Monthly Archives: September 2014


I’ve got nothing right now. There’s nothing to say. I’m sitting here and trying to get something out, but it feels like I’ve lost all ability to put words together. Yeah, right now, at this moment, it feels like I won’t be able to write anything ever again. Like, I’ve just lost whatever it was that enabled me to write anything. What could I write about right now? I don’t feel like there’s anything to say.

This is the worst. I’ve been sitting here at this computer for a while, and I’m just not getting any ideas. The clock just keeps ticking away. And now my eyes hurt from staring at this computer screen. I played basketball last night, and I hadn’t played since last spring, and now my body is kind of sore. So sitting down is uncomfortable and standing up is uncomfortable.

And I thought I was going to go to the gym today, but I didn’t. I made meatballs for dinner. My plan was to make three pounds of meatballs, and just store them away so I’d have them for a while. But I don’t know what happened. They were so good. I ate more than half of the meatballs. I’m having like a meatball hangover.

I watched the Giants game. That was great, one, because I’m a Giants fan, but two, and more importantly, I made this ridiculous trade with my brother-in-law at the beginning of our fantasy league. I traded Andre Brown for Eli Manning, a trade that was dangled in front of my face like a joke. And I thought, you know what? I believe in Eli. And so I accepted. And everyone in the league got pissed. But Eli just scored me like forty-five points, because I started him.

If you don’t do fantasy, that probably made no sense to you. I only started doing fantasy last year, not really having any knowledge of football before that. But yeah, it sucks you in. Right before the week starts, I read a couple of fantasy blogs and make my roster. And then I just kind of zone out and wait for the scores to trickle in on Sunday. This week I’m facing the same brother-in-law that gave me Eli Manning. We have a little side bet going on. If I win, Mike has to, whenever I ask him, at any given time, make my other brother-in-law Matt a sandwich.

That sounds like a pretty lame bet, right? Wrong. Because last year when Mike and I faced each other, we had a bet that the loser had to make the winner a sandwich whenever he wanted. And Mike still has yet to cash in on that sandwich. And I don’t blame him. The whole idea of him being able to force me to make him a sandwich is so much more powerful than just having a sandwich. Because once that sandwich is gone, boom, that’s it, the power vanishes. But as it stands right now, Mike can technically call me up right now and have me make him a sandwich.

So yeah, if I win this week, I’ll have effectively neutralized his sandwich powers. Because as soon as he gives me the go ahead to make me a sandwich, I’ll give him the order to make Matt a sandwich. And I can’t ever see that happening. It would be mutually assured destruction. Nobody wants to see Matt have a sandwich.

But, and this is a very real possibility here, if Mike wins this week, I have to write a blog post about how awesome he is. A whole day, dedicated to Mike. Luckily, Eli really pulled through for me this week. And it’s all because I believed in Eli when everyone else in the world was saying that his time as an elite quarterback is in the past. That’s right, I was the only one who believed in Eli.

Anyway, that’s it, I’m tired, it’s too late. Tomorrow I’m going to get back on track of this blog and start writing some actual posts. Once the meatballs are out of my system.

Bill, I heard you got suspended

Dear Bill Simmons:

I just heard the news, that you got suspended from ESPN. Man, I’m really sorry that you’re in trouble, but I just want to let you know that I’m standing with you all the way. That’s right, I’m suspending myself from ESPN also. Because you were just saying what everyone else was already thinking, that, as an organization, the NFL is corrupt, and that the commissioner totally knew about that Ray Rice video.


Whatever, I’m not going to say anything here that hasn’t been said a million times already. I like watching football, but the NFL just sucks. They don’t want to pay anybody for getting thoroughly beat up on a weekly basis and then getting dementia not long after. The cheerleaders make less than minimum wage. Every time you watch a game, you have to sit through those ridiculous Faith Hill country intros.

Yeah, I’m with you Bill, after your suspension is over, I want you to tell ESPN to go take a hike. Maybe they should suspend themselves. But they’ll never do that. They don’t have the guts. They’re too beholden to the NFL, to Monday Night Football.

Bill, I hope you’re not going too hard on yourself. I know this isn’t your first suspension, but it’s still got to sting a little bit. I remember the first time I got suspended. I was waiting tables and this lady said to me, “I’m very allergic to citrus. I can’t stress enough, no citrus.” And I was like, “Yes, OK, I get it, no citrus.” And so she ordered a salad and I thought, that’s fine, nothing citrusy there. Except, as soon as she took a bite, she called me over and told me that she was having an allergic reaction. She’s fine, she survived, but it turned out that there was lemon or grapefruit in the salad dressing.

They suspended me. And I went through a whole range of emotions, anger, fatigue, more anger. I got over it eventually. In fact, after half a day or so of just kind of moping around, I actually felt really good. Because come on, I hate waiting tables. So to not have to go in for three weeks was, for me anyway, sort of like a gift. I’m not going to lie, after my suspension was over, I went back into that restaurant and, weeks later, I saw the same citrus lady. And I was just having such a bad night that I couldn’t help but to at least consider the possibility of giving her some key lime pie on the house, maybe get myself another three-week vacation.

But yeah, you probably love your job. I’d love your job too. I was on this kick where I was asking you for a job every week for a while, but I never heard from you. And so, from my point of view, it’s kind of like I’ve always been in a state of permanent suspension from ESPN and Grantland.

That’s not cool, making this about me. This has nothing to do with me. This is about you. Bill, with all of this free time in front of you, there’s so much to take advantage of, especially this time of year. You can go out to eastern Long Island and pick apples and take a hayride. A lot of places serve warm apple cider. You’ve got to go early in the day though, because all of the people from the city show up in swarms, parking their cars wherever they feel like it, asking the apple pie place dumb questions like, “Is this apple pie gluten free?”

Or you could do whatever. I’m sure it won’t be difficult finding cool stuff to do. Because three weeks Bill, that’s a lot, but it’ll go by fast. And then you’ll be back in the daily grind and there’s going to be some other NFL public relations disaster, and this time your boss is going to be like, “Simmons! Don’t even think about saying anything bad about the NFL!” And what are you going to do? No use worrying about that now. Just, take solace in the fact that you stood up for what you believed in, and now you don’t have to go to work for three weeks. And even if you got fired from ESPN, you’d still be ridiculously popular and you could start your own web site and the NFL would probably go bankrupt in no time. You’ve got them right where you want them, Bill. And I’ve totally got your back.


Instead of writing a blog post today, I ate my weight in Chinese takeout and rented the movie Snowpiercer on Amazon Prime. Wow. It was incredible. How did this film come and go without making more of a splash? I only accidentally heard of it. And even then, it took me another few months to actually sit down and watch it.

The idea is so … I don’t want to say stupid, but it is a pretty crazy plot. Life on Earth has come to an end, except for this one train that continually drives in a loop around the world. And all of the poor people are cooped up in the back, while the rich people live up front. Maybe it’s just me and how I’m explaining it, because that does make it sound kind of dumb.

But it isn’t dumb. Right from the beginning, you get heavily invested in these people that live in the caboose. And there really isn’t too much room for interpretation. The train is, like, the world, man. Only smaller! It’s just massive inequality and exploitation. Only, since they’re on a train, since there isn’t much room to do anything about it, nobody has to pretend or sugarcoat. The rich people are like, screw you poor a-holes, if it weren’t for us, you’d all be dead. Do as we say, or we’ll destroy you.

So yeah, it just has me thinking now, because if you look at the world like that giant train, I’m definitely sitting pretty up toward the front. I don’t have to deal with ISIS or anything like that. Or ebola. Or anything really. I mean, if I want to, I can write something about it on Facebook. I can take any side I want in any debate about anything. But it doesn’t change anything. Not on my end, not immediately anyway.

I don’t know, it’s just a movie. But it’s a really good movie, one that just gets your heart pumping and your head spinning. Because really, what’s going on? Why can’t we all get our act together and start allocating resources where they’re needed? If we have so much, why do we still have people living in poverty, even in the US? How is that acceptable? It’s just so blatantly not fair. Some people have way too much while other people don’t have enough. When does it ever change? How does that get fixed?

Job Assigner

“Listen Rob,” the Job Assigner broke the news to me, “these algorithms don’t lie. All right? So it says here that you’re qualified to go down on this two year deep sea study, I mean, what are you going to do?”


“Come on man,” I tried to beg. I never thought I’d have to beg. Robot Assistant, Human User Interface Relations, even Food Advertiser Specialist … seriously, even if I’d been assigned Food Advertiser Specialist, I wasn’t going to beg. Because I get, all right, not everybody gets assigned a cushy job. We can’t all be assigned Job Assigner. But this? Deep Sea Study Participant?

“You know how it goes. Everything’s optimized.”

“But I don’t even like the beach. I don’t want to live in the ocean.”

“Yeah, well, the computer says you’re a match, so you’re a match. You can’t argue with these things.”

“There’s nobody else that wants to go?” I mean, yeah, I’d heard about people being sent away on studies. But I never knew anybody that actually got shipped away. It was always like tall tales and stuff. I think one of my great uncles told a story about one of his old friends getting shipped out.

“It’s not a matter of want. Do you think I wanted to be Job Assigner?”

“You don’t want to be Job Assigner?”

“Well, I didn’t say that. But do you think that I really saw myself as Job Assigner? Everybody wants to be Job Assigner. But then once you get it … don’t get me wrong, I’m really grateful to be here. But I’d be lying if there weren’t that old feeling, like, what’s next? I know what’s next. More jobs. More assigning.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“No, I’m for real. Person comes in, computer spits out a job, I tell the person the job. Person comes in, person gets a job. Everybody’s getting jobs. Everybody except for me. Obviously I’m only dealing with my point of view here. But just think man, you’re going on an adventure. The deep sea!”

“But what are they going to be doing, testing me? Seeing how I’ll react to different states of pressure and environment and … and they’re probably going to give me one of those controlled diets, probably the same ones they give to the Deep Space Study Participants.”

“Yeah, I doubt it’ll be as bad as you think, but I’m sure it’s going to be a controlled diet.”

“Does it say? Does it mention anything about diet?”

“What are you talking about?”
“That … that screen, whatever it is you’re looking at, the one that told you my job placement. Does it have any sort of details?”

“This screen? Oh jeez, that’s good. No, I’m sorry, I’m not trying to laugh at you. It’s just … here, look at the screen, it’s Internet videos. I’m sorry, I just … the computer just says one thing, for you it said ‘Deep Sea Study Participant’ and that’s it. I just always have Internet videos on in the background. But hey! You’ll have Internet down there. So that’s something. You won’t be completely cut off. Not from the Internet, anyway.”

“And how many people are down there? Is it a big study?”

“Yeah, sorry man, but this is what I’m talking about here. Job Assigner, you’d think there’s more to it than just reading out loud. It’s not even a sentence. ‘Deep Sea Study Participant.’ Who am I kidding? This job’s a joke. I don’t know why everyone thinks it’s so cool. Yes, it’s easy. Yes, I only have to work like two hours a week. But it’s just so … I always thought I would have made a good Quality Control Historical Reenactor.”

“Listen, I would do anything to have your job. Anything. You don’t want to switch?”

“Switch? Ha. Come on man, you’re not dumb, you went through Basic Ed. I get it, I really do. I don’t assign too many Deep Sea Study Participant jobs, but it happens, and everyone’s upset. I get it. But everybody needs a job. You’ve got to have a job, you just have to. But it’s only a two-year gig. You’ll be back! Maybe they’ll give you Job Assigner two years from now!”

“You think?”

“I mean, I have no idea.”

“Well, what did you do before you were a Job Assigner?”

“Me? Nothing. I went through Basic Ed and some Job Assigner assigned me to be Job Assigner, and I was like, all right. And that’s it. I’m here for seventeen more years, and then I think they have me retiring on some moon somewhere.”

“A moon? That’s it?”

“I think it’s a nice moon.”

“Yeah, but still.”

“Yeah well, at least I’m not going to the deep sea.”

And yeah, that’s when it kind of sunk in. The door opened up and a Post-Assigner Assignment Placer came to shuttle me to whichever transport would take me to wherever I’d have to go to get ready for life underwater. I hope at least that it’s like an indoor study, that I’m not just floating around down there, testing out some new long-term oxygen deprivation drug or something. Right as they led me out, I heard the Job Assigner call out to me.

“Hey man, that wasn’t cool, I’m sorry. It won’t be too bad. You’ll be fine!”

I turned around and said, “Really? You think so?”

And he just kind of gave me a thumbs-up and shrugged.

History of literary criticism

I can’t think of anything to write about. I just spent a good chunk of time getting my reading done for class tomorrow. It’s a graduate class, all about the history of literary criticism. And I have no idea what anybody’s talking about. When I got accepted into this program to get my MFA in creative writing, one of the professors I talked with suggested that I get this class out of the way as soon as possible.


And I thought to myself, why? I don’t get it. But now I get it. Because this class is insane. I wish I could even explain how tough it is, but that would require an ability to actually articulate what I find difficult. I don’t even know how to talk about anything. I’m reading these texts, and I’m rereading them, and it’s like, yes, the words are all in English, but nothing makes sense.

Did you know that according to some critics, there’s a difference between a work and a text? Yeah, I have no idea what that means either. And I’m not just throwing my hands up in the air and claiming ignorance. No, I’m really struggling to wrap my head around some way in which this will all make sense. Because I know that this stuff has to be for real. Someone wrote this book that I can’t read. And my professor is making a living teaching it.

So yeah, the problem is with me. But it’s like I thought that admitting that I had a problem would somehow make it better. But it’s not better. Like the relationship between a work and a text (in these anthology textbooks, I feel like so many random words are italicized, for some reason that I just don’t get) is that a text can cut across the work, or several works.

That’s straight out of the textbook, the whole cutting across business. And I’m sitting here and scratching my head and trying to imagine that at some point in time, someone actually had to sit down and write that out. To what end? What’s the point of coming up with all of these ridiculously impenetrable smart-sounding sentences that refuse to make sense in my head?

And it’s just, man, I’m so screwed. Every week we’re supposed to write these one-page response papers based on the reading that week. Last week I handed in my first paper, and I was actually somewhat pleased with myself. I told myself, yeah, I’m smart, I read the readings, I put something smart sounding together. Nice job, Rob.

And then as everyone handed his or her paper in, I saw the person in front of me, she handed in a single-spaced page. I thought to myself, wow, that person’s probably going to be penalized for sticking two pages worth of material onto one. But then I looked around, everyone else had it single-spaced also. “Is this single-spaced?” I asked the professor as I handed mine in. “Yeah …” he told me, and I just kind of stared back at him, like shit, I can’t believe it, how did I miss that?

Because yeah, I went back to the assignment, and it was printed out, “one single-spaced page.” Man, talk about starting off on the wrong foot. And then throughout the course of that class, I realized that the half-page of response I had written down was in fact all garbage. No, I had not understood the reading, and therefore whatever I handed in was similarly way off.

I don’t know, I want to do well, but this is all just so hard. And I have to get this next response paper in by tomorrow, and I’m trying to get something single spaced, which sounds easy, because I write all of this nonsense on this blog every day. But here’s all I have so far:

“Well … you see … it’s just that … the point I’m trying to make is … upon close examination of the reading … it’s obvious that the author was trying to … I mean, after a close interpretation of …”

And it goes on like that for another paragraph or so before whatever cohesiveness existed that managed to even link those words together disappears. In fact, after a while, the Word software sent me a popup message, it said, “Something isn’t right here, please wait while Word runs a diagnostic to make sure everything is OK on our end.”

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Maybe if I sit up in the front of class, I can cross out the name on that smart girl who sits two seats back, and I’ll write my name in her place. And then when the professor hands them back the week after that, I’ll go up to her, she’ll be holding my paper with her name penciled in on top, hers will say D and mine (really hers) will say A. And I’ll say, “Oooh, too bad. Hey, don’t take it personally. This is some really hard work. Not everybody has what it takes to master the history of literary criticism.”