me more about this book, the poor writing or the self-inflated pretension. Skip it.
NEIL CUMPSTON: WORLD'S GREATEST FILM REVIEWER
I admit it. I'm a total effete film snob. My tastes usually run towards quirky or daring independent films, obscure foreign films, or arthouse movies. I see films at Lincoln Center. I read Film Comment magazine. And I have a little nerd crush on Pauline Kael and her writing.
Ironically, I usually hate people who are snobs about anything. Take music for example. Is there anything more annoying than speaking to a music buff who keeps dropping references to bands that you've never even heard of? That's why I generally keep my film preferences to myself.
MetroBro, a writer/director of independent films who not only shares my film sensibilities but also my strange sense of humor, recently sent me a link to a few reviews by Neil Cumpston, a brilliantly foul-mouthed film reviewer who is the most refreshingly honest critic writing today. It's like reading a review by your drunk uncle who suffers from Tourette's.
Take for example, his review of the forthcoming J.J. Abrams-produced horror flick CLOVERFIELD (Warning: language NSFW)...
"So here's the story: a monster attacks News York City. But that's not the fucked-up part.
The monster RIPS THE LIVING SHIT out of the city, and everyone in its path. It's like the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina and Kathy Griffin's vagina combined and turned into a giant murder-beast and it's hungry for every hip person in Manhattan.
Which is another cool thing about the movie – everyone that's getting eaten are like characters you see in those annoying movies that are always on IFC and Fagdance. Movies with titles like Thinkin' 'Bout Being Sad and Zoe Gets a Latte and 2 Bedrooms.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the giant monster starts rubbing itself on buildings, and then stuff falls off it's gross body and crawls the fuck away – only the crawling-away stuff doesn't stay away for long, if you know what I mean...Also, I don't know if the movie-makers are looking for poster quotes, but this movie is like a pussy that eats YOU out."
NEXT YEAR'S BONUS WILL BE PAID IN SNARK
As most people understand, 2007 was a tough year for the economy. For those of us who run small businesses dependent on the retail market, it was especially tough. Personally, my company had a rough year. Consumer spending was down. Sales were down. Margins were lower. Meanwhile, health care costs, taxes, and Manhattan office rents went through the fucking roof.
Despite the bad year, I not only threw a holiday party for all my employees but I also gave everyone a cash bonus. I wanted them to have some extra money so they could really enjoy the holidays with their families. This wasn't easy for me to do. In fact, in order to do it, I had to borrow money from the bank and forgo giving myself any bonus.
I have 10 employees working for me. For each one, I wrote a personal note, gave them a gift that I bought myself, and enclosed a bonus check. Guess how many of them thanked me? TWO! Is that fucking incredible or what? Not surprisingly, the only ones who thanked me were older.
As for the younger ones? What do you think it was? Lack of manners? Sense of entitlement? Ignorance about the state of the economy? Upbringing? I've told this story to a few friends my age and it didn't seem to surprise any of them. WTF?
My daughter is three. And if you handed her a piece of shit off the sidewalk, she'd still look you right in the eye, smile, and say, "thank you very much."
MELANCHOLY AND THE INFINITE SADNESS
I think I've got the post-holiday blues. Or maybe I'm suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affliction Disorder.) I spent the past 4 days out at the Doctor's house in the Hamptons. He's got this incredible Sonos/Rhapsody sound system. Basically, you can listen to any song ever written in the entire universe. For the past 4 days, I was loading up his music queue with the world's most depressing songs. Finally, the Doctor had to grab the remote control from my hands and smack me on the fucking head. Anyway, in case you're interested, here are my five favorite current depressing songs:
1. "Landslide" by Smashing Pumpkins
2. "Everybody Hurts" by REM
3. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division
4. "Scientist" by Coldplay
5. "Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley
Quick. What's your favorite depressing song?
MY VAPIDLY SUPERFICIAL NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
1. Wear suits more. Cargo pants less.
2. Stop experimenting with my facial hair.
3. Never drink cheap booze again.
4. Take sushi-making class.
5. Eat foie gras and fried chicken whenever the fuck I want.
You guys got any good resolutions for the coming year? Let's hear them.
Next post: Yeah, I bought my daughter a Cinderella doll for Christmas. Got a problem with that?