Around The Horn: Things You Get Used To

It’s spider season in our neighborhood.  This means that even the quickest trip outside (to take out trash, recycling, compost, laundry) results in running into two or three spiderwebs with my face.  Going for a walk equals ten more encounters (recently, a strand broke across my eyeballs, and another time, a partial web went into my mouth).

Giant communal spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas; looks like my apartment

Giant communal spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park, Texas; looks like my apartment

Around the Horn: Simple Genius

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the close up shot. I ate the pizza too quickly to shoot it.

Thanks to Wikimedia Commons for the close up shot. I ate the pizza too quickly to shoot it.

Last month I went to New Haven, CT with my husband who was raving about the pizza. It’s been many years but he had been dreaming of going back specifically to enjoy the white clam pizza from Frank Pepe’s – a local joint that has been much lauded for being the best pizza in America (out of the top 101).  He had built up so much anticipation that I was expecting to be slightly underwhelmed. But I gotta say, the first bite was a spiritual experience for me.  The pizza was perfectly charred, crisp on the bottom with a bit of chew to the dough.  The cheese was brimming with briny puddles of clams that packed an umami punch and miraculously did not make the crust soggy.  Seasoned with touches of fresh garlic and oregano, this pizza was so simple, so pure and satisfying.   The pies are wonderfully rustic and oblong, fitting perfectly on an industrial aluminum cookie sheet the size of 24”  flat screen tv.  And, I ended up eating half of that flat screen tv.

Around the Horn: Teacher, Teacher


As my fellow Offenders know, I’m starting this week as the new Head of Playwriting at Columbia University. Not surprisingly, I’m excited and nervous about my new responsibilities, and obviously want to do as well as I can for my students. Way back when I was an undergraduate, I decided to try playwriting, but my university didn’t offer any playwriting classes. So I found a professor in the Creative Writing Department who was a novelist, but taught a class in dramatic literature, and asked him to read my fledging efforts. He told me my plays were really bad, which they were — that I had the desire to write plays, but didn’t actually know anything about the theatre. This same professor, John L’Heureux, then went on to help me design a playwriting major, and became my advisor for the next three years, leading to the writing of my first full-length play, FOB. John was my first important mentor, and we’ve remained friends to this day.

How about you guys? As advice to a new faculty member, what’s the best experience you had with a teacher? Or, as a cautionary note, you could also share your worst ones.

Around the Horn: Time Oh Give Me Time



Loving what you do even when you’re not doing it all that much.

Times in the film industry are tough in LA.  So, I’ve made the decision to go from freelance videographer and visual effects artist to doing corporate work for the litigation industry.  Seems sad that I wouldn’t be doing what I love on a day to day basis.  Now, that I’m starting my journey into the corporate work force, I find myself more… creative?  What?  How can that be?

Funny how when you know you have a lot of time to do something, you don’t utilize that time well, for me anyway.  I sit in my office and say, “Look at all this time I have to be creative, I’ll make something awesome… one day.”  For years, I’ve been saying that, but all I do is prep the ideas and leave things undone.  But, now my time is limited and I see only short windows opportunity to do something… anything creative.  So, I went back to my roots as a graphic artist and did something I loved within films and the poster art arena… so, that’s what I went with.  Finally, I made something I liked and that I knew I could finish within the time allowed.  I definitely felt my love of creation more because I made time for it.

Around the Horn: Weird Family Advice

That's my dad!!!!

That’s my dad!!!!

My dad -to me- is the king of quotes. Not that he quotes anyone in particular, but he deposits little adages here and there in such meme-worthy bite-sized-ness that he is nothing but a series of Jack Handy advice quips. My mom screams out the same advice repeatedly so she represents a broken record to me.

The more bizarre (and yet I somewhat do take into consideration years down the line) advice I’ve received from them include:

Around the Horn: My Kids Playing Football aka Future Concussions

With the NFL football season quickly approaching, there will be many men and some women in America that will have their Sundays completely booked sitting on their couch glued to the TV. I never really had a desire to play for a real organized team growing up like in High School but I did love the sport. I grew up watching the San Francisco Forty Niners with Joe Montana and Jerry Rice bringing the city multiple Super Bowls trophies. But recently in the last 5 years, there has been many scientific test and testimonies from older players who have been suffering very bad head traumas and concussions that have left them scarred for life where they become poor paying for medical treatment.. The players union have sued the NFL and NFL sorta swept the problem away by paying them all off. Even though the NFL avoided being blamed for the cause for being a vicious sport and helmet to helmet violence, its still a scary thought to see a player being completely knocked out cold on the field. Football is even one of the worst sports salary contracts for their players compared to basketball and baseball but yet football’s revenue brings in one of the highest in all sports. My question this week to the Offenders is if your kids or future kids wanted to play football, would you let them play? Say it was High School football, maybe even college and you knew the level of competition was high where the chances are more likely for life threatening injuries could happen, would you want them to play?


Around the Horn: Is Colorblind Casting OK in the Comics Movie Universe?


In our weekly check-in lunch last Tuesday, some of the Offenders started talking geek speak, with everyone generally excited that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is doing well and that it is a solid film. But then, the conversation took a turn when the discussion of future Marvel films came up, specifically the new FANTASTIC FOUR reboot, with the casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch. Some individuals thought the casting of an African American actor for a, “historically” Caucasian looking character portrayed in the pages of Marvel comics. An individual felt that the Human Torch is so iconic and him being blonde and blue-eyed was inherent in the character and that’s just the way it is. Another individual agreed and said it was simply stunt casting to have Jordan be the Human Torch and also the brother of Sue Storm, played by the obviously Caucasian Kate Mara. The argument soon escalated with defenders of the casting saying it doesn’t matter on skin color, just as long as the actor chosen has the inherent characteristics of Johnny Storm (i.e. cocky, free spirited, from New York and American), then what does it matter? Before long, other iconic characters were brought up, like James Bond. There’s been talk of Idris Elba possibly portraying 007 in future movies. Does it matter?

Around The Horn: Stop That Thief!

Today I’d like to address a sensitive subject: childhood thievery. 

Not kids being stolen off the street or depressing crap like that, but the stuff you stole as a child (and please, do not tell me you never took a five-finger discount when you were a kid).


Let’s use a cut-off age of ten years old. 

I remember stealing two things: packs of gum (various, but especially Bubble Yum) and the fancy metal caps off car tire valves.  They were the “hip” thing to have for your bicycle tires, and I didn’t have the money for them.   Soooooo….I cruised the parking lot of Sears until I found a car with shiny silver valve caps, crouched down, and stole a pair for my bike.

Around the Horn: The High Cost of Food

Vintage Cave, Hawaii

Vintage Cave, Hawaii

How much is too much for a meal? How much would you pay for food? In Hawaii, Vintage Cave has a set menu price of $295 and Sushi Ginza Onodera has a omakase set menu price of $250. Would you pay this much for just one dinner (drinks not included)? How much do you value what you eat, and the way it is prepared and presented? What’s the most you’ve paid for a meal?

ALFREDO: For the meal itself, I have no idea what I would be willing to pay. I like good food, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really a “foodie,” so it comes down to the overall experience for me – yes, what I’m putting in my belly, but more importantly, who I am with, my state of mind, the million and one particulars of that moment. For a great food “experience,” I don’t mind opening my wallet. I have one dear friend who always makes me laugh no matter what kind of day or week or year I’m having: with him, ridiculously overpriced sushi or cold pizza out of the fridge are pretty much the same to me.

AROUND THE HORN – Yo best Kiddie Joke

Jokes of youth.

What’s that one joke you told as a young child that made you and your friends laugh so hard that your tummy muscles burned, you could hardly breathe, and you accidentally farted in blissful delight?

As a dad of three very young girls, I’ve have the good fortune of observing developing youth and all the innocence and discovery that comes with it.  My oldest, who is now 5 ½ years of age, has started coming home from school armed with jokes.  What’s ironic is that many of her jokes are the exact same jokes I was telling at her age.  So it’s fascinating to watch as she saunters up to me with a mischievous grin and a giggle and blurts, “Hey dad, wanna hear a joke?”  And then she lays it on me.  I laugh.  I mainly find her jokes funny because I find it cute that she’s trying to make me laugh.  But for her…wow.  She just busts up laughing like she’s on drugs.  And what’s even funnier is how her 3 ½ and 1 ½ year old sisters end up rolling on the floor, cracking up like they are on drugs too.  I don’t think the younger two really understand the jokes.  They’re just being infected by the uncontrollable laughter of big sis.  And though I don’t personally find my kids’ jokes funny from a purely humorous perspective, I can’t help but enjoy and laugh along with the sounds of childhood delight.  OK, it’s more like high-pitched cackling mixed with struggled breathing.

Which brings me to this – What’s that one childhood joke that you found insanely funny when a youth?  Here’s mine…

My Joke:  

A bunny and a bear are sitting next to each other on a log taking a dump.  After a few pushes and grunts, the bear looks over at the bunny and says…

BEAR – “Bunny, do you ever have problems with poo sticking to your fur?”

BUNNY – “Why no Bear.  Why do you ask?”

And with that, Bear grabbed Bunny and wipes his butt with Bunny.


I know, perhaps not so funny as an adult.  But this joke delivered hours upon hours of gut-aching laughter as a kid.

What’s your awesome kid joke?

* * * * * * * *

PHILIP: Definitely wouldn’t be considered PC, but as kids, we thought Helen Keller jokes were the funniest things. Here are a few:

Why is Helen Keller’s legs wet?

Her dog is blind too.

Around the Horn: Planetary Edition


If you have to pick a planet to visit, which would it be? I’ve always been fascinated by Saturn because it has rings. Unfortunately, it’s mostly a gas planet so I don’t even think you can land on Saturn. But it’s absolutely beautiful and fascinating. Which planet fascinates you other than Earth?

DHH: Since this question assumes technological advances far beyond those currently available, I would want to visit one of those planets theoretically capable of sustaining human-like life. Gliese 667Cc is only 22 light years away, so that seems reasonable, right? Of course, if I did end up finding myself an immigrant alien, the inhabitants of Gliese 667Cc would probably kill me or dissect me or put me in a zoo or something, but it’d be interesting.

Around the Horn: Summer Music Edition

JAMWe’re in the full swing of summer. I’ve always loved summer because as a kid, it’s always meant no school, fun movies and, most importantly, music. There’s nothing like that perfect summer song or album that evokes good times and memories. I’ve already blogged about one of the best summers I had back in 1990 when I was just a kid enjoying everything that Santa Cruz had to offer.


That summer was filled with a lot of music but what I remember as dominating the airwaves that year was the B-52’s “Cosmic Thing” album. The album had actually dropped in 1989 and the big hit was “Love Shack” which is a great summer jam. But it got even more popular in 1990 with other hits like “Roam” which was huge that summer. When I think back to the summers I spent in Santa Cruz during school, the first things that come to mind are the beach/boardwalk, working at a record store and the B-52s.

What’s your quintessential summer jam (song or album)? And add a link to the video if there is one.