|"First, I am born. Then the trouble begins."
-Steven Soderbergh ("Schizopolis")
Life of Neal: A Timeline
Jan. 1975: I am conceived, likely in the second-floor
southeast bedroom of our home in Penfield, NY, likely in the same
bed my mother currently sleeps in. This was no accident -- my
parents had been trying to give my brother a brother since the
late '60s. I was a child of age of science -- specifically, the fertility
pill. For once in my life, my arrival is eagerly anticipated.
Aug. 1975: Pregnant with me and therefore miserable
the heat, my mother convinces my father to purchase our first
window-mounted air conditioner. This will be the only air
conditioner in our home on a permanent basis until 1989. Like the
bed, the air conditioner is still in service. (They don't make 'em like
they used to...) Though this is probably unrelated, I will always
prefer my atmosphere to be a little bit on the cool side.
Oct. 23, 1975: Nearly three weeks behind schedule, I am
finally pushed kicking and screaming into the bright, scary world of
Rochester (NY) General Hospital, undoubtedly assisted by The
Machine That Goes "Ping." Childbirth was "natural," though my
clearly, was not: 10 lbs, 12 oz, 24-1/2 inches long. In the process,
my mom earns an irrevocable lifetime absolution for any and all
sins. I will never manage to get myself down to a normal size, and
will rarely be on time.
Oct. 31, 1975: While the gentile children run from house
to house gathering bags full of candy, I experience the
original "slasher" movie as I am forcibly initiated into my Tribe.
procedure involves a nice Jewish man, a very sharp knife, lots of
wine, and my privates. I am told it took quite a bit of the wine to
get me comfortable with the whole freaky scene.
Summer 1978: A whirlwind of activity. I take my first trip
on an airplane with my family -- to Florida, naturally, to experience
the nearly brand-new wonder that is Walt Disney World. We visit
relatives I probably won't see again until my bar mitzvah, but who
have a neat collection of 78s and in whose home I learn that
orange juice pulp is disgusting.
Later in 1978, I am introduced to my first big-kid bed. For
some reason, I don't remember being traumatized at such a
change in my everyday life. I guess you can get used to almost
anything when you're not quite 3 years old.
Summer 1980: I go with my mom to register for school,
the concept of which still mostly eludes me. The school people (or
perhaps just some other people present at school registration) give
me my first calendar, which I hang on the wall of my bedroom
above my first record player. I will go on to own and ignore many
calendars in the years to follow, but this will be my last record
player until 1991.
Later in 1980, my parents -- encouraged by our good
family friends the Rubins, and Mrs. Rubin in particular -- "ask" me
I'd like to start taking piano lessons. It seems I was fascinated by
the Rubins' baby grand, and we had just acquired an ancient
upright piano that my brother decided he didn't really want to play.
This began my musical education, which included 10 years of piano
lessons with Mrs. Gostomski and almost 15 total years of
involvement in the "listen and play" Suzuki Method of instruction. I
still can't read piano music to save my life.
Sept. 1980: I begin kindergarten with Mrs. McGlory, and
almost immediately realize that while other kids are unpredictable
and generally mean, adults are usually fair and easy to please. For
many years, this understanding will shape my destiny. I find
reading to be easy, writing less so. I am placed in a special extra
gym class for kids who are apparently too clumsy for their own
good. I become appallingly introspective, lost in my own universe
much of the time. I am traumatized by a movie that depicts a child
who doesn't take care of his things leaving an LP on a radiator,
which prompty melts and warps the black vinyl. For the next 5
years, I will be terrified whenever we get a long movie on a yellow
Coming soon: "1981-1997: The Education of a Shy,
Sensitive Jewish Boy on the Planet of the Bullies."
"I'm shy. It's endearing."
-Andy Richter ("Controls the Universe")
LU: "And who are they?"
DR. KLAHN: "Refuse. Found in waterfront bars."
DR. KLAHN: "Just lost, drunken men who don't know where
they are, and no longer care."
PRISONER #1: "Where are we?"
PRISONER #2: "I don't care."
LU: "And these?"
DR. KLAHN: "These are lost, drunken men who don't know
where they are, but DO care. And these are men who know where
they are and care -- but don't drink."
PRISONER #4: "Wait a minute -- I don't know where I am."
PRISONER #3: "Yeah, and I don't drink."
DR. KLAHN: "Guard!" (to #4) "Do you care?"
PRISONER #4: "No."
DR. KLAHN: "Put this man in cell number 1 and give him a
GUARD: "What do you drink?"
PRISONER #4: "I don't care."
"A world that loves its irony must hate the protest singer."
"There's a place for those who love their poetry
It's just across from the sign that says 'prose only.'"
"Remember when we said there was no future? Well, this is it."
"One moment please. I bring you a message.
"Exactly six miles north of Skagg Mountain, in the Valley of
there lives an evil devil-monster. His name is Bingo Gas Station
Motel Cheeseburger With A Side Of Aircraft Noise And You'll Be
Gary, Indiana. And he LOVES to hurt people. The last time I saw
Bingo Gas Station Motel Cheeseburger With A Side Of Aircraft
And You'll Be Gary, Indiana, he told me what he wants to do --
wants to come down here and kill each and every one of you. But
said to him, 'Bingo, wait a minute!' And the reason I said that
because I believe in you people. I believe you can do the job. I
believe you can help each other. I believe you can make this
a better place to live in.
- Alan Arbus as "Jessy" Christ in Robert Downey's "Greaser's