Jul 15, 2010

A Thursday Night At The Elkridge Superfresh.

This evening, we had Nichole's (wife) little sister Haley over to hang out and make some cookies with myself and Kelsey (stepdaughter). At Nichole's recent baby shower, we received a pack of 4 cookie cutters - but not just ANY cookie cutters.... Star Wars cookie cutters. Thanks Aunt Kim!!

For those that are not aware, I have a borderline unhealthy adoration for the original Star Wars movies. I mean, my god, we're naming our son Lucas.

AnyForceBeWithYou, we decided to make some cookies tonight, using the new cookie cutters. Something fun for both the girls and myself and mainly myself. I selected pre-made Nestle Tollhouse cookie dough, which I will not use anymore because the cookies went from relatively soft to cement hard in the time it took me to get home from my Superfresh trip, the ultimate subject of this blog. I'll get there, I just have to do it in a round-about way.

We worked the dough, made the shapes (Darth Vader, Yoda, Stormtrooper, and Boba Fett - pronounced several times as 'Bobba Fett' by Kelsey), and cooked the cookies. 11 minutes later, it was time to feast. As I poured the girls each a glass of ice cold milk, I noticed there was roughly enough milk to provide myself with a moist tongue.

This. Shall. Not. Stand.

I don't know about you, but I needs my milks with my cookies. It has to happen. Cookies without milk is like having cookies without milk. It's an affront to nature, and I'm almost certain can be found somewhere in the Bible. Right between Cain & Abel and the first appearance of the Easter Bunny. If there were 11 Commandments, everyone would make sure to have some milk around.

Now, I did not want to go to the store for milk. It was pretty much at the bottom of my Things I Want To Do Right Now list. Unfortunately, my need for that cold, creamy, white concoction would not be denied. I grabbed my keys, threw on some shoes, and headed out to the Elkridge Superfresh, right up the street from my house.

Boy, am I glad I did. And not just because I got some milk. Which was also good.

I pulled up to the store, and since it was a Thursday night at 9:30pm or so, I was able to get a good parking spot. That, however, doesn't matter.

I walked into the store. The first person I saw was a teenage girl, roughly 14 years of age. She was wearing her bathing suit and some flip-flops, with a little dress-type-thing covering from mid-chest to mid-thigh. It was baby blue and said Baby Phat on the back. In cursive.

The next person to delight my eyes was her little brother, pushing a cart in front of her. He was wearing regular little boy clothing, nothing interesting. The interesting part was his hair, which was an unbelievably well crafted mullet. The kind one does not expect to see on a roughly 11 year old boy. Short and spiky in the front, continuing halfway to the back where it began to flow into a beautiful Party In The Back. This party didn't end at the shoulders, though. Oh, no... no no no. It continued down to about mid-chest. This, given the boy's youth, means it had been cultivated to this point for pretty much his whole life. Awesome.

The trend continues.

The next person I see is the older brother. His hair is tied back in a pony tail, and thus the mullet was not as noticeable at first, and yet no less there. The Party portion had been fastened with a hair tie and pulled back, allowing the Business In The Front to first catch your eye. This young man had decided to go with the shaggy Business end, which caused a more gradual transformation into the mullet he obviously adored and yet rarely washed.

Next was the mother, who appeared to enjoy herself a dark tan, causing the leathery appeal her skin took. I cannot be sure, but if I was to guess the content of her purse, the words Parliaments or Pall Malls would be the first things out of my mouth.

Walking with her was a little girl, maybe Kelsey's age - right around 6 or 7. She looked fine.

And then, striding along with purpose in his sweat shorts and grey-ish tye-dye looking-ish t-shirt, was the Patriarch. The man with the plan. Sir Mulleton of Mullshire. His hair almost exactly mirrored the youngest boy's, with the shaved and spiky Business leading the charge, the Party taking up the rear and doing it well. As a direct result of approaching the twilight of life, his Party had taken on a darker grey appearance. This may come across as dignified in some men, as my grey hair definitely does for myself. In this fashion, however, it exuded a kind of statuesque sadness. Like a man holding on to times past, when you looked life in the eye and gave it the finger. Where you laughed at fate while pissing into the wind. A time when you shook your fist in anger at the sky after vomiting half a keg of Miller Lite.

A friendlier time.

A time where it was okay to play with Star Wars toys in the bathtub.

So, that was the Mullet Family. If my description seems harsh and mocking, let me add that not a one of them seemed unhappy or angry. They were just a family doing some late Thursday night shopping. The only one that seemed moody was the teenage girl, and she is a teenage girl.

I moved on, passing a freezer aisle. In passing, I noticed a neighbor of mine in the aisle. She was pulling items out of the freezer and placing them on the ground. I suppose things were being moved to get to other things, but I can't be sure because my vantage point was not as much as a Stop And Stare, but rather a Hope You Don't See Me move. What I was able to notice was her child sitting on the floor amongst the random grocery objects, playing with them. Her little tiny child, on the floor of the supermarket, late in the evening, playing with freezer products.

And so I continued on to the milk aisle. At this point, I have been in the store for roughly 90 seconds. A much, much shorter time than you have spent reading this entry. I apologize for the length, but I prefer embellishment to stark facts and figures.

I grabbed the milk, turned around, and headed back out of the aisle. What greeted me as I rounded the corner - the same corner I had just gone around the get to the milk - had not been there 20 seconds before.

There were two heavyset girls standing in front of the ice cream section, debating on what ice cream to buy. They were listing their likes and dislikes, and I was judging books by the covers.

One girl had very short hair, almost lesbian-butch. Now, I am not homophobic nor do I care who dates who and in what way, I am simply using the term as an example. Whether you like it or not, every one of you knows exactly the hairstyle I am speaking of, so shut it. She had on normal clothing, but had the voice tenor of a 'Valley Girl' from The Hills. It was surprising to hear.

Her friend was wearing... well, I am not sure how to describe it without using the word 'tutu'.

So, her friend was wearing a tutu. I suppose it would technically be thought of as a skirt, but she could have also broke into a ballet routine in the store and been dressed correctly for it. Her legs were adorned in tights, a cascading pattern of white and black stripes. Think Cat In The Hat, but without the primary coloring. Her shirt was very tight, and her hair was at least four different colors. Maybe five, if you include black. Different color shoelaces.

Did I mention I left my phone at home? Nichole told me to take it, but it was just a short hop to the store, so I just left it home. My phone has a camera on it, and I have the camera noise muted so no one would have known if I had been taken pictures.

I then paid for my milk in the self-checkout, nodded and smiled at the very bored looking girl who is in charge of the self-checkout should someone use it incorrectly which always happens and usually to me where the light goes off because the jar of peanut butter tipped over on the way down the moving platform and now I gotta wait for the attendant person because they are currently helping the other person with their peanut butter mishap and the woman with two huge carts of stuff is walking out the door and she is the person I was going to get behind in the normal checkout aisle before I noticed the self-checkout line was clear and moved over to use that and isn't modern technology super?

Walking to my car, I noticed someone had parked beside me, as sometimes happens in parking lots. Nothing unusual about that. It was a white pick-up truck, and had a neat looking rail type system going around the bed of the truck. This went up the side and the back, and had two lights fastened to it that shone over the cab. This same type of railing was at the bottom beneath the door, as well as attached to the front bumper.

I came closer. The whole thing was made out of PVC piping. It was like someone in shop class made a very complicated bong out of PVC pipes and connected it to their truck.

At this point, I hopped into my car and headed home, eager to relate this tremendous experience to Nichole, who agreed to do all of our shopping at Superfresh around 9:00pm on Thursday nights.

Having passed sound judgement on a wide selection of people whom I know nothing about, I can follow it with this:

That guy who jumped into his car and went home with his milk did so in mesh shorts, beat up shoes with no socks, is a 32 year old white person blaring Eminem from his Jeep.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

May 4, 2010

Don't tase him, bro!! Wait... no, go ahead.

For those that are unaware, many people in our country play sports. They play at many different levels, including professional, collegiate, and recreational. On top of that surprising newsflash, even more people in our country are sports fans.

This can include the casual fan; "Yeah, I follow the O's when they're winning," which at this point in the franchise's history means the fan is aware of the team's existence.

This can also include the rabid fan; "I roundhouse kicked my dog in the face for a pair of Steelers tickets." I use that example because I feel it is something a Pittsburgh fan would be capable of doing.

Some of us watch games at home, and some of us will attend the game itself, live in the flesh. When we do choose the latter, it typically involves a higher level of participation than one would give the sporting event from the comfort of the couch. You yell louder, you become more of an expert on what the coach should have done, and you tend to drink a little more - because a beer that costs $7.50 just has to be delicious.

There are others in this world who like to take the next step in fan-dom, and actually take the field. You see this happen a lot in college, where fans will storm the field or court or dormroom or wherever their team just dominated. Less frequently, you see this in professional sports, where a long gunman will decide it is his or her - usually his - time to shine. When this decision is made, they become That Guy On The Field.

I know you've become incredibly bored by now, so luckily for you, I have arrived at the crux of this blog. This past Monday night, a Philadelphia Phillies fan made a Great Decision, and ran out onto the field during the Phillies game against the Cardinals.

"A Phillies fan did this?!?" you exclaim in complete mock surprise. "No way, I don't believe it. Not from a Philadelphia sports fan."

Normally, I would agree with you, as we all know Philly fans to be the more docile of the bunch. Sometimes, though, it only takes on bad apple.

Well, this bad apple ended up getting tasered by security for his indiscretion. The reason I felt inclined to pepper you with run-on sentences and forcibly bad grammar is the reaction some people are having over this incident. The question has been raised regarding whether or not the use of the taser was excessive in stopping the rabid fan from making more of an ass of himself.

Was the use of a taser necessary? Could it be the security guard went over the line and used bad judgment in tasering the offending fan?

No.

Running out onto the field of play is not allowed by fans. We all know this to be true. Even Philadelphia fans can tell you it is not permitted. How is anyone to know whether or not this guy intended harm to a player? How are we to know whether or not this person was a huge fan of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia and decided he wanted to kiss Chase Utley as bad as Mac wanted to be Utley's best friend?

Regardless of any ill intent, you can't run on the field. You know that. Even hammered, you know that. The security on duty has to immediately assume the worst when a fan comes onto the field, because to do any less would be a dereliction of duty by said officer. If the security guard slowly trots after you while mildly suggesting in his inside voice that you might want to maybe consider please not doing that anymore, he is going to find his job position up for grabs before the game is over.

When you buy a ticket, you are given the right to attend the game, have fun, yell at players, get rowdy - to an extent - with the fans. You are given the right to do all of that within the confines of the stadium, the field being the only exception to the rule. You ignore that exception, you deserve what's coming to you.

What's coming to you should not be a shouted warning to quit it. It should not be a rough shove to the ground by the security team. It should not be a clothesline by a player.

What's coming to you should be the standard police taser voltage level of 50,000 volts. See if you do THAT again, numbnuts.



For extra fun, I have included this link to Baltimore Colt Mike Curtis's hit on a fan way back in '71.

Apr 15, 2010

Coming To Terms.

Before I begin to amaze you with the Irrelevant To Real Life thought stream I usually dole out, a warning of sorts. This blog contains spoilers in regards to the excellent television series The Wire. If you have not watched the series, but intend to, you should stop reading the entry right about now. If you would like to continue for a few sentences, that's fine, but things are going to heat up quick and I wanted you to be prepared. If you have already watched the entire series, then feel free to continue on and live a life of religious fulfillment. Points if you know from whence the end to that sentence came. Now, onward.

_____________________


There comes a time in everyone's life when one must come to grips (or terms, if we want to keep the title of this blog in the loop) with the idea and reality of death. Death comes in many forms. There are violent deaths, death from disease, natural causes, and my favorite - auto-erotic asphyxiation. People die every day, and we have all been touched by the death of a loved one at some time or another.

Sometimes these deaths are very hard to deal with, and other times we are so removed from the subject that we can be seen as callous. Why don't you care, someone asks you with rage in their soul and a poppy seed in their teeth. Truth is, most of us do care, but there has to be a point where you can turn yourself off a bit in order to get through life. I mean, if we all reacted to every death with the same emotional intensity, then I would never be able to get the maintenance guy to fix my stepdaughter's closet.

And that's hard enough as it is.

So, death is a serious issue. We can be aloof, but the truth remains - we are going to die. Someone who loves us will mourn, someone who respects us will whisper, "I really respected him" at our funeral, possibly to the most attractive other mourner. Death should not be treated lightly - as I seem to be doing here - as it comes for us all. Death is the great unifier.

Keeping all of this in mind, I have been affected intensely by death. This happened just yesterday, when I witnessed Omar Little being shot in the back of the head. And by a young kid, of all people!! Are you kidding me?? One of the most incredibly engaging and badass characters in telematic history, and you allow him to be popped by some little punk who likes to torture animals? Shame on you.

What? Telematic? You know, like cinematic. No, I'm not using the term correctly, but you're still with me, right? So shut up then.

When I saw Omar get shot, I was alone in my bed, clad only in boxers - the best way to watch The Wire, I've found. I immediately muttered something I refuse to repost here, as it contains strong language and adult situations. Mild nudity. At first, I was very disappointed in how it all went down. Here you have the aforementioned badass, on the hunt for the drug dealer who had a good friend of his murdered. This is long after getting revenge on another drug dealer for viciously murdering his gay lover.

This is Omar at his finest. Hunting, methodically taking apart a drug organization all by his lonesome. Tracking these thugs down one by one and generally making every scene in which he appears awesome. So I was annoyed at the death. It was so quick and easy, it felt to me like a total cop-out. Like the ending to the Sopranos. They took the most intense story-line of the season and ended it without any sense of payoff whatsoever.

This is what I thought at first.

Later that day, I was coming to terms (HA!! HE SAID IT!!!) with what had happened. Okay, I said, I see how it is. This show is grounded in real life. In real life, it is absurd to think that one man can roam the streets of Baltimore, killing people and robbing drug dealers by himself, announcing his presence by whistling when he's out and about, and not become a victim himself. These drug dealers have large entourages, all of them armed and dangerous. It is dumb to think that he can just stroll as he sees fit and not receive his comeuppance. Also, his death gave the detectives working the main drug dealer something more to go on in linking Cheese to Marlo. So in effect, he may have gained his revenge posthumously. Add to that, he had recently been allowed to survive a 5 story fall off of a balcony during an apartment shootout. The man cannot be invincible. Having the young kid suddenly shoot him in the back of the head while he was buying cigarettes keeps him from being taken out by Marlo and his crew, therefore robbing them of the satisfaction. It would have been much more painful to see Snoop be the killer. So, as I said, it would be dumb to assume he can get his revenge and roll off into the sunset.

Now, the day after, I say Let Us Be Dumb. We have already been exposed to several other deaths, some of characters we grow to like. In almost all of these instances, they are killed quickly and without fanfare. Examples? Okay.

De'Angelo Barksdale. He is a sympathetic character most of the way through. He is killed when strangled from behind in prison.

Orlando. He is mostly a worthless character, but still, you felt bad for him because you knew he was over his head. Killed quickly in a set up.

Bodie. You hated him in the first season, but by the time he is killed, you enjoy seeing him whenever he pops up. Especially when spitting or jawing with the cops - primarily McNulty or Carver. How does he go out? Shot in the back of the head. Boom, done.

Frank Sobotka. Walking one day, floating in the harbor the next. This one is not as much a complaint, as it was done very well - going from episode to episode. It still remains an unsatisfying death, though.

The only really good death we received was Stringer Bell. Running from both Brother Mouzone and Omar? You know that is not going to end well.

So with these quick and easy deaths, why can't Omar win? Why can't he wade through Marlo's crew like naked chicks through pudding? Why can't he come face to face with Marlo after opening Snoop's chest with his shotgun? Why can't the anti-hero win?

You know, I am also okay with his having to die. Why not, though, in a blaze of glory? Maybe he doesn't get to Marlo, but maybe he takes out Snoop and Chris on the way. Maybe Michael is the one who kills Omar like he did Bodie, but only after Omar rips through a fortified row-house like Wolverine ripped through the X-Mansion.

I am officially back to feeling as if Omar's death was a cop-out. The writers looked at each other and said, "Let's be real here. Omar has to die. He can't do this. It's unrealistic."

As unrealistic as McNulty creating a fake serial killer? As unrealistic as a guy such as Bunk getting as many extra-curricular women as he did? Every season seems to end the same, essentially. The main story-line wraps up - mostly - and we get a montage of scenes, basically showing that things don't change in the long run. The dealers still run the corners, the cops still make half-assed attempts to stop them. The main characters keep plodding along, even when they know they are fighting a losing battle.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love this show. I think The Wire is easily one of the best television series I have ever watched. The acting is great, the cinematography (telematography?) is great, and the stories are great. Almost every character evokes the exact reaction they are going for from the viewer. You love McNulty, but hate him for how he acts. You see Herc as mainly comic relief, but feel for him when he gets in over his head. You just straight up HATE Levy and Clay Davis, even though you smile a bit when Clay gives his patented "Shiiiiiiiiiit."

The Wire is a superb show. WAS a superb show, and it should have been able to continue.

Still, I cannot shake being highly steamed, miffed, and nettled by the cheap death of Omar. He deserved better, even if he deserved to die.

R.I.P. Omar Little. The cheese stands alone.

Aug 8, 2008

School Supplies and an Empty Notebook.

It's safe to say I was never really a fan of school.

There are two slight exceptions to that statement, one of which being the first week or so of every year.  For some reason, one that I attribute to brief psychotic episodes, I was up and raring to go bright and early for the first week.  Every day I would wake up with plenty of time to spare, and typically get to either school itself or the bus stop very early.  I would stuff my backpack with excitement and adventure, then head off to an institute of learning, all bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to ace every test those cool new teachers threw at me.

The second week, it took my Mom 30 minutes at least to get my lazy ass out of bed.  I would stall, then trudge to the bus stop, scowling the whole way, indignant at being awoken before lunchtime.  My backpack was heavier, my old uncool teachers were ants to be squashed beneath my shoe, and every other person besides me and my friends sucked.  This was the type of malign that even a Star Crunch couldn't quell.

The other exception to my Hating Of School was my youth.  In Kindergarten and the beginning of Elementary school, you look forward to the day.  Everything is new, and you are fawned over when succeeding in learning.  You spelled "Forest"?  You, my friend, get a gold star.

A gold star!  How totally boss was a gold star?  You had the chart, and right next to your name, right there for everyone to see, was a shiny small not-worth-money-but-worth-more-than-real-gold gold star.  And it was all yours.  Why?  Because you did a Good Job.

Good Jobs were praised.  You felt good all over.  Hell, you felt good enough to share your paste with whoever might have a spoon handy.

Then you moved on to 1st grade.  During your time in 1st to 3rd or so grades, that Good Job feeling remained, but for some reason it seemed to wain somewhat.  You were happy, and you were praised, but not in that "Holy Crap You Are The Smartest Kid Ever" voice the teacher used.  Instead, these new teachers used the "Good work, but that's to be expected" voice.  There is an enormous difference here.

Then, in 4th grade, you realize you are doing Work.  You're not playing, or napping, or getting gold stars.  You're being graded.  You're doing something right, or you're doing it wrong.  There's no more, "Almost, but it's pronounced Spah-Get-Tee".   It's now, "Wrong.  Do it again, but this time, get it right or I use the text book to paper cut your face, bitch."

Harsh?  Maybe.  But also completely true.

So I didn't like school.  You know what I did like?  School supplies.  Ah!  The blog title begins to pay off, no?

The best part of school starting was going to get the new school supplies.  New clothes?  Whatever.  New shoes?  My old ones were fine.  New haircut?  Mom never did let me get the Mr. T mohawk.  But new notebooks?  New pads of paper?  New and different kinds of pens?  NEW TRAPPER KEEPER??  Cha-ching!!

I loved getting this stuff.  Early on, it was custom Trapper Keepers.  Dukes of Hazzard, Knight Rider, etc.  Then, I moved on to the blank ones and never looked back.  Why?  You could write stuff on them, therefore making the Trapper Keeper more personal to you than your own identity.

"How it that possible?" You ask with the look of passion on your face and the devil in your eyes.  Simple.  It's because it WAS your identity.  Every single piece of paper you received went into that thing.  Sure, folders held stuff too, but by the end of the school year that binder was filled so thick Geraldo could have done a special on it.  Your name was written on it twenty times in twenty different fonts.  There were pictures of lightsabers and bugs and weird faces and band names and friend's signatures and crude words scribbled out.  It was personal.  It was life.

That new pen with the four different pen colors?  You tell me you didn't love that thing like you loved your pet and I'll tell you to shut your whore mouth before God punishes you for such blasphemy.

That new mini-sack-o'-pencils?  How many of those did you loose in life-or-death Pencil Fights?  You would plead with your mother for thicker pencils.  Sure they cost more, but how else were you supposed to contend with Johnny Finkleheimerski when he was strutting around, wielding his Black Knight?

I actually got moved to the front of the bus once for pencil fighting.  That was a fun morning.

Now, as much as I loved those supplies, my favorite is and always has been the Brand New Notebook.  Whether it be one of those black and white covered journals, or one with the metal rings.  Wide ruled or college ruled.  None of it mattered.

To me, there is nothing more inviting and intriguing than an empty notebook.  It's just sitting there, waiting for you to have your way with it.  Ranging from small doodles to personal thoughts to school assignments you are planning to half ass your way through, there is some kind of magic intrinsic in it's design.  You stare at it, wondering what will come out as you put pen to page.

I have one of those journals right now, sitting in my room.  I bought it a few weeks ago, and as of yet it only has two entries in it.  One of them is about ball scratching.  I might post it sometime.  It only has two entries, but for me, that's not the point.  The point is, what it might contain.  What I might decide to put in there.  The possibilities are endless.

Hell, I might someday write the Great American Blog within those pages.

Because this one is definitely not it.

May 3, 2008

(Kind of almost but not really the) Best. Place. Ever.

   I don't get to see my friend Joe nearly as much as I should.  This is a guy I met when I was roughly 3 to 4 years old and have been friends with all my life.  This is a guy I intend to stay friends with for the rest of my life.  We grew up, for the first part of our childhood, in the same neighborhood of townhouses.  In fact, we both had end units, and we could walk to each others houses via a creek running through the neighborhood.  It was pretty sweet.
   Our childhood consisted of making up rules for the game we invented, "Supercars" (a game consisting of matchbox cars and hours of the phrase 'Let's pretend...' that kept us from actually playing at all), trading Star Wars toys, and mucking around in the creek looking for things that we did not want to touch and yet felt compelled to touch.

   He lives in White Marsh these days, while I reside in Elkridge.  This is a 30 minute drive or so, and with his normal schedule and my television crappy schedule, sometimes it's hard to find the time to get together.

   Interesting note.  We both have girlfriends named Nichole.  Except his spells it Nicole, no H.  I believe that is the more common spelling, and is used to avoid the phonetic pronunciation, "NI-CH-OLE".  I was trying to convey the "CHUH" in the middle.

   This will lead us to the Best. Place. Ever., I promise.

   Starting now.  So we made plans to hang out and go to Hersheypark last Sunday.  I had taken the day off and everything.  We were ready to ride some rides, eat some over-priced food, and revert to the children we once were.
   This, however, did not occur.  Due to unnamed complications, we were not able to go, so we planned an alternate....    plan.

   A few weeks earlier, Joe had sent me a text message while at an arcade.  Not any arcade, but 
one with a whole room full of old school arcade games from the 80's and early 90's.  None of these newfangled, 2 dollar a life games the kids are playing nowadays, where everything is a shoot-em-up or driving game.  I'm talking the old, 25 cents a pop, 2-D, side-scrolling, simple graphics, might-work-and-might-not games of my youth.  The ones they had in Playland in Ocean City, the ones they replaced with the aforementioned crappy new games that I do not
 care for, thank you very much.
   This was now our destination for our make-up play date.

   That didn't come out right.  But it stands.

   The place, as I'm sure you are now simply chomping at the bit, is called Crab Towne USA, and is located in the bustling suburb we Marylanders know and love; Glen Burnie.
   It is a local dive, basically, serving crabs and other random foodstuffs.  What follows is one of many awesome reviews Crab Towne has received:

I drove over 45 mins yesterday to have crabs and was treated veryl poorly. I have had crabs here several times in the past and was satisfied. I have never tried the all you can eat menu. Yesterday I ordered the all-u-can eat and left the restaurant very unhappy. The service was embrassing. The waitress we had left to go home and left us to another waitress. My god daughter had to go up to the register to ask if I could get more crabs, the first batch was awful, only 4 crabs could be eaten, the rest was empty and had a awful smell as though they were old. I asked for no seasons and I feel that caused a problem, because as we watch other customers be served, they were served well. I was given on beer and not aked if I would like another one, There was a motorcycle couple in there that keep crabs in front of them. There was a mixed
 couple in there and they kept crabs in front of them. THIS PLACE IS PREJUDICE. MY PERSONAL FEELINGS.


   Yes, the place is prejudiced, because a MIXED COUPLE received crabs and you did not.  Even though you AKED.  This review was copied and pasted from a website, not a word was changed.  I know.  Awesome.

 
  So we decided to go.  The allure, for me, was two-fold.  One, the games.  A whole big room of old games and old pinball machines.  All, with the exception of only a scant few, costing no more than 25 cents.  The second allure was the beer.  I could get a beer and go play the games while drinking the beer.  My excitement was palpable.

   The beer selection was minor, but who am I to complain, really?  I selected  Corona, although Joe was insistent that I drink a tall Budweiser can.  I felt I should oblige him, as the man has not had a drink for many years, but I do not like Budweiser and therefore did not.
   We didn't eat there, both because we had gone somewhere else to eat beforehand and because of the many awesome reviews.

   Walking in, you are greeted with the scent of Old Bay and the sight of at least a dozen or more
 people playing Keno and some sort of computerized horse racing game.  These people looked very, very happy to be there.  The main room has all tables and benches and all, with plenty of counter space to choose from as well.  You can pretty much just pass right by and head to the register, where we had to get quarters because the machine they have is broken.  Take an immediate right, and you're in the game room.

   First impression, you will be awed and amazed by the general disrepair of the room.  It looks kind of dirty, but that only adds to the old-timey charm.  By old-timey I of course mean the 80's.  Also, you will notice that several of the games do not work.  This is done on purpose.  Making several games not work makes the games that work that much more fun and exciting to play.

   I would be remiss if I do not mention several things specifically.  The first game I played was Dig Dug.  This is an excellent game featuring a little guy that digs holes in order to kill tiny dragons and little ball guys.  Killing these enemies is done with a pump that shoots out and attaches to them.  You hit the button repeatedly, blowing them up bigger and bigger until they pop.  It actually comes across as quite painful.  Once every enemy is done, you go on to the next level.  Make sure you head right to the top after killing the second to last enemy, because the last enemy will try to escape, robbing you of some very important points if they escape.  I believe I made it to level 8 before both getting killed and losing interest.  Just like when I was a kid!

I would be remiss yet again if I do not mention specifically by name and fuzzy picture one of the
 best side scrolling fighting games ever produced by modern man.  The picture can be found to the right and the game goes by the name of Final Fight.  This game rules.  You can choose from three players; Cody (the blonde haired street fighter), Guy (basically the Ryu character - ninja dude), or Haggar (the big wrestler dude and my favorite character to play).  The idea is to fight through each level and not die.  This is not going to happen, as they throw as many enemies as they can at you, resulting in inevitable screen lag, putting the entire melee into slow motion for a bit here or there.

There were more gems than just those two, obviously.  The original Tapper was a pleasant surprise.  When I say original, I mean the one where you are serving real beer, not root beer.  The good stuff.  The one where the little evil guy who shakes the cans is shaking cans of Budweiser, not soda.  I don't want to brag, but I got the #1 spot there.  Unfortunately I had to go with AWE as my initials, because I hit the button on A and didn't know how to take it back.  Damn shame, that.

There were so many different games, it was hard to really pick the stand-outs.  I did anyway, though, because I'm the kind of guy who likes a challenge.  Plus, I like to party.  I found two games right next to each other that garnered my interest.  The reasons might be obvious.  The Batman game is pretty cool, but the real winner is Superman.  Another good side scrolling adventure where you punch and kick your way through levels, each contact made is punctuated by a great fist-to-face sound.  There are also levels you fly through using either punches or heat ray vision.  Very, very good stuff.

On a side note:  A place such as this is bound to have the original Donkey Kong.  They did.  It's right beside this sentence.  
This is nothing unusual, but what I wanted to point out is the depiction of Mario himself.  It's pretty similar to every other picture of Mario you have seen throughout the years.  
What's really great about Mario, is that he bears a startling resemblance to our IT guy at my work.  It's gone so far as people talking like Mario when he is paged over the intercom.  It's also amusing because our IT guy is constantly Out Of The Office, as evidenced by his numerous emails pointing out his being Out Of The Office.

I would like to cap this all off with two more examples of why Crab Towne USA is awesome.  Two pinballs machines that I thoroughly enjoyed playing, even though I won no tickets or got a high score.  Or even near a high score.  The first one was the KISS pinball machine.  I know KISS has a hand in every kind of merchandise humanly possible.  KISS toilet paper might be may favorite.  This was good too, though.  You can tell it's an oldy because of the lack of bells and whistles.  The machine still had things that made noise a lit up and sparkled and sprung and all, but it wasn't overwhelmed with different tracks and holes and levels and flippers and all.

The second was the Star Wars pinball machine.  I took a picture of this one, but it was all blurry and not worth posting.  It's unfortunate too, because many will remember this machine in that it was one of the first amped up games, at least that I recall or cared to play, I suppose.  There is a mini-death star you have to hit the ball into to blow up, a small R2D2 you can make shake around, and if you light up C3PO's eyes you get an extra ball.  Sweet ass sweet.

I know I went on far too long for such a simple subject and even simpler place.  I did not know it existed until recently, so this explains my excitement.  I don't think I had talked about it here yet, but I had - and have - an idea for an arcade bar as well.  This wouldn't be a restaurant, but a two level pub, basically.  The downstairs would be for drinking and chilling, maybe watching sports or getting your groove on on the dance floor on the off nights we get a DJ for the younger crowd.  Upstairs would be a good sized bar, and filled with the kind of games found at Crab Towne.  

I know, good idea.

So when you get the chance, and if you happen to be in the Glen Burnie area, I suggest stopping by and playing you some games.  I do not suggest getting dinner.

Mar 27, 2008

Inanimate Rage and You.

Alright, the title may be misleading.  It's really about Inanimate Rage and Me, but it sounded more professional and official using the word You.  At least, in my mind, which is really all that matters.

I have an anger problem.  I do not start fights with humans.  I am not that confrontational, and refrain from physical scuffles whenever possible.  I tend to attempt a verbal diffusion in fight situations, and if that doesn't work I (a) curl up into a ball and whimper, or (b) allow one of my more physically inclined and close to insane friends to take on an aggressor in my stead.  It has worked so far, as I have not been in a fight, nor do I intend to get into one.

When it comes to inanimate objects, I do not have such reserve.  Inanimate objects produce obscene rage that I end up punching walls, breaking things, hitting counter tops, kicking couches, and cursing at items bereft of ears.

My phone's external screen does not work anymore, after my phone did not act as it was designed to act and I threw it into a wall.  My radio in my car has been slugged several times when refusing to play an overly damaged CD.  When I was a child, my Nintendo controllers rattled when shook, a direct result of my slamming them into the floor after losing a life.  The closet door in my old apartment was off it's hinges after getting lightly stuck and summarily wrenched from the frame when I became angry at it's refusal to open and wrenched it open.

These are only a few small examples of my problem.  I have slammed the keyboard at work once or twice when I did not succeed in passing the 24th level of Blocky 2.  Kicked coffee tables after stubbing my toe on the coffee table, causing my toe to hurt more from the kick, which made me kick the table again.  I have also punched it after getting stopped on 4th and 2 in Madden.

Now, Traffic is not exactly an inanimate object, but taken as a whole, Traffic is not alive.  The people who cause it are alive, but Traffic itself is not a living being.  It does, however, feel my wrath.  This wrath comes in the form of unspeakably vile descriptions of premeditated homicide and insults centering on Traffic's mom.

I find many people idiotic and dumb.  There are thousands upon millions of people out there who, in some random working of the universe, were not given the gift of common sense and decent judgement.  These people would be jettisoned into space if I had the power to enact such jettisoning.  This would be done without remorse.  This is not how I am made, though.  I don't think about punching someone's face in, or kicking someone's ass.  What I do think about is how much the door is now hurt after I punched it in it's peephole.

The release felt after striking an object that has refused to do the job it was specifically made for is much like the first bite of warm pie, or the afterglow of coitus.  I like to think that the breaking of the scratched CD is directly experienced by the manufacturer of said CD, the record company executive of the band's company, and the band themselves.

I think perhaps this type of release is what keeps me from attempting bodily harm on others of my species, and helps to keep me from buying multiple firing arms and going on a Dumb Person shooting spree.  My fear of anal rape would be what makes me use paint pellets instead of bullets.

This act of aggression towards refrigerators and dryers appalls Nichole, and she frequently yells at me when witnessing such displays.  Probably because I tend to knock frames off of the walls when I punch them.  That is not a boast of my strength, but rather a critique on my carpentry.

I can't help it, though.  I get so freaking mad I lash out without thinking about it.  Still, I have never and will never do so to people, no matter how I have been pushed.

So to try and start a fight with me is futile.  I am generally a calm and rational person, and can use those traits to avoid bodily harm.  If you do choose to try it, though, watch yourself.  I am liable to kick your car and throw your keys into a wall.

It's just how I roll.

Mar 8, 2008

The Road To Betrothal and Beyond.

I am engaged to be married.

Now, before you ladies get all depressed and furrow-browed, allow me to add that before I became engaged you didn't have a chance anyway, and, truth be told, I am probably too good for you. So there's that.

Yes, after almost exactly two and a half years of dating (and living together for the heavy majority of that), Nichole and myself will be tying the knot. Then, after we finish with our shoes, we'll get hitched. Then, after finishing with the horse and carriage, we'll get married. Tentatively in May of 2009, but I am getting ahead of myself.

I decided to do this for two reasons. The first and foremost, I felt it was time. She, being a member of the female species, has been ready for awhile now, but I was not. Not for lack of love or enthusiasm for the idea, I just did not feel the time was right. It is now.

Or was now? Is now was? None of that sounds right.

The other reason was where we are in our relationship and in life. We have put in for a loan to buy a house. Her daughter has been referring to me as 'Stepdad' for several months, without prompting of any sort from either Nichole or I. This was something she cooked up and stuck with by herself. The opportunity just presented itself very well and the timing seemed to fit.

Plus, she told me I had to or she would go "All Lorena Bobbit on your ass, bitch."*

I must confess to not understanding that statement fully, but the look in her eyes mad me think it had something to do with severing my penis with a sharp object so I went ring shopping.

I had already decided early on that this would be a secret. Her family is made up almost entirely of women, with a few men scattered in to propagate the species. This lends to news traveling fast amongst households. For this reason, the majority of her family were to be kept in the dark until plans were finalized.

This theory was applied to her friends as well. Now, I do think her friends would have kept things quiet, but when drinks are involved, people tend to get free with their words and I wanted no hints whatsoever. Sometimes people trying to act innocent shine like a guilty shining beacon, so I made the choice to say nothing. Most of my family were unaware as well, and before the actual day I was proposing only three of my friends knew.

I have heard rumblings about my decision to keep things quiet since, and to those rumblings I say Too Bad. I did this the way I wanted to, and no one else had a choice in the matter. Just wanted to get that out there.

I enlisted the aid of one of Nichole's friends who has been her confidant in all things wedding. This was the girl she did the most marriage talking with, as this is also one of the only married friends. I, on the other hand, have none. So it was Mrs. H that I brought into the fold. I almost didn't, though, as it was the same Mrs. H who got a little tipsy at a bar and told Nichole we had talked about proposal plans. You know what I'm talking about, Mrs. H, don't you play coy.

Forgive and forget is what I never say, but in this case an exception could be made. Besides, she promised over text message to keep it silent, even from her other friends, and we all know that what is said in text is legally binding. When it was time to buy the ring, Mrs. H and my Mother were both with me.

I had shopped around a smidge with my Mom about a week beforehand, and had settled on the diamond I was purchasing, if not the setting. I did choose one, tentatively, but was having doubts. Luckily, with a suggestion from Mrs. H and some agreement from my Mom, the ring was picked. Once I'm able to get a decent picture of it, I'll add it to this post and erase this sentence.

The reason I did no more shopping was twofold. One, the diamond was awesome and affordable. Two, I had decided on the date, and it really could wait no longer.

The day I chose was February 29th. This, too, was a twofold decision. And upon saying that, I am not altogether sure I am using it correctly. Be that as it may, the meaning stands. First, she was fully expecting me to propose at a concert we were going to attend (and have since attended) on March 7th. Aside from that, she thought it might come on April 13, because the April month is number 4 - her birthday - and the day is number 13 - my birthday. Wow, right?

Second, I just thought it was cool. This is a day that only comes around every four years, much like Haley's Comet - with a 74 year or so difference. Although, according to Mrs. H, girls are supposed to ask the guys during Leap Year. Or is that just that day? Not really sure. It doesn't matter anyway, because you really just don't care. Kudos to your honesty.

I had originally planned to tape a short on-camera piece and have it air during our sports talk show Washington Post Live. I put this idea to the Producer who was to bring it to our News Director. Now, as anyone in TV can tell you, when someone is going to tell you No, they don't just say No. Instead, the SOP for this denial is to simply not tell you anything at all, and avoid you completely until it is too late.

So I had to change my plans, as they told me No by not telling me No. Instead, I chose another video route. I filmed myself proposing and posted in on her MySpace page. Not until the day of, of course.

On that Friday, I called her Mom, and let Mrs. H know she could spread the word - with the rule that no one contacts her in regards to the engagement until after 6:30pm. I wanted to give myself a decent window of opportunity because Nichole is not good at timing. By this I mean when she says she will be home in 15 minutes, it means she has yet to leave work and might be stopping somewhere first. It's a quirk I've become used to and can now plan around.

So when she got home, she went for the computer quicker than I had expected because she had something to show me. I was kind of caught with my pants down, which normally would be a good thing, but in this case was unfortunate. Reason being, I had yet to hit "Post Comment" so the video was just kind of sitting there. Luckily, she wasn't suspicious, she just thought I had done something dumb and was posting this dumb thing I did onto her page in order to spread my dumbness thing throughout the land.

Her quickness on the draw, however, did not give me time to set up the camera on the computer, which I had intended to use to catch her reaction to the actual proposal in a full-frontal angle. I did have a camera set up behind us to catch my Giving Of The Ring.

She sat down, posted the comment, and went to view it. What it began with was myself sitting there, explaining how I had just figured out how to upload videos and put them on the web. This is something that is very easy to do, but it worked as an excuse in this instance. I then went on to ask her how her day was, what she wanted to do that night, and what she wanted to do that weekend. Finally, I asked what she was doing the rest of her life and proposed.

I won't tell you what her immediate response was, but she can leave a comment here and tell you if she would like.

In the end, it was Yes.

I had arranged for all of her friends to be at a local bar that night to celebrate, so we headed that way after a brief champagne toast with some of our family.

All in all, it was successful. The ring looks great, and I sized it correctly. Now comes the wedding talk, but we have a little over a year before we plan on walking down the aisle, so hopefully we can space it out some to make it a little more stress free for both of us.

The only small thing I'm worried about is how she will feel about my already being married in 4 different countries. I mean, what happens outside the US stays outside the US, right?

*Editor's Note: This was a falsified statement used only for dramatic effect. The actual quote is much to coarse for reproduction.

Weight Loss Update.

I do not recall the last time I spoke of this, and to be quite frank with you, it may not have been on this blog.  Might have been the ol' MySpace page that I'm 30 and shouldn't have.

Well, I am down 32 pounds total so far.  Actually, that's probably at 30 or so now, as I gained a couple the other week.  Still, though, pretty good.  I still have a long way to go, but we're getting there.

This is with not being able to work out for a month, too.  Over the course of 4 weeks I was 1) sick, 102 fever; 2) Participated in the Polar Bear Plunge, which I intend to write about soon; 3) sick again, 102 fever again; 4) minor back surgery.  It was a fun run!

The back surgery was nothing bad, really.  I had two sebaceous cysts on the upper middle left-ish part of my back and had to have them drained and fixed and sewn up.  I would go into the whole draining thing and what came out, but I want to spare you in case you are reading this blog over supper as many, many people do.

Are you enjoying your goopy cottage cheese?

Right, so as a result of having two rows of stitches in my back, I wasn't able to hit the gym for two weeks.  Although during my fever weekends, I lost a total of 8 pounds.  Doing so by sweating, shivering, and not eating is not the ideal course.

I am just now getting back into the exercise routine, and am hoping being off of it for this long will shock my body into some more quicker weight loss.  Nothing drastic, just to help me crack that 200 lb mark.  I am currently chilling at 208 lbs, with a starting weight of 242 back in October.  I figure, in 4 more months I should be right around where I want to be.

When the time comes, you will know.  I will have been found dead of Massive Acute Pastryitis, lying in my dirty underwear surrounded by 14 boxes of Entenmenn's Raspberry Danish Twist.


God I love that stuff.

Why Do They Do The Things They Do?

A few days ago, I went to Safeway for dinner as I did not bring any with me to work.  Man's gotta eat.  Even a dieting man.

The Safeway near my work seems to be a vortex.  Now, there are several definitions of a vortex, but dictionary.com has two I would like to share:

5.something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it: the vortex of war.
6.(in Cartesian philosophy) a rapid rotatory movement of cosmic matter about a center, regarded as accounting for the origin or phenomena of bodies or systems of bodies in space.

In the case of this Safeway, it is a vortex of Odd.  My first instinct is to apply it to the word Stupidity, but that would just be rude to my fellow shoppers.  The better word is Odd.

So there I was, in line with my goods, in the process of mulling over which rag mag I was not intending to buy, when a lady got in line behind me.  She had a total of 3 items, although I cannot recall exactly what the said items were.  This being a 15 Items Or Less line, this was in no way unusual.  What was unusual, in my eyes and in the eyes of anyone with eyes to view the unusual, was that she had a cart.  A shopping cart.  A whole shopping cart.  For 3 items.

"Wait!" you shout accusingly, glaring at me with lover's eyes, "Maybe those items were heavy!  Charcoal is heavy!  Maybe she didn't want to carry the charcoal!  For God's sake man, the charcoal!!!!"

The simple reply is to point out that although I do not remember the specific items being purchased, I do recall that each one was small and could be carried by hand.  At the most, a small shopping basket.  The convoluted reply would involve cursing, berating, and an eventual trip to the nut house for all the charcoal talk.  So, I go with the simple.

She was pushing around a cart with 3 items.  This woman was not handicapped.  She was not limping, wheezing, gasping, or having a hard time pushing the cart.  It would have made perfect sense to pick up a small green Safeway basket and carry her items around.  It would have made even more sense to just carry them by hand, because they were easily small enough and light enough to do just that.  It did not make any sense to push around a large cart with three tiny pieces of grocery.

This is one example of the vortex at work.  It pulls the Odd like moths to a moth orgy.  Like inbreds to their moms.  Other examples I have spoke of before.  There was the guy who bought 15 yogurts and nothing else.  That was Odd.  The other day, they were letting the down-syndrome having youth learn stuff on the register while customers were starting to back up.  That was Odd.  Hey, the guy is free to learn stuff, but pick your battles.  There was the old lady a long time ago that freaked out when her groceries began to move along the black moving along thing we call put our stuff onto every time we check out of any grocery store.  Seriously.  She yelled at the cashier, blaming him for it.  Amazing.

Now that I have my little notebook, which you'll of course recall me mentioning in a previous post, namely this one, I'm looking forward to my next visit.  I might just forget to bring my dinner on Sunday.

See?  It draws me in, too.

The Return and Maturing, for better or for worse.

First, an explanation and apology.  An apology to myself, more than anyone else.  I apologize for taking so long to come back.  I have not posted a post since December of last year, after keeping an erratic yet normal writing schedule.  I did not write all the time, but neither did I let it get to be so long before reigniting the flame of passion I carry within myself for unimportant and derivative opinions vomited onto the internet.

I don't know why I let it get to be so.  I have said before that I am lazy, and that definitely has something to do with it, but I cannot cast all the blame on such a personality trait.  I think I was also blocked, like I would not let myself get back to one of the things I enjoy so well; the crafting of sentences, the turn of a phrase, the attempting to use large words to add ambiguity and uncertainty to my scripture, the subtle Use Of Capitalization to further my already obvious and uplifting point of view, the unadulterated wit that flows forth from my psyche only to cause undermining jealousy to those that view such art.

No, it really was just being damn lazy.  I'm kind of worthless in that way.

So I have decided to return.  I bought a small notebook to jot things down in when I come across them, such things that would lend to excellent blog fodder.  Things that are meaningless in the bigger picture of life but touch me in a way that makes me want to scream, "What the hell is happening to the human species?!?" and "Who do I have to hump to get some agreement that Darth Vader is the awesomest villain ever created, including the Devil himself?!?"

I am also trying this new font size.  I usually go with "Small," but I've ventured into "Normal" territory, as I feel perhaps my previous font size was a bit smaller than the normal person would prefer to gaze upon.  Upon incorporating this new text size into my post, my mind at first recoiled, reminding me that it was not in my nature to care what font size the normal person would prefer to gaze upon, and moreover, screw them.

However, as I referred to in my post title, I am maturing.  Growing wiser.  Bolder.  Better.  Better than ever.  Better than Ezra.  I am getting more grey hairs, and have reached the point in my life where I do not look like an 18 year old anymore.  I could easily be pushing 22.  It's annoying, that.  But one good look into my eyes lets you see the years behind them, the experiences, mistakes, triumphs, and masturbatory fantasies.  

So here we begin anew.  New font.  New topics.   New adventures, and misadventures!

Speaking of maturing, I got engaged last week.  More on that later.

Dec 27, 2007

Time Flies When You're Knee Deep In Nog.

I love the Christmas season.

It is easily my favorite time of year.  There are things to be said about summer and spring and fall and all, but when it comes down to it, gimme some winter action anytime.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy some warm weather.  It is definitely nice to head on outside for a pick-up basketball game in some shorts and a t-shirt, rocking those new sneaks you just bought and need to break in.  Well, I'm told it's nice.  I haven't played a pick-up basketball game since birth, and I'm not really sure how one goes about picking one up anyway.  It was kind of supposed to be a metaphor.  Or something.

Here's another that I relate to better:  It's definitely nice to head on over to the pool when it's bright and sunny and hot out, head right on up to the water, turn around, and let yourself fall back into the water.  Now there's something I can deal with.  While I'm swimming around, I like to catch me a quick pick-up water polo game.

In the spring, I can enjoy the warming weather, blooming foliage, and everything that comes with nature's awakening from a deep winter's sleep.  In the fall, I can relish in the cooling weather, bountiful colors, and everything that comes with nature's death for a few months.

But winter... winter it where it's at.  First of all, winter is the time when football is getting even better.  Playoffs are coming, teams are in win-or-go-home situations, and sometimes your team isn't 4-11.  Secondly, the weather is nice a cold.  Perfect to strap on a sweatshirt, throw a jacket over that, rock out the knit cap, and hit the town.  Third?  Snow.  Now, it only snowed once so far, but I'm expecting some more to come.  Probably in March.

And lastly, the main reason I like winter the best?  Christmas.  I think I started to say that earlier.  These things tend to get away from me.  It is one day a year, and I look forward to it the whole time leading up to it.  Sure, it will stress me out in terms of money, and it will stress others out even more which will lead to them stressing others out, which will lead to a general disgust with all others hidden under the guise of Christmas Cheer.

"Cheer up, it's almost Christmas!" people will exclaim with much exclaim.  "Die!" you will wish to heartily retort.

But it's true.  It is almost Christmas.  Actually, it was three days ago, but I'm trying to convey a mood here, people.  For me, I think it stems from enjoying the gift-giving, plus it's the one time a year I see all of my family.  Well, most.  My Dad's side has a lot of people scattered around Maryland, from Baltimore to Towson to Columbia to Gaithersburg to Virginia (which is not in Maryland but shut your whore mouth) to Elkridge to Somewhere Else.  Once a year they all converge on my parents house in Columbia to share in good-hearted ribbing and not-good-for-your-hearted food.

There are, of course, the Secret Santa gifts to give out.  Also, it's a chance to see the kids I never get to see.  I have at least 7 kids to see, with new ones popping up at random intervals.  Seriously, sometimes I think we just let them in as they walk by.  Watching them open presents kind of brings you back to when you were young and all that mattered was getting those ready-to-rip packages in your hands and hoping they are not all filled with clothes because what kind of heartless hum-bug bastard only gets a kid clothes when what they really want is a brand-new just-released 1985 GI Joe jail set.

Rest in peace, Aunt Sue.

Anyways.  I know some people who aren't really fond of this season, obviously.  There are people out there who just don't care that much, and that's fine.  I'm not just talking about Jewish people, now.  I think a lot of Jewish people love Christmas.  The restaurants and movie theaters are barren.  I can understand why some may not enjoy the season.  Maybe it's the crowds, the falling-slowly-into-madness mentality of the Christmas mob, the drunken Santa's leering at your child in his lap, the Little Person attacking your child for repeatedly referring to him as an "Angry Elf."  Some just were not cut out for the season.

I am not one of these people.  In fact, if I saw one of these people, I would probably say something along the lines of, "Hey!  Cheer up!  It's almost Christmas!"   knowing full well I am subjecting myself to possible bodily harm and/or slow, painful death.  I can't help it.  My parents were and are very big with Christmas - the family side of it, not so much the church going, god fearing side - so it rubbed off onto me.  I'm a pretty good gifter, and my stocking stuffing skills are matched only by my father, and that man had many years to perfect it before I started to myself.  I mean, the guy wraps each individual thing in my Mom's stocking.  Seriously, I'm talking Chapstick.  Chapstick gets wrapped.  Awesome.

My only gripe?  It's too short.  In that way, I kind of envy the Hanukkah crowd.  They get 8 days.  We get one.  Albeit, ours is shoved viciously into the face of Joe Consumer before Halloween has passed.  So it's almost like Christmas gets two whole months.  I don't look at that side, myself.  I don't let myself think of it until Thanksgiving is over.  To me, Christmas is kind of one and a half days.  Christmas Eve, where you finish (or in my case, start) wrapping all your gifts, then light a fire, turn on the tree lights, and watch a couple Christmas movies before bed.

It's exhausting, all told.  But still too short.  It doesn't help when you have to go to work the next day, either.  I'm thinking next year I'm going to attempt to take off at least the day before and after Christmas.  This way, I can soak it in a little more before I have to go into my 364 day mental slumber until the next year.

Until then, "Cheer up!  It's almost Christmas if you really suspend disbelief and refuse to acknowledge a calendar!"

Nov 25, 2007

The Perils Of Drinking.

I just returned from Ocean City, MD today after a 3 day excursion with my girlfriend, her cousin, and her cousin's fiance. Nichole and I go to OCMD at least once during the off-season, as it is an excellent place to relax without dealing with any and all of the normal crowds that tend to swarm the peninsula come summer.

When we go, we stay at a place called The Haven Hotel, located on 1st street. A nice little hotel, very good off-season prices. Also, there's a jacuzzi in the room. Not in the bathroom, but in the room. It's awesome. We bring bubble bath.

So a few blocks down from the Haven is the world famous Purple Moose Saloon. By world famous, I of course mean not world famous, but some people know of it. I have developed good feelings towards the Moose, as it has served me well in the Drunk Department the last two times we have enjoyed the off-season.

The previous visit resulted in a $90 bar tab between myself and Nichole. At some point during the night, she had the idea to start doing shots, which probably contributed to the rest of the night. We began at 6pm, and around 10pm or so, a wedding party came in. I don't remember much of this, but apparently I was very congratulatory to the point of annoyance. We left the bar and stumbled to 7-11, where I almost knocked over an entire chip display in my rush to acquire another six pack, something I desperately needed.

I was successful. We ventured out onto the beach to sit under the stars, listen to the waves, and drink a beer or two. You know, real romantical type stuff. This didn't work out quite the way I had planned. After a few deep coughs, I turned my head to lean off of the blanket and promptly blew chunks all over the beach. Slight redemption came my way when I buried it with sand to keep it from the sight of my girlfriend. My girlfriend who seemed to be suddenly overcome with laughter for no reason whatsoever. We went in shortly after that, where I attempted to drink another beer. It's just so good when it hits your lips!

That was then. This is now. We headed over to the Moose after deciding not to head over to the bus stop and take a trip uptown. Why travel when you can drink at home? Or near it, anyways. So we ventured. It was barely crowded, maybe a good pack of 13 or so people, including us four. We got some beers, played some pool, did some shots. Eventually, the room began to spin on its own accord, much to my chagrin. Our tab reached the $100+ mark, which was a signal to us that it was time to leave. I do not recall much of what happened afterwards. I know we went out on the beach for a bit. The parts I do not remember are going to the same 7-11 as last time, where I was making loud jokes about Magnum condoms. On the walk back to the apartment, I tried to climb into and onto a construction site - unbeknownst to Sober Matt.

So, what have we learned so far? That I cannot handle my liquor? Correct. I cannot, nor have I been able to for a long time. I don't really like liquor, not a fan of doing shots, and rarely ever drink anything foo-foo-ish. I normally drink beer and beer only. The Moose just seems to get me. Thinking of my recent partial black-out and past inebriation adventure, it reminds me of the worst experience with The Drink I have ever had. I call it The Blackout. It is the reason I will not and cannot stomach Jagermeister. It is one reason I do not like doing shots anymore. It is one reason I have decided to believe in a Higher Power of some sort, even though I will never be a regular church goer or anything.





The Blackout

It was on the occasion of my 22nd birthday. I was living in Ocean City with two friends of mine, Ian and Joe. That night, we met up at a local bar whose name escapes me now. Atlantic Something Or Other. This was our hangout that summer. We went other places, but this was our main spot. We got to know the bartender, got some deals here and there, you know how it goes when you're awesome.

So that day, August 13th, whatever year, we headed on over to the bar. Joe met me out there from work, I had the day off to reflect on things that needed reflecting. That night, they had a special going on frozen Long Island Ice Teas. If you do not know what that is, go here. Then go order one.

As many of you know, it seems to take a long time to get drunk when drinking frozen drinks. It feels like you could drink 10 of them and barely feel buzzed. The truth is, that's a lie. I think it just takes longer to hit you. So while you pile them on, they are slowly gathering forces to attack.

So we were piling them on. On top of that, we thought it would be just the coolest to do shots of Jager too. I mean, it was my birthday and all, why not do it up? Thing become more hazy as the evening progresses, and the last thing I remember is a short sequence of events: Joe and I ordering two frozen Long Islands, and two more shots of Jager. The bartender brought us the shots, then made our drinks. He gave us the drinks, and we immediately ordered two more shots of Jager. Seriously, I remember nothing after.

That night, I had a dream. One of those dreams that just seem so realistic it feels like your actually there. It was early morning, and I was in water. I didn't necessarily want to be in the water, but there I was. There was a pier of some sort there, with ropes hanging off and stuff. I was trying to pull myself out but it wasn't working very well. Very frustrating. I wasn't scared, it was more of an annoyance than anything. Then, I woke up.

I woke up in my bed, with nothing on but the ol' skivvies. I had some little cuts all over my hands and forearms, and my left foot's big toe hurt like hell. So did my head. I looked closer at my foot and there was some green stuff under the toenail, packed in there like packed things get packed into packable things. I got out of bed, limping on my green toe, and looked around for my clothes. I found my pants in the living room, soaking wet. My shirt was on the bathroom floor, soaking wet. The only shoe I could find was soaking wet. I could not find the button down shirt I was wearing the night before, but I assume it was soaking wet, and might still be.

I was pretty confused, but upon inspection of my toe again, it hit me. I was slow that morning. The green stuff in my toenail looked like the kind of gooey, wet moss that grows on the submerged wood of a pier. Which meant my shoe had come off in some water, and my toenail became flush with green stuff as I was using my feet to attempt to get out of the water. It had not been a dream.

I had, somehow, fallen or jumped into the bay. I lost my shoe, my shirt, but nothing else. More exploring of the house.

Drying puke on the toilet and a little on the floor. I could only assume that was me. I cleaned up a bit, tried to get some of the toenail moss out of my foot, and brushed my teeth. Downed a few aspirin, then wrote a note.

My note went something like this:

Hey Joe, I blacked out and fell in the bay. What the hell happened last night?

I left the note in a noticeable position and went back to sleep, hoping to not dream of anything wet. Yes, not even that.

I woke up later when Joe stumbled in and went to sleep on the bottom bunk. Yes, we were a couple of 22 year old guys in bunk beds. Not our idea, it was only a one-bedroom place with three dudes. Before passing out, Joe had replied to my note:

I don't know, I blacked out too.

Not his exact response, but close enough.

Between the two of us, our roommate, a dude we knew, and a couple girls we knew we were able to piece together some of what happened the night before.

Joe remembered paying our tab and leaving the bar. From there, we headed over to a late night taco joint called Matteo's. It's not there anymore, but when it was... it was good. While we were there we ran into a guy we knew, who I apparently repeatedly high-fived.


From there, things get speculative. At some point in the night, it rained pretty hard. Somehow, Joe and me became separated. He stopped by an apartment rented by some girls we knew and fell into a bush. I fell into the bay. To this day, I do not know how I got out of the water. If there is some random fisherman who helped me out that morning, I thank you kindly.

According to Ian, my other roommate who left earlier than Joe and I and therefore did not almost die, around 9am Joe and I walked (trundled) through the door, holding each other up. We were somewhat incomprehensible. I basically stripped down to the drawers, threw up in and on the bathroom, and passed out. Joe grabbed his toothpaste, toothbrush, and a pack of crackers and headed to work after getting a phone call saying he was supposed to be there. I feel bad for the man. He spent the day puking in the work bathroom.

Around 3pm that day, I attempted to eat. I was successful. There was a little gyro stand near our apartment that was great for Next Day meals. I lost my shoe, shirt, and a silver figaro bracelet that night. My money was gone, but everything else in my wallet was whole. I had my car keys, which was a nice thing to see.

Finally, there is a nice scar on the inside of my left wrist to remind me that Jager = Bad.

So that was The Blackout. Kind of scary when you think about it. I mean, there is about a 6 hour gap where time seems missing. I don't know what happened, and neither does Joe. Did I spend 5 of those hours in the bay? Besides a few scratches and a green toe, I was no worse for wear. Didn't get sick or anything. Did I pass out somewhere for awhile? How did Joe and I reunite and make our way back to the room?

I have tried not to get out of hand like that since, and for the most part, I have succeeded. The other night was the first time since that I have actually lost a portion of the night before. I had others to babysit me, so maybe that was a bit of a catalyst. I knew I didn't have to drive anywhere, so that helped, too.

Either way, drinking is perilous. I think that was the point of this whole thing. Also, don't drink near a bay.

Not too much, at least.

Nov 7, 2007

A Case Study: Blue Thunder vs. Airwolf

Back in the 80's, the years 1983 and 1984 to be specific, the youth of America was treated to the emergence of a new, cool vehicle not given it's due in years before. We were exposed to the coolness of the helicopter. We had seen planes, trains, and automobiles, but before this time the helicopter was more of an after-thought. The grown-ups of this time knew of them, sure, but only in a traffic-copter or rescue-copter capacity. We of the younger generation, though, knew more about fire engines and jet planes. We were content with that.

Then, along came the helicopter. Not just the Red Cross Rescue Helicopter, I'm talking helicopters with weapons. In 1983, a movie was released by the name of Blue Thunder. This was about a high-tech military helicopter piloted by one Roy Scheider, he of Jaws fame. He plays a LAPD helicopter pilot who is selected to pilot this new, super advanced badass helicopter called Blue Thunder. There is an evil plot, plenty of helicopter action, and in the end, they destroy the helicopter.

Sorry for the spoiler, but it was made in 1983 and if you haven't seen it already, you aren't going to see it just because I'm currently over-thinking it's significance.

One of the things I had forgotten about the TV series spin-off was it's awesome cast. A few of the cast highlights? Dana Carvey, Bubba Smith, and Dick Butkus. Yes, that's correct. He had been in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for four years before this TV series even showed up on the boob tube.

Day in and day out they used Blue Thunder to thwart a wide assortment of threats. It was a dusty blue, and had all sorts of guns and missiles and things poking out of it, really a military look to the whole thing.

No doubt somewhat inspired by the attention given to the film Blue Thunder, but also supposedly coming from an idea found within an episode of Magnum P.I. (same producer), the TV series Airwolf made it's debut in the year 1984. This helicopter was different, though.

Still military in origin, this was a stream-lined, sleek looking helicopter that kicked as much ass as Blue Thunder without looking like it was hastily thrown together. Airwolf is explained as a "supersonic" helicopter, and had an impressive array of weaponry that would be released from hidden panels. Things slide out of the way, something shoots out, then things slide back into place.

The lead character's name was Stringfellow Hawke. I put that in bold type because his name was Stringfellow Hawke. I haven't met many Stringfellows, but I want to very badly. He was played by Jan-Michael Vincent, who you have seen before in some other movie he did where he was in it and you saw him there. Along for the ride was his friend, mentor, and all around great guy, Ernest Borgnine. His name is in bold because he is Ernest Borgnine.

This show started out with cloak and dagger type of plots, with spy organizations and covert activities. It devolved, some would say, into more of a straight action kind of show with more pedestrian overtones. Of course, in each episode, Airwolf was needed to set things right, the setting of which typically happened in the air, and many times against other helicopters. Apparently, helicopters are the choice of vehicle for most mid-air fights. Top Gun was way off.

Some would say Airwolf loses points for their stingy use of the helicopter itself. Airwolf was covert, as I may have mentioned earlier, so it wasn't like they could just hop the the ol' 'Wolf and get them some McDonald's. There was no kitten-in-tree usage of Airwolf, it was strictly Go Get 'Em situations. So we saw the helicopter in the beginning, sometimes a little in the middle, and in the Final Battle. Otherwise, it was kept in the defunct volcano that served as Airwolf HQ.

Blue Thunder was somewhat different, as it was not a secret helicopter. So these guys could ride around in it, maybe get some chinese food and catch a Drive-In. Not that Dana would let that kind of thing happen, I'm just saying, you know, they could.

The Blue Thunder TV series totalled a total of 11 episodes total. Plus the movie. Airwolf ran from 1984-1987, completing three seasons and a fake fourth one. I say fake because it featured an all-new all-different cast and became worse production-wise. It's like when Bo and Luke were replaced by Coy and Vance. We just like to pretend the Duke boys didn't exist for that short time. Blue Thunder was cancelled because the network executives were not willing to try and compete with the Airwolf series, which sported a superior opening theme. So in that respect, Airwolf wins.

Where Airwolf loses is in use of the helicopter itself. There was not enough In General use, in my opinion, and most of the show was spent waiting for them to suit up and load them guns. Point: Blue Thunder.

Airwolf, though, just looked so much cooler. It was like the KITT of the sky, without the talking, jumping sounds, or Hasselhoff. It was sleek, had this black and white scheme going, and the coolest thing - in my 7 year old opinion - was the lack of skids (you know, they ski looking metal landing gear), and the use of wheels. Such a simple thing, but it made Airwolf look that much cooler, flying around with the landing gear tucked away made it look even sleeker, and it was already really sleek, so this was just extra sleekness.

This is what ultimately gives Airwolf the crown, in my opinion. It looks cooler, the pilot looks grimmer, and they have a Volcano Base. The theme song rocks in that catchy synthesizer way, and when it hits near the end of the episode you know the Bad Helicopter is going to take a dirt nap. I had both toys, but Airwolf got the most play.

So, in conclusion to this amazingly uplifting and informative thesis, I must listen to the 7-10 year old inside me and announce Airwolf as the winner in this, the first of several Case Studies I intend to enthrall you with.

Congratulations Airwolf. Go Get 'Em.

Oct 31, 2007

Life Never Ceases To Amaze.

On July 17, 2007, I posted a blog with an opening line about a commercial I saw the night before. Instead of writing about that commercial, I put up a bunch of pictures of He-Man figures I used to own. I'm not sure why I did this, but I did. So there you go.

I have decided it is now time to talk about the commercial. I said in that blog, the commercial made me think, People will buy anything. I was correct in this assumption.

The commercial's intensity follows in the footsteps of Girls Gone Wild and available DVD's such as those. It does not, however, match the content. Instead, this DVD series is about....



....





....wait for it....





....Trains.



It was a commercial for a DVD series called Lots & Lots of Trains. The announcer comes in with something asking if you love trains and here comes Lots & Lots of Trains. Along with this scintillating talk comes an MTV-style montage of train footage. Big trains, small trains, fast trains, slow trains, red fish, blue fish, one fish, fish trains.

It captivated me like how captivating things captivate other people. I was in awe. Not of the trains, mind you, but because someone had made and was selling DVD's featuring many different kinds of trains riding along their tracks. Now, I have seen a lot of porn. I mean, a lot. I have never seen a train fetish, though, so I can only assume these videos were not made for train enthusiasts to masturbate to.

Which means, they are serious. This is not a joke. I thought maybe, Hmm... someone must be messing with people's minds here. Maybe, just maybe, the Powers That Be decided they would mess with those of us watching A&E at 3am. At least, I hoped that was the case. But alas, it is not a joke.

Not only is Lots & Lots of Trains an actual DVD, but there is a Volume 2. If you loved Lots & Lots of Trains, you'll vomit for Lots & Lots of Trains: Volume 2!!! And if you vomited for Lots & Lots of Trains: Volume 2, you'll anally bleed for when we come out with Lots & Lots of Trains: Volume 3 for some reason!!!!

I just don't get it, as I don't get many other things. How did they sell enough of Volume One to make Volume Two a necessity? On Amazon.com, they have Katey Sagal and James Garner listed as 'Actors.' How the hell did they get Peggy Bundy, much less James Garner??

This rant doesn't exactly have much of a point, obviously, aside from putting a voice to my bewilderment. It amazes me that things like this exist, and moreover that people buy this stuff. Now, to be fair, the two reviews I read explained how much the reviewers' kids liked Lots & Lots of Trains. In that respect, I can understand why the video exists. Even so, enough parents bought this for their kids to warrant a Volume Two? Really?

Shouldn't there be a lot more train engineers? I have never met someone whose occupation dealt with the driving of trains.

If I did, though, I would buy them this movie. I'm thinking of buying it anyway, just to say I have it.

I can't wait for Lots & Lots of Mopeds.