Still perfect

I’m 39 years old, which means I’ve been a legal adult for more than two decades.

All this time I’ve lived in a society which promises, among other things, a jury of one’s peers.

I’ve never been judged by such an organization…

and I still have never served on one.

Yup, dodged a bullet yesterday when my scheduled service was called off. I’d gotten notification the previous evening via a recorded line and a message that was sweeter than any Wayde Byard school cancellation I’d ever received.

My no-jury service streak remains intact for another mysterious number of years. Apparently there’s some kind of citizen rotation in these things but I still haven’t figured it out.

Let the record show I am philosophically opposed to mandatory participation in juries. Same reason I’m opposed to the military draft, and the same reason I’m opposed to conscripting anyone into any line of work. As far as I’m concerned the county can pay professional jurors to sit full-time and actually get good at it. Like the way that every other job in the world gets filled. It’s called the free market.

Man, I didn’t even get to pull that card.

Maybe next time.

This is where we are now as a society

In our ongoing quest to find new and unusual snack items, my son and I have discovered ketchup-flavored Pringles.

Not a misprint. Not a gag.

Currently available only in Canada, with the right connections (i.e. this thing called Amazon) one can get them shipped to the States.
The question for our society is… is this a new high or a new low?

In the Heights

Like most people in the world I watched In the Heights this past weekend. Watched it from the comfort of my home, which I guess at this point says more about me than about the state of the world.

In the Heights has one of those incredible Hollywood backstories–a movie two decades in the making. Its author, Lin-Manuel Miranda (that’s the Hamilton guy), wrote the first draft of what would become the stage musical when he was a sophomore at Wesleyan University. This was 1999. The following year a Wesleyan student theatre group put on the show, a one-act version that was, according to reviews of the time, “a hip-hop version of Rent.” Obviously no one had seen Hamilton yet and didn’t know this would be the style 20 years later. Reworked for trials in Connecticut in 2005, then produced off-Broadway in 2007 before making it to the Great White Way in 2008. Then there was Hamilton, so now Miranda can do whatever he wants. If that includes dusting off an old show I say go for it, because damn this one is good too. If you liked Hamilton you’ll like In the Heights. Which is like saying if you enjoy breathing you’ll like In the Heights.

Lin-Manuel, you got any more old shows lying around?

Please?

Weezer still bringing it

Like Santa Claus showing up in summer, musical idols of my youth, Weezer, dropped a surprise (to me, anyway) single on Friday, this after two full-length albums so far this year. (Yeah, that’s like Santa in January, May, and June.) OK HumanVan Weezer, and now “Tell Me What You Want” have all made me smile, and yes, made me feel 11 years old again.

Is it 1993? Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo says the band is “back to big guitars,” and that their new work is “Blue Album-ish, but a little more riffy.” Yes, riffy is what I want. Their music is popping up everywhere again… movies, TV shows, and soon the band will be back on the road (God willing) for its long-delayed Hella Mega Tour with fellow ’90s/’00s mega-bands Green Day and Fall Out Boy.

Somebody pinch me.

And new music?

“Got four folders going in Dropbox,” says Cuomo.

Heaven can wait.

Still a tradition

When I was a kid there was always one given on the last day of school. Your math teacher would let you watch the classic Disney production, Donald in Mathmagic Land.

Watch it? This was no small thing. Step one: procure VHS tape of said film. Step two: wheel television down from the “AV room” on its cart. Gotta be one with a VCR too. Step three: hope to God the VCR works and doesn’t just flash “12:00” at you and laugh. Step four: watch said tape. And remember to rewind.

Nowadays it’s much easier. Search the thing up on youtube and you’re watching it on any screen you like, basically for free. But you’ve still got to have a math teacher who’s willing to do it.

Guess who the math teacher is now?

New age, new offerings

Like a ruler dispensing gifts to his subjects, I present to thee the following donatives.

First, the standard birthday episode of Politics After Dark, available here at no charge.

And second, latest in the line of O’Connell side projects, my new podcast, Math and Musings, available here or wherever podcasts can be searched and found.

Subject?

Science, politics, news, opinion…

math and musings.

Hope you enjoy these, subjects!

Er, hope you enjoy these subjects.

This one worth it too

I’ve been a fan of Seth Rogen’s work for many years. Weird that I would look up to someone who’s my own age (well, he’s two months older than I am), but let’s face it, Seth was basically child actor when he was on Freaks and Geeks (he was 16 when filming began), and had already been doing standup comedy for several years. Yeah, he was like, a real professional standup comedian when he was 12. Sort of. “Professional.”

I learned these things (and others) reading Seth’s new book, Yearbook. I say new book, but really it’s his only one. “Only” one. He’s been writing about 10 movies and TV shows a year since 1999 so I hesitate to say only. He’s one of the more prolific writers of our time.

Yearbook is part memoir, part behind-the-scenes tour, and part just plain funny. A philosophical word in there from time to time as well, which I appreciate in Rogen’s movies too. He shares some backstories about a few of said movies’ plotlines, as in, here’s this thing that happened to me in real life and here’s how I worked it into a movie script. Love reading stuff like that. Though there’s always a little damn I wish I’d though of that first.

Short version: read this book. You’ll laugh.

Now make another movie, Seth! It’s been like 10 minutes since I’ve seen your last one and I need my fix!

Worth your time

At my house I have these things called books. They’re kind of like stories online… if you printed them out on pieces of paper and then you glued all the pages together. (Usually they come with these cardboard-y pages on the top and bottom called the front and back “cover.”)

Recently I’ve found two books worth your time. The first was written in 2018, though I hadn’t come across it until about two weeks ago. It’s called Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: The Informal History of the Family Road Trip. Richard Ratay looks back on the family road trips he took as the youngest of four children in the ’70s and ’80s, that God-forsaken time before cellphones, GPS, and online hotel reservations. (Seriously, I don’t know how any of us functioned.) In addition to his personal story–side note: he’s a great storyteller–Ratay offers the history of many of the roads and destinations he mentions. And that uniquely American contribution to the world… the roadside attraction.

World’s largest chair, anyone?

It’s in the book, and my hometown of Binghamton, New York, gets a little ink. The giant chair on top of Pa’s Woodshed. Haven’t thought about that since about 1992.
That one was a pretty short road trip for us.
And we didn’t need a GPS.
Tune in Friday for a hot tip on another great read.