What Happens When You Strap a Video Camera To A 9-Year-Olds Head?

This weekend, I mounted a GoPro Hero 2 video camera to my son’s ski helmet and hit the ‘record’ button. What happened for the next 2 hours was funny, boring and an interesting view into the world of 9-year-old. Here are some snippets.

I’m Going To Be Famous
My son gets on a chairlift with a certain ‘girl.’ This girl has already told everyone that she has a little bit of a crush on him. I think he has one back. This conversation was funny.

Girl: Turn the camera toward me (Head turns – now she’s looking directly into the camera) some day; I’m going to be rich and famous. And you’re going to be my assistant.
Son: How are you going to become famous?
Girl: I don’t know, maybe some reality TV show. Like ‘Mary’s Got Talent’ (Name changed)
Son: Maybe, ‘American Mary’ or ‘Mary’s Voice’ or ‘The Amazing Mary.’
Girl: I know ‘Marry Mary!’
Son: So you’re not going to famous too soon, right?
Girl: Why?
Son: I think we have a race tomorrow.
Girl: Well, I won’t be famous by tomorrow, unless someone discovers me while skiing and wants to put me in a ski movie.
Son: That would be cool. Can I be in your movie?
Girl: No, but you can be my assistant.

Birthday Parties Suck

My son was also discussing his upcoming birthday with another boy. He’s a bit of the conversation.

Boy: What are you doing for your birthday?
Son: I don’t want to do anything. It’s too much pressure.
Boy: I love parties. You get lots of gifts and stuff.
Son: I don’t mind the presents; it’s the people that drive me nuts.

My Son Sings While He Skis
Who knew? But on every run down the hill, my son can be clearly heard singing. His song choices were interesting.

1st run: Kelly Clarkson “Stronger”
2nd run: China Anne McClain “Unstoppable”
3rd run: Katie Perry “California Gurls”
4th run: Don McClain “American Pie”

Although he did get some of the “American Pie” lyrics wrong, ‘…. then good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing I’m going drink ‘til I die.’

Adults Mug For The Camera
The last little tidbit, is how comfortable kids are in front of a video camera, but how silly adults act. Virtually every adult made some strange face into the camera. While the kids just acted normally. I guess the kids have grown up in the video age, so having their life on film is nothing out of the ordinary. But funny.

So that’s partially what happens. More once I finish screening the rest of the footage.


Spring Break – A Long Time Ago

I don’t know why, but I had a dream last night about my college Spring break. It was a time I hadn’t thought about in a long, long time. I was at Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey studying journalism. My goal was to be the next great investigative reporter – you know – the next Woodward and Bernstein. I was in my dorm room in Switlick C (I know, it’s a strange name for a dorm) when my room mate, Weazer asked if I wanted to join him, Space, and Breeze on a road trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. By the way, their real names were Dave, Jim and Paul. I think the real reason they asked my to go was because they didn’t have a car to drive down and I did. But that didn’t matter, I quickly agreed and off we went.

That was the amount of planning.

We jumped in my car with a backpack full of clothes, virtually no money, no plans, no hotel reservation or place to stay. We just assumed we’d figure it out on the way down.

And we had the time of our life.

We drove all night. Decided for some strange reason to stop in Orlando on the way and spend a day in Disney World. The only reason I remember stopping in I have a photograph of Space standing in from of the Space Mountain sign. He has this shit eating grin on his face. I’m pretty sure he was drunk. I seem to remember that we knew someone at a college in Florida – and we crashed in their dorm for a night. Had a fairly late party, and decided in a drunken state to go visit Mickey Mouse. I’m sure at some point in the night it seemed like a good idea.

Next day, off to Fort Lauderdale. We somehow found a place to stay. I think we crashed with other guys from our college, because I seem to remember we had seven of us in one room. We stayed for a few days. Went to a few bars. Met a few people. And then we decided Fort Lauderdale was lame.

So all seven of us packed up our two cars and drove further south to Key West. Again, no plans, no reservations, no hotel. Just seven guys. Two cars. And a few six packs of beer.

By the way – you’ll notice I never mention eating food. From this entire trip, I have no recollection of ever eating. Probably because we didn’t eat. We used all of our available money for beer. But that’s beside the point.

We get to Key West and can’t find a place to stay. Nothing. Everything is booked. So we decide to sleep on the beach. Can’t be too hard to find a place to sleep. Some of us can sleep in the car. Some on the beach. But then a miracle happened. As we’re driving to the beach, we see a beachside shack. Sitting on the porch (and I’m not making this up) are seven local girls drinking beer. They wave at us. We wave back. We head over. Before you know it, we’re drinking their beer, sleeping on their floor, and basically crashing at their shack for the remainder of the trip.

While in Key West, we also ran into another friend from school that had become stranded in the Keys when his group from school left him behind. So he crashed with us. We drove him back. And that was a good thing. He had money for gas. We didn’t. One thing we forgot to figure into our plans was money to buy gas for the return trip.

It’s funny; I often talk about my daughter and how they’ll leave the house with no plans, no money, and no idea where they’re going. And it always works out. Maybe I should let it go – because my Spring break trip proved to me long ago – that some times the best memories are the ones you don’t plan.

Spring break was one of those times.


Stupid Mail Order Policies

I don’t think I’ve been this angry in a long time.

And it’s stupid. But I’m still furious. It’s all because I ordered something online and the delivery company is being an idiot. OK – here’s the premise.

My wife and I have been looking for a new coffee table for our living room for 10 years. We can never find anything we both like. So we’ve been living with this ugly coffee table I got second-hand when I was living in my NYC apartment in 1988. I’ve always hated this coffee table. I’ve put it outside for the trash men at least 4 times. And every time, my wife pulls it back in.

Recently we actually found two coffee tables we liked from the same online site. We bought them. And then the delivery stupidity began.

Unless you buy the ‘premium’ delivery package for an extra $400, the delivery company won’t take the coffee table off the truck when they come to deliver. That’s right, they will pull up to the street, knock on the door, and YOU have to go inside the truck and carry it off.

But wait there’s more — they can’t leave until I sign the delivery sales receipt AFTER I inspect the item inside my house. Really. So they’re going to sit in the truck and wait for me and my wife to carry the table into our house, unpack the box, inspect the item, and then come outside and sign a piece of paper. Interesting.

Oh, and they only deliver on weekdays. And won’t give you a range of times when they’re going to show up. So my wife and I BOTH have to take the day off, since I probably won’t be able to carry the table into my house by myself.

I know, you’re thinking ‘and you didn’t cancel the order and tell them to #$@$# off?’

After 10 years of searching – I really want the table. So I have a plan.

I’m going to bribe the drivers. Yes, I’m going to see if they have a price. $50? $100? What will it take to have them carry the table into my house.

Another alternative is to ask for their company information before I get on the truck. “You know, I’d like to know who I’m going to have my lawyer call in case I hurt myself while inside your truck.”

My last thought was to have my wife and son go outside to carry the table inside. Surely the drivers won’t allow a woman and 9-year-old to carry the table.

And I know the final outcome — I’m going to take delivery, carry the table inside the house, unpack it, inspect it — and something’s going to be wrong. I’m going to have to have them take it back. And start the stupidity all over again.

I think I’m always going to hate this table as much as the current coffee table. Maybe I should just cancel the order now.


A Few Things That Made Me Smile

Today’s posting is going to be about a few odds and ends that I’ve been meaning to write about but never got around to putting them down on paper. Dumb things that made me laugh while commuting to work or things that happened that just made me smile. You know, stuff.

Do you remember the arcade game Frogger? If you don’t, the basic premise of the game is a frog is trying to cross the street without getting run over by a car or truck. That’s it. That’s the entire game. And yet I would play over and over again until I got the high score on the machine. Every morning I play a human version of Frogger while getting of the Shuttle train from Grand Central. As soon as I get off the subway the foot traffic pattern means that one group of people have to cross a second group at a 90-degree angle. So imagine the game of Frogger, I’m the frog and the foot traffic is the car. You move one step forward, one step to the side, someone passes, you step forward again. And you try not to get hit. The problem, just like the game, you always gets hit. Someone always curses. Someone always yells. And eventually, it’s game over. Who would’ve thought way back in 1981 that all those quarters spent on Frogger would be helping my morning commute 31 years later. Certainly not me.

Instant Classic Ski Race
My son had a ski race this weekend. He came in third. He was really happy about winning a third place trophy and was very proud of his achievement. But what really made me happy was that he was incredibly happy about HOW he skied. He told me immediately after his first run that it was the ‘best run of his entire career.’ I love the fact that he thinks about his ski racing as a ‘career.’ Later that night when we were looking at photos I took at the mountain, he called them ‘instant classics’ and wanted them printed for his bedroom wall. He told me that the race ‘will be the highlight of his entire year.’ He was very happy with the result, very happy at his friends’ reaction to his race, and of course, very happy for the 8” piece of plastic that the Interclub race program calls a trophy. He thinks I should build him a trophy case for his awards. I don’t think so. But they are on his bedroom dresser.

I Don’t Drink
You’d be surprised how many people commented on my post about how I don’t drink. But my favorite was someone who sent the following cartoon. I thought it was hysterical.

I think I’ve written enough about stupid things NOT to say in an interview. But I feel the need to express this one again. Please don’t come in for an interview and tell me that you’re not interested in a certain part of the job. Don’t waste my time. Either you’re all in or you’re all out. I’ve had three people in the past two weeks tell me that they are REALLY interested in 40% of the job description, but not interested at all in 60%. One interview was 4 minutes long. Another waited until the end. And another didn’t tell me at all, but followed up with an e-mail afterwards. I’m not hiring any of them. Please, please, please, please, don’t waste my time. If you want to meet and talk, send me an e-mail and we’ll get together some place for a cup of coffee. (Notice I didn’t say ‘for a drink.’) But don’t waste interview time only to disqualify yourself at the end. Thank you.

So there you have it. What’s on my mind today? Commuting, Drinking, Interviewing and instant classic races.


Yet Another Conversation With My Son – Part 4

My wife is out of town this week. So it’s guy week around the Levy household. It also leaves a lot of time of interesting conversation. Here are a few of my favorites from the past few days.

Girl Trouble
Son: Dad, why does Gina (name changed) keep hitting me?
Me: I think that’s her way of showing you that she likes you.
Son: By hitting me? That doesn’t make any sense.
Me: But that’s the point, she can’t make sense of how she’s feeling, so hitting you seems like the right thing to do.
Son: Oh, that’s weird.
Me: It’s actually kind of cute.
Son: Is that what people mean when they say someone is ‘hitting on them?’
Me: Probably. That seems right.

Being A Fan
Son: Are you rooting for the Giants or the Patriots?
Me: I don’t know. I guess the Giants. But only because the Colts aren’t in it this year.
Son: What if the Colts played the Giants, would you root for the Colts?
Me: 100%.
Son: I think I’m rooting for the Giants. But if the Patriots win, I’ll switch to them.
Me: That’s not how it works; you root for one team win or lose.
Son: Do you hate all teams from Boston?
Me: I wouldn’t say hate ….
Son: So I can be a Red Sox fan?
Me: No.
Son: Mets?
Me: No.
Son: Orioles?
Me: OK, you can root for the Orioles.
Son: But that’s only because the Orioles stink, right?
Me: Yes.
Son: Just like the Colts.

Cell Phone
Son: Dad, when can I have a cell phone?
Me: Not yet.
Son: I know not yet, but when. Next year? The year after that?
Me: Why do you want a cell phone?
Son: To call you when I need you.
Me: There are phones everywhere. You can use any phone to call me.
Son: I can’t send a text message.
Me: True.
Son: And I can’t contact you if I get into a bus accident on the way home from school.
Me: True.
Son: And I can’t call you to pick me up from the mall.
Me: Wait, you have never been to the mall by yourself.
Son: That’s because I don’t have a cell phone.

So that’s what’s on the mind of a 9-year-old. Cell phones, sports and getting ‘hit on’ by girls. Ahhhh, it never ends.


Answers to questions people have asked about my past posts

How’s the exercise going?
It’s been slow and painful. I’m hoping that I can really tackle a set routine this week. I’ve created a daily workout on my computer and I’m beginning to put it into practice. And yes, I’m tired.

Reading my posts?
Someone just said something very funny to me, so I thought I’d share. I just mentioned to a woman in my office that I hadn’t talked to her for a while. She replied, “But I read your blog.” Hmmmmm, somehow people don’t need to talk to me because they’re reading what I’m writing? I hope not. So, if you’re reading this, come by and say hello every now and then.

More funny stuff my son says?
Many people have advised me to create a separate blog specifically for the funny stuff my son says. I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to a second blog so soon. For now, he stays on the main site. BTW – look for tomorrow’s post. He said some incredible things this weekend.

Did I purchase that guitar?
While tempted, I didn’t purchase a 1961 Epiphone Casino reissue. I liked the guitar but didn’t love it. So I couldn’t justify the purchase.

When will you write again about your class?
I only teach once a week, so if you’re looking for posts about my class, you’ll see those every Friday.

Do people really say those stupid things to you?
Yes, I don’t make up the dialogue. I have witnesses. In fact, the ‘women on the chairlift’ conversations are as close to word for word as humanly possible to remember.

Do you ever proofread what you write?
Yes, I’m famous around the agency for making funny typos. I’m sorry. I really try not to put typos in my posts. But I’m a terrible proofreader. Of course, that’s just an excuse; I’m actually a terrible speller.

Is this what you sound like?
Yes, if you were in my office, these posts would sound just like having a real conversation with me. And yes – at times I say really dumb things.


15-Year-Old Scotch, 12-Year-Old Wine & 3-Month-Old Beer

I don’t drink alcohol.

Anyone who knows me will testify that I’m a terrible drinker. I barely drink at all, and when I do, I nurse a beer forever. I don’t know why I don’t drink. It’s not like I made a decision not to drink. And I do have a beer or glass of wine from time to time with friends. But I don’t consider myself a drinker. In fact, my beer of choice has turned into Stella Artois because people don’t make fun of me for ordering something like a Coors Light. I never know what to order, because I don’t order enough to know better.

But this weekend people who knew exactly what they liked to drink surrounded me.

My daughter and her boyfriend cracked open two bottles of 15-year-old scotch to taste the subtle differences between a blend and a single malt. They were in heaven. The special glassware, the perfect amount of ice and the exact timing of when to drink their choice were timed to perfection. Of course, they poured me a glass. And when I tried it I thought I would choke. It smelled like lighter fluid and it tasted like an empty ashtray. (I’m guessing, since I never actually tasted an ashtray.) But there they were, my 20-somethings enjoying their scotch like Don Draper from Mad Men. It was actually fun to watch. And funny to think that I would actually every be able to finish a glass.

At the same time, my wife was uncorking a nice bottle of 2000 French Bordeaux. Now, while I’m not much of a wine drinker, a least I can handle a glass of wine. And the smell of a 2000 Bordeaux is special. I love to smell the oak and the subtle aromas that come from every bottle. But after a few sips, I’m done with wine, too. I don’t think I’ve finished a glass of wine in 5 years. My wife and I have this little ‘drinking tango’ that we’ve perfected over the years. We both pour a glass, we both start to drink and when she’s finished her glass, she then finishes mine. She’s happy. I’m happy. In fact, there are times when I switch glasses with her without her asking. It looks like I’ve finished a glass, when I’ve barely had a few sips. It’s a win-win for everyone.

And now that brings me to beer. I don’t know why, but I can drink beer all day and all night and never get any kind of buzz. All I get is bloated and full. I think it was my years working on beer at two different agencies. I worked on everything from local Baltimore beers to the King of Beers, Budweiser. I was exclusively a Bud man when I was getting a free case every month for working on the brand. I realize that I don’t really drink much beer now. Sometimes when I do open a bottle, people notice.

Somehow I don’t get the same enjoyment from drinking. Perhaps I’ve become confortable not drinking. Perhaps I’m a control freak and don’t like the subtle loss of control that drinking brings. Perhaps I just prefer iced tea. Or perhaps there’s a guardian angel watching over me telling me to use judgment because I’m not a drinker.

Or perhaps I just don’t like to drink.


Agent K

When my daughters were younger, we used to have secret agent names for each other. At one point we added the letter “o” to our names, so my secret agent name was Daddy-o, and my daughters we Nikki-o and Kristen-o. But that got old, and we started using Agent R, Agent N and Agent K.

Not too long ago, I found a note hidden in a bracelet box from Agent K. It was written on notepaper and written in pre-teen cursive. Here’s the entire note – I love every word.

Hi, I’m Kris Levy and I like being me. I am comfortable in my skin and I don’t try to be someone I’m not. I really think that’s important, you know. I mean if you hate who you are, then what’s the point of living?

Some people think I’m ugly cause of a bad reputation. I go somewhere where they don’t know me and they think I’m a goddess – so I say: screw ‘em. If they’re not nice to you then why make peace – just ignore them (harder than it seems.) I haven’t quite gotten the knack of it yet.

A little more about me. I am not racist, but I don’t believe in dating out of race. I am nice and a little bit of a nuisance. I hate when people call me “not normal” and what is that? I am as of Feb 19th, 5’ 3” and 100 pounds. If you really care, I have size 8 feet, but that’s if you care.

I am good or personally extremely good at art. I want to be a fashion designer and put myself in my own runways and say hi to my friends back in Philly and say ‘Ha! I made it’ to my enemies. That would be a blast!!!

This is MY chat room – enter if you dare – but I’m warning you, ya better be nice – no cursing. This is a nice chat room. Well, I gotta go. I am kind of tired and my hand hurts so write to me at (—-) and live by this motto – “to fear love is to fear life. Take a deep breath, go for it and don’t ever look back.”

So long for now, yours,
Agent K

I love so much about this. I love that as a pre-teen my daughter knew she wanted to be a designer. And on Monday, she begins a new position as a Store Design Coordinator for Urban Outfitters. It seems she knew all along that this is where she belongs. After a stint at Free People (owned by the same company) – she’s moving onward and upward to the big brand. I’m very proud of her.

I also love that she knew from a young age that she wasn’t going to fit in everywhere. That certain people wouldn’t get her and certain people would treat her like a ‘goddess.’ She has always lived on her terms.

Congratulations Kristen on your new gig. It’s going to be amazing. I always new you could do it. I’m as proud as a father can possibly be. As you said in your hidden note, “go for it and don’t ever look back.”

I love you,

Agent R


What Makes A Best Friend?

After spending time with my high school yearbook over the weekend, I began thinking why did Ken and I remain best friends for so long, while other people simple became is distant memory?

What was it about our relationship that not only survived the test of time, but all the stupid stuff that gets in the way of long term relationships? Here are my thoughts:

Complementary talents
Ken was the most amazing athlete I ever met. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do. In football, basketball and baseball he was a star. He could have been the star of any team for which he played. He chose basketball as his lead sport. And he was very good at it. I was never much of an athlete in any sport but was instead very active in the arts. I would cheer for Ken at his games, he would be in the audience at my shows. We were never jealous of each other’s strengths. In fact, I think I know more about sports and he knows more about the arts because of our friendship.

We liked different girls
From the time we first started being interested in girls, we never once liked the same girls. We never even liked the same kind of girls. Ken always dated the sporty girl – the cheerleader, the soccer player, the track star. Of course, I always dated the artsy girl. The singer, dancer and artist. Ah, but here’s where it gets interesting – Ken married the artist and I married an incredible athlete. I think we married our complementary part. The part we feel most comfortable being around. When I’m around Ken’s wife, we always have things to talk about, books, movies, plays, art – and he always has great conversations with my wife, too. It’s kind of funny how things work out.

Money, money, money
I’ve known Ken for over 40 years and we’ve never borrowed money from each other. Not that I wouldn’t loan him money. In fact, I’d trust him with my entire bank account. (As an accountant, Ken did my taxes for years, so he knows more about my finances than I do.) But we’ve never borrowed from each other. We never had to have that uncomfortable ‘are you ever going to pay me back?’ conversation. I’m not saying it was critical – but I don’t think it hurt either.

Slightly dysfunctional families
Ken and I both had interesting families. Ken was child #3 of 4, I was #5 of 5. I didn’t even know he had an older sister until I was an adult. My oldest sister was married and out of the house before I even met him in the 4th grade. I think both of our families were very willing to have both of us out of the house as much as possible, which allowed us to go on countless adventures. We had a lot of fun.

There are times when I don’t talk to Ken for months and we can pick up right were we left off. We have so much history, we always have something to talk about, some memory to laugh about, some old story to tell again. It never gets old. In fact, it will never get old.

I met Ken when I was 9-years-old and in the 4th grade. I look at my 9-year-old, 4th grader son and think often that I hope he finds a best friend this year like I did. Someone who will bring him as much laughter, fun, good times, companionship, common sense and friendship.

As long as he doesn’t think he comes from a dysfunctional family.

PS: I’d love to know about your best friend, and why you think you’re so close.