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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Brother-In-Law

The annals of family humor are chock full of anecdotes about brothers-in-law. These stereotypical ne'er-do-well are traditionally a source of embarrassment for the long-suffering sister... and consternation (or worse) for her husband. 

In our family I'm the brother-in-law. :-)

You see, my younger sister married well. Very well.

Her husband seems to have succeeded at pretty much everything that has ever caught his interest... and his interests seem to know no bounds.

Food - He's a gourmet chef with a cutting edge kitchen and several complete walls full of cookbooks.

Wine - His 'EuroCave' is stocked with vintages I can't even pronounce, much less describe.

Sports - He's an avid cyclist who seems to hardly break a sweat riding a 'century' up to Bear Mountain and back.

Clothing - Jesse used to wear bespoke blazers and perfectly creased slacks to Sunday brunch at our place when we lived in Connecticut!

Erudition - Well, here's where I really start to fade fast in the rear-view mirror.  You see, my brother-in-law is a world-renowned lexicographer... not to mention one of the smartest people I know. 

I fancy myself rather adept with words.  For years I've been reading the NY Times - not because I like their editorial line - but for the high level of writing.  One day I opened up the Times to find a two-page center spread advertisement for the IBM Thinkpad featuring - you guessed it - my brother-in-law!  Nice!  Self-esteem takes a nice hit.

Speaking of 'The Times', I followed William Safire's 'On Language' column religiously for years... just to keep abreast of the latest buzz in the word dodge (it's always fun to get all snobby about some mistake in usage you were making until last week).  Then one day I found out that when William Safire needs an authoritative citation for some obscure slang word, he often quotes my brother-in-law. 

See what I mean?  How do you compete with that?!  :-)

The good news is that Jesse is pretty much impossible to dislike... and so far he has been nice enough to politely overlook any disparity in our respective book-learnin'.  And as a cherry on the cake... how can you not like a guy who wrote the authoritative reference book on the word 'F*CK'?

Anyway, I just wanted to alert you all to Jesse's latest interview on NPR.  He seems to get more press attention than Paris Hilton on a windy day.   But unlike Paris, Jesse's media exposure tends to excite the cerebral cortex rather than sending the viewer into 'libido overdrivus' (yes, all my Latin is borrowed from the sub-titles in Road Runner cartoons). 

I don't know what you call it when someone is unreasonably proud of a family member's accomplishments (for a parent, I think the technical term is 'Kvelling'), but if there is such a word, I'd bet money that my brother-in-law Jesse knows it. 

What, you're still here?  Go listen!

Posted by David Bogner on January 9, 2007 | Permalink


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Wow! cool guy! love the online OED - neat!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Jan 9, 2007 2:49:29 PM

I don't know... I'll believe he's your brother-in-law when he shows up here in the comments like the rest of us...

(And when he does, I'll have plenty of language questions for him...)

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jan 9, 2007 3:07:19 PM

Cool! I'll have to listen to the NPR show after work.

Posted by: seawitch | Jan 9, 2007 3:12:06 PM

I couldn't agree more with all of the above - which is why I married him! That said, I could easily fill pages with songs of praise for you, my brother. This incredibly lovely ditty was a perfect way to start the day. Thank you!

Posted by: Elizabeth | Jan 9, 2007 3:42:26 PM

wow, cool! touched by linguistic greatness ;-)

Posted by: Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) | Jan 9, 2007 4:12:14 PM

Lies, lies, all lies.

But very kind ones. Thanks, Dave.

Posted by: The Brother-in-Law | Jan 9, 2007 4:13:00 PM

We think Jesse's brother-in-law is very impressive, too.
Mom & Dad

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jan 9, 2007 4:24:23 PM

Ezer Knegdo... Me too, but now that the British Council is closing their library in Israel I'm losing my access to the online OED. Rats.

Dave (Balashon)... Well, that didn't take long (see below).

seawitch... Just don't go poking around over there at NPR after you listen to Jesse's interview... it's like Alice's rabbit hole over there with a political spin. :-)

Elizabeth... "I couldn't agree more with all of the above" Um, even the self-deprecating part where I ran myself down in order to make him look good? [sniff]

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)... Yup. And he even has great hair!

Jesse... Any time.

Mom & Dad... "We think Jesse's brother-in-law is very impressive, too" Well, yeah... I suppose Benjamin is pretty special too. ;-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 9, 2007 4:34:34 PM

I know just what you mean about brothers-in-law. When I married my wife, I got my first brother-in-law. He's an accountant, and frequently tries to give me ummmm... creative... tips. Then we played a board game together (I think it was called Chutzvah? Sort of a Jewish/Yiddish monopoly). I got a card "Oy, your brother-in-law the accountant gave you bad advice, pay $75 in legal fees. That was a riot. (he's still a great guy though)

Then my wife's sister married this other great guy: lawer, guitar player, went to Harvard, clerked for the Israeli supreme court, loves to correct my spelling in e-mails, etc. Makes me feel this big ->.<- But like yours, he's a great guy and I wouldn't trade him for anything. I miss them as they recently made Aliayah (taking my niece with them... how rude! :-) )

That brings up a question. What do you call a sister-in-law's husband? I thought he's a brother-in-law, but he didn't think that term applied. Not that it makes him any more or less family, but maybe your brother-in-law can help with the right label? :-)

Posted by: Nighthawk700 | Jan 9, 2007 5:36:52 PM

Very nice post, Dave. Actually, since Jesse is technically, the ONLY brother-in-law we (the 4-some) have, it's not much of a contest now, is it?!!! (but his credentials are impressive!)
However, since there are sensitive feelings/egos, all the in-laws in the family are pretty swell! We're very fortunate.

Posted by: val | Jan 9, 2007 6:23:53 PM

...and so far he has been nice enough to politely overlooked any disparity in our respective book-learnin'.

Ya mean ...to politely overlook?!

Sorry.... couldn't help myself.


Posted by: zahava | Jan 9, 2007 6:38:53 PM

Nighthawk700... It's tough being the underachiever in the family, no? :-)

Val... Very PC of you. :-)

Zahava... Very nice. We actually spoke on the phone today (y'know... when you called to ask me how to do a bold tag!) and you could have easily mentioned the typo... but nooooooooo.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 9, 2007 7:01:36 PM

Don't thank me, babe -- I'm a giver! ;-P

Posted by: zahava | Jan 9, 2007 7:03:49 PM

Don't thank me, babe -- I'm a giver! ;-P

Posted by: zahava | Jan 9, 2007 7:03:50 PM

But Trep...does BIL have a world-renowned blog? I doubt it.

Posted by: Kiwi the Geek | Jan 9, 2007 7:10:43 PM

Yeah, yeah... but does he play trombone?!

Posted by: Wrymouth | Jan 9, 2007 8:46:56 PM

Pretty cool to have such a fun-sound BIL! (Then again, at this point, it's pretty cool to have ANY BIL period... *Sigh*) That must be a hilarious book! How come you never blogged about it? : )

Posted by: Irina | Jan 9, 2007 9:59:50 PM

He does sound mighty fascinating. When my sister-in-law married into the family, we all went down a notch in terms of favorites, but we adore her and I always say she is the best thing that ever happened to our family, so we forgive her :)
Hmmm...maybe I should make her a blog post topic, too? (I think she'd kill me)

Posted by: Sara K | Jan 9, 2007 11:00:15 PM

I have three BILs. One is a real live rocket scientist, one is an exceptional MD and one is well, he makes my sister happy.

Family sure is grand. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 9, 2007 11:27:53 PM

Very cool. I liked the NPR story. However, as an English teacher, I have to point out that "to politely overlook" still splits the infinitive ;-), although it's less jarring without the "s."

Posted by: Annie | Jan 10, 2007 5:16:04 AM

I am glad someone pointed your split infinitive. I was going to but Type Pad picked that time to start acting up.
I heard the original broadcast, as I am naturally an NPR fiend. My reaction was the following: "Hey, I led the Band at this guy's wedding!"
Seeing as they are still married, i think I did a damn good job.
Enough about me.....

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jan 10, 2007 5:20:11 AM

Oops. Meant to say "pointed out"

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Jan 10, 2007 5:21:18 AM

Zahava... Trouble with the 'submit' button? tsk, tsk tsk. :-)

Kiwi the Geek... He's an Editor-at-Large of the most respected and scholarly compilation the English language has ever known. I think that kinda trumps a blog. :-)

Wrymouth... Thank G-d he never tried or I would have nothing on which to hang my hat! :-)

Irina... Having grown up with no first cousins and only a small handful of second cousins with whom we had almost no contact I can assure you I appreciate our growing family very much.

Sara K... That's the whole fun of having a blog! :-)

Jack... Yes it is. :-)

Annie... Thanks, my self-esteem needed another whack with the smart stick. :-)

Jordan Hirsch... Yours is nonsense up with which I shall not put! :-) BTW, kinda sucks when you're being all pedantic and you blow it? Kinda like telling someone off in a public place and then turning around and storming out with a streamer of toilet paper flapping from your heel and the hem of your skirt tucked into your pantyhose. However I have to admit that the band you led that night was the best I ever heard in all my years in the 'biz'.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 10, 2007 9:16:48 AM

Actually only submitted once. Not sure what happened there.

Still sore I caught your error and posted it without calling? Hmmmmmm?!

Posted by: zahava | Jan 10, 2007 10:48:08 AM

Zahava... Sorry you had to bark your shins on the sharp edge of technology, honey. From now on just click the little button once. :-) As for why I might or might not be 'sore'... you DID call! You called me to ask how to do a bold tag. I had no idea you were going to use my assistance to poke fun at me. Sore? No, not me.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 10, 2007 11:06:35 AM

How many people read his publication on a daily basis purely for enjoyment? The OED is certainly respected, but your blog (and you) is loved.

I originally came here to learn about Israel, but now I read almost everything except politics. You're just irresistible!

Posted by: Kiwi the Geek | Jan 10, 2007 2:23:40 PM

Nice interplay with Mrs. Trepp there, Dave. Hmmm....methinks it'll be the only play around the Bogner house for a while.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Jan 11, 2007 3:50:01 AM

Your so right, it is so important for people to speak well they're language. I'm adament about that.

(There is a singer called Jens Lekman that has a song called "F-word". It is actually a rather beautiful song, with cats and cicadas in the background, not at all what the title would lead one to believe. It is our song actually, and I always get mooshy when I hear it.)

Posted by: Lioness | Jan 11, 2007 1:52:49 PM

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