NEW AT ‘THE MORNING NEWS’

The Morning News has been kind enough to publish a multi-part series of autobiographical essays about video games, written by me. The series is called Consoles I Have Known, and first essay, titled, “A Very Weird and Blocky Future,” is available for eyeballs today.

THE FUNNIEST YEAR THERE EVER WAS

My eight year-old nephew insisted on sharing his elementary school yearbook with me, mostly to point out cool dudes, his girlfriends, and the kid who no one likes because he sometimes hits other kids due to he can’t control himself and his many emotional problems.

But my favorite part of the yearbook (besides laughing at kids with jug ears) was a poll published where members of the third grade class were each asked to nominate the “Funniest Thing That Happened This School Year.” As you can imagine, the answers were edgy. For example, Rachel submitted the following funny-because-it’s-true moment: “When we were in Miss Stern’s class and a phone rang and everyone cracked up like crazy.” Ethan disagreed, remembering his own classroom crack-up like it was yesterday: “This one time, when my friend Liam threw his pencil.” That does sound pretty funny, but can anyone concur, I wondered. Then, about eight more positions down the list, I found this nomination from known funnyman Liam:

“This one time, when I threw my pencil.”

It must have been an excellent day for the third grade. Either that, or Liam and Ethan were sitting side-by-side, eating Lunchables best-friends-forever style, when they were approached by the yearbook editor with that poll question.

SONGS PLAYED AT MY COUSIN’S BAR-MITZVAH LAST WEEKEND

“Believe It Or Not” (theme song from Greatest American Hero) – Joey Scarbury
“The Boys Are Back In Town” - Thin Lizzy (thanks, Chris. I’d originally attributed that song to Bachmann Turner Overdrive, because I often confuse the song with “Takin’ Care of Business,” another BTO song. I’m glad it was corrected because I expect Thin Lizzy Googles itself a lot, and would have been hurt by the mistaken attribution. I really do mean that, too. )
“Glory Days” – Bruce Springsteen (played during a video montage featuring my cousin’s little league team)
“Old Time Rock’n’Roll” - Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
“Cotton Eyed Joe” – Rednex remix (black people can learn how to do the secret white person dance here)
“You Got Another Thing Coming” - Judas Priest
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” - Cyndi Lauper
“99 Luftballons” – Nena (in its original German!)
“Margaritaville” - Jimmy Buffett

During the entire party, there was only one song played that was written in the lifetime of my cousin and his friends. (most of whom spent the entire bar-mitzvah playing touch football on the dance floor with an oversized, inflatable football.) And that song was “Cupid’s Chokehold,” by MySpace favorites The Gym Class Heroes — a re-imagineering of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America.”

As we were getting ready to leave, my 4 year-old nephew was dancing around the dance floor, strumming an inflatable guitar and wearing a plastic fedora, glow in the dark raver necklace, and a pair of knock-off Ray-Bans with neon orange stems. He looked like the prize table on the midway of the world’s lousiest county fair. The only thing he was missing was a framed “Jack Daniels” mirror, still crusted with cocaine, tucked underneath his tiny little arm.

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