Book Review – The Magicians

The-Magicians-Book-Cover-e1317909429117To understand The Magicians, you need to have read any Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia books.  You also should have watched Man of Steel or Batman Begins.   For all its length and ingenuity, The Magicians is anything but an original story.  It is not more than one of those old Marvel “What If” comic books.  What if Harry Potter went to school in the real world, not a fairy tale world?  Would Harry ended up <ahem> “boinking” Hermione by the end of book 2 and the Weasley twins?  Wouldn’t they actually be the school dealers instead of selling pranks?  What if Narnia was real?  What adolescent boy in World War II Britain wouldn’t have chosen to stay over there where he was king rather than face the Blitz for one more day?

Lev Grossman has done nothing more than taken those stories (with a couple little whiffs of Lord of the Rings, just for good measure) and brought them to the real world.  He has asked what would happen if adolescents were taken to a school of magic?  Would they become any less adolescent?  Or would they stay the same?  In doing so, Grossman may not have created an original story but the deconstruction of our cherished myths of Hogwarts and Narnia feels spot on.   

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Why you should be up and down like a crazy man after the US-Ghana match

A friend of mine was complaining recently about the lack of decorum that US fans were showing after defeating Ghana on June 17.  His reasoning, logical as always, was “Hey, it’s a first round game and it isn’t as if we were playing anything more than a 3rd tier team.”  My esteemed colleague has managed to get the facts right and the argument wrong.  This was always so much more than just the first game of the first round.  This game was always going to determine the US team’s chances of success.

Standings After Round 1
Team Wins Losses Ties Points Goal Differential
Germany 1 0 0 3 4
USA 1 0 0 3 1
Ghana 0 1 0 0 -1
Portugal 0 1 0 0 -4

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Looking back at my goals..

Well, resolutions, goals, or whatever.  Still didn’t do too hot at them.  I was going to do a detailed analysis but the truth is…I hit under 50% of them.  I’ll tell you – I didn’t do much writing but I did read 40 books.

On the plus side, I DID lose 35 pounds and am working out regularly, so I’ll put that in the positive category.

I don’t plan to write them down again because so many of them remain the same.

My 2013 Goals (Not Resolutions)

I want to explain something.  I am resolutely against resolutions. Things like “I will lose weight” end up in tears by January.  Instead, I’ll borrow a trick from work and make actionable goals – things that can be measured and I can see where I’m doing well and where I’m flailing.  And I’ll publish them, not because you care but because it’s good to publish your objectives.  Transparency always works in your favor.  So if you want, please publish yours as well.

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Baby Rules for 2012

Rule 1: Just because you’re tired doesn’t mean I am.  I like 5:00 AM – even on New Year’s.
Corollary:  Just because I’m tired doesn’t mean I’ll take a nap.
Rule 2:  If you feed me, you’ll see it again.
Rule 3:  The availability of diaper wipes is inversely proportional to the nastiness of the bowel movement.
Rule 4: I like milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt and other dairy-based products.  If you want me to eat it, add cheese.
Corollary:  If you want me to eat something else, prepare it for yourself.  I may not eat it, but I’ll hound you until you give it to me.
Corollary 2:  I’ll love it more and hound you mercilessly if it is your favorite food and there isn’t enough to go around.
Rule 5: The dog is my friend.  I will feed him.  I will be generous.  He will be fat.
Rule 6: Don’t bother putting shoes on me before you put me in the car.  Unless I’m walking on them, shoes are better throw toys than feet warmers.
Rule 7:  Just re-wrap the presents for Christmas or my birthday.  For the love of Pete, I’m a baby.  I get too many presents and you put them away for months anyways. I won’t remember.
Rule 8:  I’m not throwing my pacifier.  I’m working on my fastball.  If you got me a baseball, I wouldn’t throw my binky.  Oh wait…yeah, I would anyways.
Rule 9:  I like Baby Mozart, but Lady Gaga’s better for getting my groove on.

Lemonade Stand Economics


The weather outside is frightful, so it seems like the perfect time to discuss chilled, refreshing beverages.  No, not talking about beer.  It’s time to discuss the neighborhood lemonade stand.   I’ve got to say, the neighborhood lemonade stand doesn’t look much like what I grew up with.

At the end of a hard half-hour of work, I’m so proud of you for the $8.00 that your lemonade stand made today.  Here’s the scoop.  That $8.00?  Ain’t free.  Not even close.  Here’s the supplies you took out of the house:

  • Country Time Lemonade (Makes 8 Quarts): $2.50
  • Dixie Cups (100 Count): $3.00
  • Change: $1.00

So, the $8.00 made from selling 32 cups of lemonade?  It cost us $6.50 to make.  I won’t ask what happened to the other 7 quarts of lemonade or the other 60 cups that never re-appeared or the broken Tupperware pitcher that mysteriously bounced off your brother’s head and landed next to the dog who ran away with it and buried it in someone’s yard never to be found again. [Read more…]

Kids, There’s Rules to the Lying Game – Learn Them


Ooops, was I NOT supposed to buy that app?

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I came home to two boys thanking me profusely.  Imagine my surprise multiplied when I realized you were thanking me for purchasing The Moron Test and Scoops for the Ipad.  You see – I never  bought those games.  And I think we all know who did (yet you will remain nameless for this blog posting, in case you choose to sue me for defamation when you’re 21).  Congratulations – you’ve entered into a new phase of growing up – called the Lying Game (no relation to the Crying Game – don’t ask, you’re too young).

Rule 1 – Oops, I wasn’t supposed to do this, was I?

Don’t let me or mom fool you.  Trust me, we all do stupid things when we’re growing up.  That’s why we don’t let you play with firecrackers or juggle knives – we’ve been there (don’t ask about the knives).  So, what’s the rule here?  ‘Fess up.  You will get in less trouble, guaranteed.  You will get found out.  I will figure it out, Mom will figure it out, or more likely, your sibling will narc you out before the lie comes out of your mouth.  A family with more than one child is a more effective police state than the Warsaw Pact at its worst.

But you didn’t do that, did you?  You figured out my password (it’s been changed to something stronger now, thank you), you downloaded the free apps I asked you not to, and you decided to play it off like I did it for you.  Think about how likely that strategy is to work while I move to Rule #2. (And no – the Ipad has not been hacked by some stranger who downloaded the very game you had been asking me to get for you.  The Ipad Robin Hood does not exist.)

Rule 2 – The Calm Before The Storm

Do you remember when you were younger that Mom and I would come down hard when you lied, cheated, or opened your moth while chewing spaghetti?  We don’t do that as much any more, do we?  There’s a method to the madness.  We teach you early so you know later what is expected.  So, we don’t come down too hard on you.  We give you the rope.

But don’t mistake this for stupidity or acceptance (more on acceptance later).  We know exactly what you did.  We have 35-40 years of experience here (and your brother will still narc you out).  We may choose not to act, we may ignore it because we need to save our stick for bigger items. But there are two things going on in the background:

  • We don’t like it
  • We’re storing it up and you’ll pay one way or the other.  You know how you wanted to hang out with your friends Friday night?  Hmmm, can I trust you or not?  It all comes back and when it comes back, we will invoke the BA Baracus rule.

Rule 3 – The B.A. Baracus Rule

You don’t know Mr.  Baracus.  Let me introduce him…”I pity the fool who goes on lyin’, cuz their dad is gonna start them cryin’.”  A great man, full of wisdom.  When I decide to call you on your lie, there is only one option and it’s not stonewalling.  If there was any doubt in my mind, I would have invoked rule 2.  You have exactly one choice here – beg for forgiveness.  Any stonewalling will result in most dire consequences.  Seriously.  I’ll go from Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk – without the physique or the hitting things portion.  I think you found this out last night.

So, there you are – the rules of the game.  Enjoy them, know I still love you and, by the way, you still can’t keep the Moron Test on the Ipad.