And That’s a Wrap

Posted on December 31, 2011


It’s been a great year and I’m going to hate to see it go.

I appeared in three plays: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; A Minor Case of Murder which I also wrote and co-directed; and Drift which we took to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My wife considered all three plays to be successes because none of my co-stars fell in love with me.

I rode a mechanical bull. I rode public transportation in five different countries. The Edinburgh bus drivers were the meanest, even meaner than the mechanical bull.

I snuck into the advanced salsa class and pretended I’d passed the qualification test when a substitute had filled in for the regular teacher. I’ve been faking my way in the advanced class for four months so I must be doing something right, although one girl from Uzbekistan keeps reminding me that my arm sometimes brushes against her hair–you can tell she spends a lot of time on her hair and I’d like to respect the cultural differences that make her hair so important to her. I’m going to work on not touching her hair in 2012.

The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. Sometimes we had to wake up at 3:30AM in order to host 4:00AM playoff parties for all our Shanghai Packer friends and that extra effort solidified our love of the team and became one of the great bonding experiences between Optimist Prime and me. Conversely, my love of the Packers made me a lot less interesting to my wife. My son and I also purchased team ownership shares. About twice a day we say something snooty about being owners while within earshot of others.

I met Bill Paxton and TV’s Eliza Coupe on the set of a movie filming in Shanghai when two of the actors in A Minor Case of Murder received small parts. One of my actors asked Eliza if she would come to the play. She said she would come the last night but she ended up shooting that evening. Bill was also invited but very politely and very quickly changed the subject. Otherwise, both were very nice but missed a great play. My wife and kids laughed even harder than they did during the numerous times they were ordered to laugh during rehearsals.

During the Edinburgh Fringe I met a lot of British celebrities I didn’t know were celebrities. One actor who had been on a popular British drama for ten years invited me for a drink while we waited for our next shows and we hung out with British comedian Sean Hughes for an hour. I didn’t know who the comedian was until my friend said he hadn’t been able to get tickets to Sean Hughes. I also didn’t learn until later that the actor who invited me for a drink was gay and was interested in me. It wasn’t awkward when I saw him later because I’m not the type to get embarrassed. I once came back to work late at night to retrieve my laptop and found the cleaning lady and her boyfriend intimately engaged in my office, and I actually apologized to them. In Chinese I said, “Sorry, I just need to get my computer and I’ll stop bothering you.”

I won a fathers and sons’ fantasy baseball league, securing the championship with a rout of my ten-year-old son’s best friend. I’d rather not talk about any of my fantasy football teams.

My friend Arran and I shared the greatest high five of our lives or quite possibly anybody’s life.

I hosted the second annual MonoPauly, an epic nine-round game for twenty friends I invented including trivia and all original challenges such as Stairball, Nerf gun fights, and a three-hole mini golf course I built in my house. The night ended in the awarding of prizes followed by a dance party and I led the group dance number from the Praise You music video.

I tried olives this year. They turned out to be pretty good. I don’t know what I was so worried about.

I got serious sunburns three times; I’m not exaggerating when I say all three occasions brought on some serious soul searching when I realized I couldn’t be nearly as smart as I kept telling people.

I read a lot of books but I’m not sure any one book was outstanding. I enjoyed Raymond Carver’s Cathedral. I found Steve Jobs new biography to be very interesting but was troubled by how terribly Jobs treated people. I reread A Confederacy of Dunces and decided to place it in my top five favorite books. Right now the list reads: The Great Gatsby, Harriet the Spy, The Shipping News, and A Confederacy of Dunces. I’m still torn on number five.

My favorite new comedy TV show was Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl. The best drama was Game of Thrones. The best movie by far was Tree of Life. I rarely watch movies anymore–maybe ten a year–but I watched Tree of Life four times in a month.

Not once was I mistaken for a famous celebrity.

It wasn’t all good news: Aunt Agatha and Aunt Dahlia died. Those were our goldfish. Just as sad was that no readers recognized the goldfishes’ names as Bertie Wooster’s two aunts from P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves series. I absolutely love these hilarious books and I can’t believe nobody’s familiar with them anymore.

A plant we’ve had about seven years is close to death and I’ve grown pretty attached. I tried talking to it after hearing this can help plants. I learned we don’t have a lot in common.

I fulfilled a dream of having a smoking jacket made. I fulfilled a second dream of actually wearing the jacket out in public. I fulfilled a third dream by receiving compliments on the smoking jacket. I fulfilled a fourth dream by receiving jealous glares from others.

I traveled to Scotland, Netherlands, South Korea, Indonesia, and spent the rest of my time in Shanghai, China. In all the world, if I had to select one place to haunt, I’d choose the grocery store on the street where I live. The store is only open from 7AM to 10PM so in the world of ghosting those are pretty good hours.

Most of all, I’m thrilled to have started this blog and received such an overwhelmingly positive response from readers.

Here’s a little New Year’s cheer: Zooey Deschanel and her co-star from 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, singing a duet, What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?

Posted in: Columns