Holiday Roast: The 8-Day Amity Island Diet

Show me the way to better abs and increased energy

Amity Island, like Brigadoon or King Arthur’s Avalon, is a place out of time that is powered by summer dollars and magical realism. But an Islander’s gotta eat — and not some license plate he found in a river.

As has been proven with exhaustive scholarship, we cannot rely on police reports or flyers on Town Hall walls to nail down exact times on Amity (which, as you know, means “friendship”), but we can kick our way to shore with this hearty 8-day diet.

Falstaff Beer And A Cigarette

Soon neither of us will be able to walk or dress ourselves, Chrissie

If Brody’s police report was true (and it wasn’t), Tom enjoyed this casual ripaste close to midnight on July 1, 1974. Chasing Chrissie Watkins down the dunes, Tom doesn’t make it too far, and passes out. But that was just a palate cleanser, because the next day:

Coffee And Crabs

JAWS diet
Oh you’ll get it

Even though the season hasn’t even started yet, Brody rushes out of his home with his wife’s coffee mug to find Chrissie’s partially denuded remains being gobbled by crabs.

Crabs know a boating accident when they see one

“I want my cup back,” nags Ellen Brody.

“You’ll get it,” replies the Prufrocked Chief, probably wishing he was a Chrissie-denuding crab.

Brandy And A Freezer Full of Meat

Let’s toast to Pippet

It’s been a tough day what with all that chalkboard scratching, so Ellen brings her husband a heavy snifter of Brandy.

“You wanna get drunk and fool around?” she says.

“Oh yeah,” Brody replies, hoping to do some denuding of his own.

3,000 bucks buys an awful lot of roast

Meanwhile, Charlie steals his wife’s Holiday Roast for our first substantial meal, more than ample fuel for the strenuous days ahead. When you put your hook into this chunk of flesh, your friends will say, “He’s taking it he’s taking it he’s taking it he’s taking it.”

Water, Red And White Wine, And Leftovers

Always drink in a non-frenzied manner

We still need to bulk up for our shark hunt, so today we’ll begin with a palate-cleansing styrofoam cup full of water as Hooper narrates Chrissie’s injuries. Because he is a scientist, Hooper probably knows the reason not to smoke in the autopsy room, though it is lost on us.

I didn’t know what you were having

Then we’ll finish the day with some hefty, inappropriately dispensed glasses of wine quaffed around a table full of lasagna leftovers.

“You want to let that breathe for — ? Nothing,” says Hooper, who is in sharks.

Coffee (Ice Cream) And Cigarettes

Good luck playing with your cars in here, Michael

After the leftovers, let’s have a nice dessert. Michael’s birthday-week trauma at the pond has left him in shock, but he recovers enough for some ice cream.

I am the Mayor of Shark City and I can smoke wherever I like

Meanwhile, Vaughn takes advantage of the fact that it’s the 1970s in Massachusetts by lighting up in a goddamn hospital.


I call this a Fat PBY

Quint has told Brody that Hooper can be taken on the Orca for ballast, and what better way to jettison the week’s fatty foods than with Quint’s mariner moonshine?

“Don’t drink that,” says Brody to Hooper, whose insides are like a kiddie scissor class cut it up for a paper doll, or whatever Quint said, being drunk already.

Narragansett, Compressed Air, Chum, Cod, And Cigarettes

Drink enough of these, you’ll eat a rocking chair

That first day at sea can take a lot out of landlubbers, so the savvy shark fisherman makes sure to vary his diet. Have plenty of ‘Gansett on hand in crushable cans and chase that with some compressed air – just don’t fool around with it or it will blow up. Balance that with a bucket full of chum and a paper plate of cod and you’re gonna need a bigger boat to take your ass home.

Iranian Caviar, Pate De Fois Gras, And A Case of Apricot Brandy

Chum some of this shit, Chum

Just because Quint is dead doesn’t mean his payment has to go to waste. Presumably the Town of Amity is off the hook for the $10,000 Quint demanded, but you can still enjoy the late Captain’s culinary spoils. Dine in front of a color TV while chewing on a sheepshank, and you’ll be all ready for “Jaws 2.”

If you like “Jaws,” perhaps you would be interested in the original musical “All That Jaws.”

Irresponsible Pooh

Winnie the Pooh Is A Horrible Role Model

Irresponsible Pooh

“One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.”
― A.A. Milne, “Winnie the Pooh”

Something happens when adults tell stories to children other than their own. We’re aware of a restless, judgmental audience who at the same time we don’t need to feed and dress. That is why Winnie the Pooh is a ridiculous role model for children: Parents wouldn’t trust him to babysit and kids would get bored.

I’ve no doubt that those original and unpublished tales that A.A. Milne told at bedtime to his son, Christopher, were gems of narrative grace and action. But once they hit the air, they became precious and false. What adult, surveying the wreckage of a child’s room, resorts to the quote above?

Irresponsible Pooh

I no longer have any illusions. I know about the Electoral College. I know that I will never be treated fairly by a cable company. I know that reality television isn’t real. But Winnie the Pooh makes my head spin.

Winnie the Pooh is like Radiohead and quinoa to me; I am not sure if anyone actually likes any of those things or if they’ve been hosed and bewildered into submission like a protester at a demonstration in a country where they can still pay for water.

Irresponsible Pooh

I’m not disputing that WtP is of use to adults; A.A. Milne’s simple observations as channeled through the pantsless bear (who looks like he smells — any human who dresses like that would smell) hit home just as soundly as do the precocious wisdom of doomed and clairvoyant Stephen King children or any hayseed character in an 80s movie who tells big city hotshot Michael J. Fox that there’s more to living than money and cocaine.

Adults like WtP because he connects them to their childhoods and assures them that things aren’t really that complicated.

Irresponsible Pooh

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

But I have a strong suspicion that no child ever really liked Winnie the Pooh when he was growing up. Why? Because his name has Pooh in it. There’s no getting away from it. He’s not like Jesus Christ, who can go by either name; he’s never just “Winnie.” If anything, sometimes he’s just called “Pooh.”

irresponsible pooh

At the very first meeting with Christopher Robin or Piglet, one of them should have said “Wait — Winnie the Shit? Get out. Get out of here!!”

Pooh stories are torpid, bumpkinlike sketches of the types of people to avoid. As adults, would we take anyone like Pooh seriously?

Irresponsible Pooh

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”

Children are like little Chuck Ds, who said “Most of my heroes still don’t appear on no stamp.” They’re smart and canny. They can’t find comfort in a bear whose whole life stands in opposition to his own parent, who at that very moment may be trying to hustle him out the door for school.

deep facebook

Deep Facebook: For When It’s Complicated (first in a series)

In this article I use the name of a popular social media outlet as a stand-in for all of them, and thus don’t bother with a capital F. If it’s true that young people are no longer Flocking to facebook, the least we can do is top off the company’s IPO with a common noun. Continue reading

Let's Avoid Uncle Dale Dos Bad Dads

Dos Bad Dads: Children’s Literature for When They’re No Longer Children

Let's Avoid Uncle Dale Dos Bad Dads
I like how he still has the presence of mind to balance his tumbler on the dashboard

One of the advantages parenting books leave out is the number of absences you can blame on your children. Awful Friends’ party? “My child is a little sick.” Slept through the alarm? “My child is a little sick.” Impeachment scandal? “My child is a little sick.”

“Everyone wins thinking my child is a little sick,” reasons the parent, for whom the night is now once again wide open and filled with possibilities. I imagine that is exactly the type of parent that would appreciate the ouevre of a Bay Area team known as Dos Bad Dads.

The duo got together somewhere on the road to Sacramento in December, 2012. Patrick Vogelpohl, an adjunct English professor and father of two boys, met illustrator “Steve,” who also has two sons (“his real job won’t let him be associated with this,” Vogelpohl says) and they have since collaborated on two slim e-volumes of misanthropy: “FYI: Great Grandma Is Racist” (2013) and “Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale” (2014).

The books can be digested in three minutes flat, with trenchant observations of these relatives’ decline set against simple, “South Park”-style artwork. I talked with Vogelpohl about how he plans to change the way children are raised for $2 a pop on Amazon.

FYI Great Grandma Is Racist Dos Bad Dads
More accessible than “Good Night, Moon”

MB: “Great Grandma Is Racist” and “Uncle Dale” seem to have been written from the perspective of the uncle who is more stable than Uncle Dale yet less criminally liable than the parents. They’re not children’s books but are written as if they were. Who is the target demographic?

Patrick Vogelpohl: Tired parents.

Let's Avoid Uncle Dale Dos Bad DadsMB: There’s some misanthropy here.

Vogelpohl: Emotionally I don’t think most parents these days have a choice. A little misanthropy is a good defense mechanism. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a partner, but as it is, one of them is likely working 60 hours a week and the lightweight of the two is working 35. These people like their dark humor.

MB: Dale and Grandma don’t seem like the types I usually meet in Liberal San Francisco.

Vogelpohl: I grew up in a little town called Fairfield on the way to San Francisco. When I was a kid we had a Waldenbooks at the mall. You could stick a Playboy in a trade journal or gardening book. So you’d have six kids standing around the bookstore looking like a bunch of junior horticulturists. That’s where I grew up and that’s the type of guy Dale was. When I’d say “I want to go to the library,” my uncles would say, “Oh, you like reading, Rock Hudson?’ That’s the type of place I grew up in.

MB: Dave huffs glue, has a Ukrainian mail-order bride who may be a prostitute, and Grandma winds up in Hell. Meanwhile you teach English at junior colleges and work at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference every summer. How do you reconcile those things?

Vogelpohl: I’m not a real person. I’m stock photography that you get on Creative Commons. I’m an avatar…actually, I think if two parents are working so hard to make ends meet, when you go home, if the two of you can’t laugh, you go a little crazy.

Sex Tape Cameron Diaz Jason Segal

MB: The other day my 9-year-old daughter and I were driving in Los Angeles when she saw a billboard for the Cameron Diaz/Jason Segel movie “Sex Tape.” And she asked me what a sex tape was. She grasped the overall concept of a sex tape but it was hard for me to explain the recording medium known as “tape.” How soon will it be before your boys can read your books?

Vogelpohl: Whenever my wife gives me the green light. I write dumb jokes, but I am not a dumb man.

Buy “FYI: Great Grandma is Racist (Dos Bad Dads Presents)” and “Let’s Avoid Uncle Dale (Dos Bad Dads Presents Book 2)


Don’t Throw Away Your Cows

Now more than ever, it’s important that we give our children accurate information about the Afterlife, and our responsibilities to the dead. I had this conversation with my children at an In-n-Out Burger on Father’s Day. Like an awestruck Anna Freud (or Anna Skinner), my daughter recorded the conversation. Continue reading


What We Can Learn from Count Orlok

Even though he died in 1922, Transylvania’s Count Orlok remains a culturally relevant, exciting figure. But for his sudden death in Wisborg, Germany, the famed “Nosferatu of Carpathia” doubtless would have continued to be a source of folksy aphorisms and gentle truths, like a whiter Garrison Keillor. Here are some of my favorites. Continue reading