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Monday, September 30, 2013

What Rupert Murdoch Means to Me

Today, Forbes ran a really bizarre (and really nice) article about Amplify, the company I make video games for, and my relationship with Rupert Murdoch.

What We Can Learn From Rupert Murdoch, News Corp, And Amplify

...but most of the folks who work at Amplify are left-leaning liberals who wouldn’t do the work if it was about brainwashing kids into Murdoch clones.
lexicaPerhaps she wanted me to see her point embodied when she introduced me to Matthue Roth, one of Amplify’s head writers and game developers. I already knew a bit about Roth. His children’s book, My First Kafka, is one of my boys’ favorites. I’ve also read Roth’s novel, Never Mind The Goldbergs–a story about a teenaged girl who finds her foundation for countercultural rebellion in observant Judaism. The novel is a thought-provoking exploration of the relationship between orthodoxy, individuality, and conformity. Roth’s Amazon author page describes him as “a Hasidic author” and “slam poet,” hardly in resonance with the stereotypical view we may have of the News Corp lemming. (Come to think of it, Roth is hardly in resonance with the stereotypical view we have of anything).
Um, yep. A tremendous blushing and a tremulous shifting in my seat. But my boss just walked over and clapped me on the shoulder, so I am assuming everything is okay.

You can read the whole thing here, if you want to.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

September 11 babies

yom kippur This is what I was doing on September 11, 2001, and then what I'm doing right now. Just pulled out my copy of Yom Kippur a Go-Go, which is where this is taken from. So weird to have a record of my life, published and accessible to people who are not me. Some parts make me feel queasy in retrospect. This is one of my favorite stories I've ever done.

Somehow, we had all forgotten how Rabbi Mendy’s wife Tali was pregnant. Hugely pregnant. Nobody at the synagogue noticed, or realized, because pregnancy was a normal state for Hasidim, but when New York broke, so did she.
Mendy called me from the hospital. “Tali’s in the E.R.,” he said. “Everything’s fine, thank G-d, but Golda is here and she’s not used to hospitals and I was wondering if you were maybe free for the day?”
I told him I was on it.
We met at his house, a few blocks from the hospital. Golda was in her crib, snoring peacefully. Her little lungs shot out huge noisy breaths that filled the small room. Trickles of sunlight poked through the border of the curtains. Mendy left me with another apology—“I’m sorry we called you out of the house so close to Rosh HaShana”—and I was, like, Rabbi, don’t apologize, you do not choose when a baby is going to fall out, and I showed him to the door.
I heard a scuttle of footsteps, and walked through the kitchen to find Golda in her pajamas. She looked up at me, confused.
“Where Mommy?” she said.
I kneeled down to the level of her eyes. “She’s at the hospital with the baby, remember?”
“Baby?” she repeated.
“Baby,” I said.
“Where Mommy?”
The second time Golda asked, she didn’t wait for an answer. Her jaw dropped open and she started to scream.
One day I am going to make the worst father. Children crying make me crumble into helplessness. This feeling of utter sadness wells up and makes me all depressed and I want to concentrate on my own depressed state, not how to make them feel better.
I talked to her in that soft bedroom voice. I pleaded with her, showed her Mommy’s coat and the door. I dug through her toybox to find an ambulance or a hospital or something, but Golda was ultra-protective about her toys and when I touched them, she started screaming about that instead.
I shrugged. I got up, walked into the next room, which was Mendy’s office, and took out some computer paper and a set of Magic Markers. I threw them in a pile on the floor and started to draw.
Eventually Golda stopped hiding her toys under the sofa and waddled over to me. With her index finger in her mouth, she said, “What you doing?”
“I dunno,” I said, shading in the side of a woman’s dress.
“Who that?”
“That’s Mommy.”
She plopped down, grabbed a marker, and started to draw on the other half of the paper. She drew another woman holding a baby. “Is that Mommy too?” I asked.
Golda shook her head. “This is Golda,” she said. “I going to have a baby too.”

Now it's a bunch of years later. I'm headed into Times Square, which feels like an ominous thing to say, then walking to the Port Authority terminal to catch a bus. I'm going to see my sister and meet my niece for the first time. I don't know what it's going to be like, and the more I think about it, the more it's going to be about my memories and expectations, the What Should I Be Feeling parts of being a writer, and less about the actual experience of being there. So here's leaping headlong into life. I'll let you know how it goes.

And, because I'm not sure why, the Roots doing "Call Me Maybe."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sneaking into the Basin

This is where I walked today:

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Mill Basin is one of those places that makes you say, "I can't believe this is Brooklyn," but it is so incredibly Brooklyn. The houses are lavish and spread out, with lawns that are like nature preserves and cars that belong in museums. It's ostentatious and lascivious, but there's something about the neighborhood that makes you want to bathe in it completely, a cross between rubbernecking at an accident and watching Gossip Girl. There's a street that's clogged with houses, shoulder to shoulder, blocking off the view of Mill Basin itself. Some of the houses are Lego atrocities, but in a really compelling way. Others are like little Greek palaces. Just being in visual distance of them makes you feel like your blood is soaking up some sort of classical-masterpiece-based culture. And then there is this house, which I desperately want to get invited to a party at:

...Which, okay, the place ostensibly has its own issues. But there is some beautiful waterfront out there. I really just want to watch a drunken sunset there, possibly while laughing ostentatiously, just once.

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