Grandparents kicking millennials’ asses

I have recently learned that identifying oneself as a “grandma” is a growing phenomenon among twentysomethings who refuse to leave their apartments over the weekend and are adopting a binge-watching, sedentary lifestyle. Apparently many millennials take are taking pride in calling themselves old people trapped in young people’s bodies.

A far cry from The Greatest Generation.

As annoyed as I am about this recent trend, I’m thrilled over the reaction of the elderly, who apparently want nothing to do with these uninspired, sloth-like beings.


A piece in The New Yorker entitled Grandmas Ride Up Against Millennials’ Grandma Lifestyle is full of quotes from bad-ass old people who sound ready to kick these millennials in the ass.

I’ll be saving these quotes for future use as a life coach.

Many senior citizens argue that being associated with millennials is detrimental to the credibility they’ve been cultivating for, quite literally, decades.

Early yesterday, seniors across the country staged protests in their retirement communities, calling this trend downright offensive.

Grandparents are speaking out, disavowing any affiliation with the millennials who take daylong naps punctuated by brief scrolls through Twitter.

“It’s insulting. Today, I went to my water-aerobics class, played bridge for three hours, made progress on a Sudoku puzzle that has been stumping me for months, and tried a new recipe. Who has time to sit around like those kids, watching the Netflix all day?”

“When my lover Hal left me for my canasta partner, I got myself a new canasta partner. I sure as heck didn’t stay inside and drink three bottles of Pinot Grigio by myself!”

“He was wearing a raggedy maroon cardigan, a bowtie, suspenders, and pants that suggested that he didn’t really understand the purpose of suspenders. I didn’t have the heart to tell my darling granddaughter that her boyfriend looked like a bankrupt magician.”

“Knitting is a means to an end not an act of frivolity. It’s what puts Christmas presents under the tree and keeps my grandsons warm during the winter. What these young things don’t realize is that it does irreparable damage to your fingers.”

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Resolution update: July 2014

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I post a list my New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of each month, along with their progress (or lack thereof).

1. Don’t die.


2. Lose ten pounds.

Six down and four to go.   

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.


4. Launch at least one new podcast.

Author Out Loud, my first podcast, is still yet to launch (and therefore still not my first). Once we have that podcast running smoothly, we can think about adding a second podcast.

Progress so far: I found a much easier way to podcast that eliminates the need for much of the equipment and a producer. I would really like to start this month if I can get this website ready to receive.

5. Complete my sixth novel before the end of the summer.

Some progress. It’s more than half finished.

6. Complete my seventh novel.

Progress continues on this one as well. It’s possible that I’ll finish my seventh novel before I finish my sixth, which makes no sense. 

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

Work continues on five manuscripts now. My writing camp generated many new ideas. Quite a few are good, I think. Sending at least one manuscript to my agent by the end of the month.

8. Complete a book proposal for my memoir.

The proposal for a memoir comprised of the 35 or so of my Moth stories is complete. I await news of its sale.

Work also continues on a memoir that focuses on the two years that encompassed my arrest and trial for a crime I did not commit. These two years also include an armed robbery, the onset of my post traumatic stress disorder, my period of homelessness, and the time I spent living with a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It was a memorable two years.

I’m also writing another golf memoir about this season of golf. Since I haven’t played enough golf this summer, I may stretch it to encompass the entire year rather than just the summer.  

9. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

Nothing scheduled yet.   

10. Write a screenplay.

More than half finished. Still going well. I met with my screenwriter’s group last week. They approve of my progress so far. I’m over-writing, but I knew I would. Better to have too much than too little.   

11. Write at least three short stories.

I am still nearly finished with one short story.

I still hate this goal.

12. Write a collection of poetry using existing and newly written poems.

Done! The collection is complete and in the hands of my literary agent. I still await her response. She probably hates it.   

13. Become certified to teach high school English by completing one required class.

Still one class and $50 away from completion. My wife is actively looking for a place online where I can complete this relatively obscure requirement.

14. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a physical newspaper.

My first column in Seasons magazine published this month.


I also pitched a column idea to a major online magazine that is seriously being considered.  

I also published a piece in The Cook’s Cook, a magazine for aspiring food writers and recipe testers. You can read the April-May issue here.


None of these are Op-Eds. Please ignore that fact in the event I need to use these publishing credits in order to claim that I have completed my goal.

15. Attend at least 10 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I competed in a Moth GrandSLAM in Brooklyn last month, bringing my total number of Moth events to 10 and completing this goal.

I have plans for two more Moth events in August.

16. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

I competed in the aforementioned GrandSLAM in July. Unfortunately, I had to tell my story first, which made it impossible for me to win, even if I could have won. But given my record of second place finishes, I probably wouldn’t have won.  

I have another GrandSLAM this month in Boston, and that might be my last chance at a championship for 2014. There may be one more GrandSLAM in New York before the end of the year, and if so, I will be entered based upon my previous StorySLAM victories.

But my chances for winning are becoming limited.  

17. Give yoga an honest try.

No progress.

18. De-clutter the basement.

Small progress made.

19. De-clutter the shed

No progress.

20. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2014.

No progress.

21. Produce a total of 6 Speak Up storytelling events.

Our total stands at five after our most recent July show with additional shows planned for September and December at Real Art Ways and October at The Mount in Lennox, MA.

22. Deliver a TED Talk.

I delivered a TED Talk in March at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, MA.

I have also been contacted about speaking at two other TED conferences in the fall and am still awaiting word on my pitches.

23. Set a new personal best in golf.

I shot a 47 last week, which was one off my personal best. I have made enormous improvements in my game this month despite only having a limited amount of time to play.

I have a chance at this goal in August.  

24. Find a way to keep my wife home for one more year with our children.

We still don’t know how we will afford this, but we made the decision to keep Elysha at home for one more year with our son.

25. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.


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What do you want inscribed on your gravestone?

The Moth recently asked what you would like inscribed on your gravestone when you die in conjunction with a Main Stage show in Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery.


Since I have no intention of ever dying, this was more of a thought experiment than a real world exercise, but still, it was interesting to imagine what words might suit me the most.

After much thought, here is what I’ve decided upon:

Death is hardest on the dead.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this:
Who would you rather be?
You, reading this gravestone, or me, buried beneath your feet?
Death is hard on everyone, but it’s hardest on the dead.
Weep for me.
Read my books.
They are my feeble attempts at immortality.

I’m going to need a large stone.

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John Lennon’s “Imagine” is not a good song. I think you’ll agree.

I don’t like the song “Imagine.”


I know. For many of you, this is blasphemy. For years, I loved the song. Sang it whenever it came on.

Then I was driving in the car last week when “Imagine” came on Pandora. As I sang along, I thought about the lyrics in a way I never have before.

I thought critically.

When it was finished, I kind of hated the song, and justifiably so.

I think you’ll agree, unless you’re one of those annoying, “Yeah, I know the song ‘Gold Digger’ is demeaning to women, but I like the beat, so I want it played at my wedding anyway” people.  

The lyrics, with my commentary:

Imagine there is no heaven
It’s easy if you try (a fairly presumptuous statement at best)
No hell below us
Above us only sky (again, he’s assuming a lot)

Imagine all the people
Living for today (a nice thought until it’s tomorrow and everyone is hungry and cold)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do (borderline rude for those who find this hard)
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one (the fact that others suffer from similar delusions is not a valid argument)
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will be as one (does this whole stanza strike anyone else as drifting into Jim Jones territory?)

Imagine no possessions (communist)
I wonder if you can (now you wonder? after telling me how easy it is to imagine no heaven, no hell, no countries, and no religion, you wonder about my ability to imagine this?) 
No need for greed or hunger (there has never been a need for hunger)
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You, you may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you will join us
And the world will live as one

Posted in Critic, Music | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Lucky Nani

Luckier grandchildren.

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The solution to all of my ponytail, pigtail, and braiding woes

Other than simple brushing, I can do nothing with my daughter’s hair. I can’t braid it. I can’t pin it back with a barrette. I can’t wrap it in a ponytail.

These pigtails might at well be the Mona Lisa to me. Impossible to comprehend. Impossible to reproduce.


For at least a year, I couldn’t even get all of the soap out of her hair when I bathed her. My wife had to return her to the bathtub on multiple occasions to finish the job.

Even worse, I can’t remove any of the elastics from her hair at the end of the day without causing pain and suffering.

I watch my wife do things with her hair in the same way I would watch a Harlem Globetrotter manipulate a basketball.

Then along comes this man, with a solution to all my problems, as long as my wife and my daughter are willing to go along with it.

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Friendly’s slogans leave a lot to be desired

A list of slogans from Friendly’s restaurants from over the years:

  • “You’re in for a nice surprise” (1979–1982)
  • “There’s no place like home” (1985–1989)
  • “Oh, that looks good!” (2010–2013)
  • “High 5, it’s Friendly’s!” (2011-2012)
  • “Oh yeah!” (2012-2013)
  • “Where ice cream makes the meal” (current)

Damn. That is not a good list.

“You’re in for a nice surprise.” Not exactly encouraging. “You thought this meal was going to suck, but really, it’s won’t. You’ll be surprised.”

“Oh, that looks good!” Again, not a confident declaration. More of a reversal of expectations. “You think your cheeseburger will look like a greasy sponge, but no, it actually looks like a cheeseburger!”  

“Oh yeah!” They paid someone to come up with that slogan? I’m no even sure how you would include this in ad copy.

“There’s no place like home.” I hope the company didn’t hire an advertising agency to come up with a phrase that existed long before The Wizard of Oz made millions from it. “Yes, it’s a cliché. It may be one of the greatest clichés of all time, and I don’t mean great in a good way. But it worked for the girl with the red slippers, so maybe it will work for us.”

No wonder the company had to be rescued from bankruptcy.


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You’ll be shocked to discover who favors old fashioned ink and paper over digital composition

I’ve been teaching writing to students ages 12-16 for the past three weeks. Seven students in all. Every one of them is an excellent writer. A couple are legitimately gifted.

Two surprises:

  1. Five of my students write with a paper and pen and couldn’t imagine writing on a computer or tablet, at least for their first draft. Only one writes exclusively on a laptop (and she writes primarily for the Internet), and the other switches between pen-and-paper and her phone.
  2. A different five read almost exclusively from old fashioned books. Paper and ink. One reads exclusively on a tablet. The last switches between formats.

I was stunned when I saw these teenagers scribbling in journals and flipping through through pages. It’s not what I expected.

A month ago, I was walking down a long line of people waiting to attend a Moth StorySLAM in NYC, and I was both surprised and pleased with the number of people standing in line, passing the time by reading ink and paper books.

Could this be a sign that people are seeking a greater balance between digital and analog?

I hope so. 


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She can’t fly, which would be cool, but my daughter’s super power is still impressive.

My daughter made her own mask from paper, tape, marker, and string. I’m not sure what she was going for, but I think she looks legitimately creepy when wearing it.

I asked her if she is a superhero when wearing the mask. Her response:

“Daddy, you know me. I’m just Clara. But that’s pretty great, too.”

Even better than a superhero.

Unless she could fly and stuff. That would be better, but still.


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Sister loves brother

I am certain that I was never as sweet to my siblings. Not even close.

I’m not sure if I was even nice to my siblings.

Thank goodness Elysha’s genes are in the mix.

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