11/9/13

Would you like garden fresh, non-gmo Pomme Frites sautéed in fair-trade olive oil with that?


I guess I don't really enjoy the leisure time activity of "going out to dinner."  I know, that's weird, and most people love to linger over a great meal, especially if it's with great company.  I'm down with the company part, and I love my friends, but I can't sit still for that long. There's just something I dislike  about being elbow to elbow with a bunch of other diners, pretending to not listen to their conversations while they pretend to not listen to mine.  Especially while my ass is slowly going numb from the uncomfortable chair I'm sitting in.  I hate the waiting, most of all.  Waiting for the waitress to bring the drinks. Waiting for her to bring the food, waiting for her to bring the check.  It's pretty sad, but most of the restaurants I eat in make you pay for meal before you eat, and I realize that says more about me than anything else.

Anyway, that said, I always have a little bit of trepidation when we're invited out to dinner, especially if it's to a really nice place.  I guess I don't get enough value out of an expensive meal to avoid thinking about all of the other things I could do with the money, like buying something I actually need and won't be shitting out in 24 hours.  Honestly, I'm just a hick with a college degree.  I have one suit for wedding and funerals,  I don't like classical music or opera, and I think art that doesn't look like something is a ridiculous concept.  All this to say that eating is generally something I do so I don't fall down and die, and that's about it.

Everything I've written so far is really just to lay the groundwork for what's to follow.  Not too long ago, we met our friends in NYC, and we all decided to have dinner at this particular restaurant they wanted to try.  We said yes not because we love trying new restaurants, but because we love these guys and we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. If they had asked us to go eat corn dogs out of a dumpster with them, we probably would have said yes.  There is one little detail that makes picking a place to eat more interesting, however.  They're vegetarians.  We're not.  And since it was their pick, it was kind of a given that we were going to be dining at a vegetarian restaurant.

I am fine with that.  I have nothing against vegetables, in fact some of my best friends are vegetables.  I eat very little red meat as it is, so the fact that we most definitely were not headed for a steak house didn't break my heart.  I applaud them for their choice, and I'm sure they'll both outlive me, but I could never do it.  I eat quite a bit of poultry and a lot of egg whites, so going hardcore no-milk, no-meat, no-cheese would be difficult for me.   I wasn't worried, though, and I was sure I could find something on the menu that I could eat, and probably even enjoy.

We met up in the city and walked around for a bit and when it got close to dinner time, we headed  toward the restaurant.  As we were walking, M told us about it.  "It's Korean vegetarian, and it's supposed to be great," she said. "All organic and very healthy."  I am a fan of stir fry,  I thought.  See what a rube I am?  I think all Koreans eat nothing but stir fry.

When we were about a half a block away from the place, she said, "Oh, by the way, this is a shoes-off restaurant."  Ha-ha, I thought, that's a good one. A shoes-off restaurant. I seriously thought she was joking, because never once in my entire life have I taken my shoes off in a restaurant. Not even that one time I stepped in dog shit in the parking lot of Applebee's.

She was not joking.  We walked into the restaurant, and the entire left wall behind the register consisted of nothing but cubbyholes filled with shoes. I'm pretty sure this place used to be a bowling alley.  We all sat down on the edge of the single stair leading up into the dining area and took off our shoes.  I have to say, there's nothing like walking around in NYC all day and then sitting down and taking off your shoes in an enclosed area with a hundred other people.  I was a little self-conscious to say the least.  But then I realized that the whole place smelled like garlic anyway, so what the hell. Off came the shoes.  I started to take my socks off too, but then realized nobody else was, so I pulled them back up.  Close one.  When I was younger, I took karate lessons for a year or two in a dojo that backed up against a pizza place. It smelled kind of like that, but with less B.O.

The place itself was so dark I had to wonder what they were trying to hide.  It turns out it's all just part of their plan to give you a "total dining experience that brings harmony to the body and mind."  Besides the candles at every table, there wasn't much else in the way of light.  A few dim overheads and that's about it.  I bet they save a fortune on their electric bill.  I glanced into the dining room and saw that the tables were about twelve inches off the ground and everyone was sitting on the floor on little mats.  Great, I thought.  My ass, legs and my back will be aching by the end of this meal.  But then I reconsidered because really, most of my meals are eaten sitting on the floor with my food on the coffee table while watching reruns of Seinfeld anyway, so how bad could it be?

Our hostess brought us back to our table and that's when I got my first surprise.  The people actually weren't sitting on the floor in some Baddha Konasana Yoga pose for three hours while they ate.  Instead, the tables were put in square holes in the floor, and you sat on the edge of the hole with your legs dangling under the table.  So there's another thing I've never done -- sat in a hole to eat.  Of course, all I could think about was how difficult it would be to clean those Korean sittin' holes, and so I avoided moving my feet too much because I didn't want to inadvertently step in any old dropped food. It turns out that was the least of my worries.

When the waitress showed up and took our drink order, most everyone ordered Sake, but I had a little too much fun the night before so I was not in the mood for hot rice wine. Instead, I ordered an iced tea. The waitress brought out the sake and my iced tea, and put them down in front of us.  Then she took my iced tea, which was in a perfectly serviceable drinking glass, dumped it into a bowl, and then put it in front of me.  I looked at it in confusion, wondering if I was supposed to just go full German Shepherd on it, or wait for a straw or a spoon or something.  I don't know the Korean way.  She just smiled, bowed slightly and walked away.  Finally, I awkwardly picked up the bowl in both hands and took a tentative sip, trying not to spill it into my sittin' hole.  I must have looked as ridiculous as I felt because my wife just shook her head and tried not to laugh.

We perused the menu and I found something with the exotic and fairly non-specific name of "vegetable and mushroom wrap" that didn't sound too bad.  When the waitress returned, everyone placed their orders for appetizers and main course.  I order the Vegetarian Dumpling soup as my appetizer.  We hadn't even been sitting for 20 minutes and my back was already killing me, mostly because I'm afflicted with drummer posture, and sitting on the edge of this hole with no back support was just like sitting on a drum stool, so I fell into it naturally.  The bad posture, not the hole.  It took a while for our food to arrive, presumably because the chef was outside somewhere hunting all the wild vegetables required, so we had plenty of time to chat and catch up.  Luckily the people sitting back-to-back with us were speaking what I think was probably Korean, so I didn't find myself inadvertently listening to their conversation, which was most likely about the idiot white boy behind them drinking his iced tea from a bowl.

It turns out that Vegetable Dumpling soup was just that.  Dumpling, singular.  It was very tasty, but in my opinion, the only time a single swallow of anything is worth ten bucks is when it's been aged in a oak cask for 20 years.

When the food arrived, everyone got their meal immediately except for me.  And that's not to say mine didn't come out with the rest; it did.  But mine apparently had to be built on-site.  With chopsticks. The waitress had a bunch of piles of random stuff spread out and proceeded to make my vegetable and mushroom wraps right there on the tray she had carried the food out on.  Everyone else waited politely for her to finish, but after the first minute or so I told them not to wait any longer because it looked like maybe the construction wasn't going as planned and it was time to call the building inspector and shut the whole project down.  They were having none of it though, so they waited.  Finally, she managed to build all three wraps and get them more or less together and serve them to me.  I thanked her politely, and everyone started eating.

Except for me, that is.  I had wraps.  I had chopsticks.  i was confused and unsure.  Was I supposed to use the chopsticks or just pick the things up with my fingers?   Luckily they were fairly small wraps and I'm pretty good with the nunchuks, so that deadly talent transferred well to the chopsticks, which also sound deadly but really aren't.  CHOP! STICK! HYAH!  Right?  No? It's just me?  OK.  Anyway,  I stabbed one of the wraps with a chopstick to hold it still while I sort of lifted it up and bent my head forward and took an experimental bite.  It was really good, in an uncooked spring roll kind of way.  The wrap was a little doughy by design, being steamed and all, but the dipping sauce was amazing.  Each one was about the size of a White Castle slider, and because I eat like a pig without taking a breath, my main course was gone in about four minutes.  If I hadn't decided to dick around with the chopsticks instead of using my hands, it would have been under two.  I was done, and everyone else was still plugging along.  My wife hadn't even started eating her meal yet because it was so hot.  Whatever concoction she had ordered was sitting in front of her in what appeared to be an actual dog bowl.  It had a wooden base with a hole in the top, and resting in the hole was a sizzling stone bowl full of rice n' things.  I could feel the heat coming off of it in waves.  I still don't know if she was supposed to eat it or if maybe I was supposed to roast my doughy wrap over it like it was a campfire.  

After a little while, my second bowl of iced tea started working on my bladder, so I decided to hit the bathroom.  It was then that I realized I was about to walk into a NYC bathroom -- in my socks. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't picture a urinal, guys drunk on sake, and socks mixing in any way that could possibly be good.  Would I be walking in piss puddles while my 100% cotton, highly absorbent gym socks (I am nothing if not fashionable) worked as designed?  I thought I might be.

But no, this restaurant had thought of everything.  The bathroom was a single room with a toilet and a sink, and is another thing I hate about restaurants in NYC.  Aren't there regulations that require a certain number of shitters based upon total occupancy?  I'm just saying that serving spicy, high-fiber food to 100 people and having only one toilet seems like it would be a recipe for disaster.  I've been in that situation and it's not fun. There's nothing quite like frantically banging on the bathroom door while you're clenching your sphincter to keep the turtle from poking out.  Conversely, sitting on the only pot while someone bangs on the door and screams at you to hurry up is also a ton of laughs.  Neither of these would probably count as an experience that "brings harmony to the body and mind."

To avoid having people walk into a piss puddle with their socks on, they provided a pair of communal slippers outside the door.  So what you had to do was put on a pair of slippers that roughly ten thousand people before you had slipped their disgusting feet into, and then go into the bathroom, where you can stand in front of a urinal and splatter piss on them.  When I got to the door, I could see that the slippers were missing, so that meant the room was occupied.  I waited for a few minutes, and finally a guy shuffled out of the bathroom and kicked off the slippers.  You know that uneasy feeling when you sit on a public toilet seat and realize that it's still warm?  Kinda gross, right? Well, it's even worse when you have to put your feet into warm slippers before that happens.  I slid my feet into the slippers and could instantly feel the Korean foot fungus migrating through my socks and attacking the flesh between my toes like it was the Han river offensive.  Luckily, I was able to get rid of my iced tea before any door banging began.  I did, however, have to pass off the slippers to another poor bastard when I came out of the bathroom. I wished him good luck and headed back to the sittin' hole.

I got back just in time for dessert.  We were all pretty full, so we had ordered the little sampler platter.  I'm not sure what I ate, but it was pretty good for gluten-free, dairy-free, free-range something-or-other.  After we were finished and took care of the check, we hit the road toward Franklin Lakes, and I counted my blessings.

All in all, it was an interesting experience for this country hick, but I was very glad to put my hiking boots back on.

Next time, I'm just eating corn dogs out of the dumpster.  

11/5/13

Kindle Countdown special!

I'm trying a little something new that Kindle is offering called the Kindle Countdown Special.  For the next four days, my book is only 99 cents.  So far it's doing pretty well -- up to #30 in the Humor/Essays category.

I know most of you probably already have it, but I figured I'd just put up a short post about it anyway, just in case you know someone who might enjoy it.   I'm not on call this week, so I should have a new post up by the weekend.

Thanks for reading!  And happy belated Halloween.  (I'm the one on the left.)


10/22/13

Country Mice.

It was supposed to be easy.  We were supposed to jump on a train in Albany, and 2.5 hours later, if all went well, we'd have popped out in Penn Station in NYC and our friend Doug would have driven up to the entrance, we'd have opened the car door, tossed in our bags and escaped to Brooklyn for the weekend. Then on Sunday night, he'd have dropped us off at the train station and in a few hours we'd have been back home.  I love simple plans.

Then my wife decided it would be fun if we met a completely different set of friends in NYC Sunday night for dinner and then caught a ride back to their place in Jersey and hung out with them all day on Monday.  This complicated things, and now our simple plan involved a three hour drive,  bumming a ride to the train station, a 45 minute train ride to another train station,  and a transfer to a metro train that eventually got us to Penn station after stopping every 15 feet along the way.  I know that sounds ridiculously simple to most of you, but I'm just a hick from upstate NY, and I don't understand your complicated mass transit ways.  I'm about a four hour drive from the Manhattan, and that's about as close as I  like to get.

Overall, it went well.  We made it to Franklin Lakes in record time, parked our car in my buddy Pete's parent's driveway and his mom drove us to the train station.  My wife sat in the front and I sat in the back and that was a mistake. That's because my wife likes to talk.  And Pete's mom likes to talk.  And unfortunately they're both Italian -- which means they can only talk by looking directly at each other and gesturing wildly with both hands to properly punctuate each point they are making.  After the first few miles I just ducked my head down and closed my eyes and decided that if it was my time, it was my time.  If I ended up hanging upside down by my seatbelt inside of a crushed SUV listening to Barry Manilow songs while my lifeblood ran into the storm drain, then so be it.   Finally, with a little more grey in my hair and a little more pee in my undies, we arrived safely at the train station.

We jumped out of the car, grabbed our bags, thanked Pete's mom and watched her drive away.  It was then that we noticed the complete and utter lack of activity.  After tugging on a few doors that were quite obviously locked, we realized the train station was closed.  No ticket window, no bathroom, no advice.

This resulted in my wife and I asking each other a lot of questions that neither of us had answers to.  Do we just buy tickets on the train? Which train do we get on? Is there a schedule? Is that a bus map or a train map?  Are we supposed to be on the other side of the tracks with those other people?  Why the hell did I wear my coat? Where can I pee?  I'm sweating my balls off.  OK, that last bit wasn't a question and to clarify, it was me, not her, but I did feel pretty ridiculous since it had been close to 40 degrees when I left my house and right then it was probably 80 in the shade and I was wearing a coat.  Finally, right before I resorted to walking up to some stranger and admitting my complete ignorance, I saw the ticket machine.  Like most kiosks these days, it was a touch screen, and over the course of its life, it had been soundly touched - maybe even bad-touched.  The fingerprints on the screen were so thick I could have scraped them off with a putty knife.  I poked and prodded the disgusting screen, fed it my credit card and out popped two one-way tickets to THE CITY. My THE CITY.  (You have to say that in a big, booming voice like The Tick for it to properly convey my elation at finally finding the giant blue ticket machine that had been hiding in plain sight.)

I made a mental note reminding myself not to touch my eye with that fouled finger, then I climbed back onto the platform to wait with my wife.  She was sitting a bench away from a younger woman wearing leggings as pants and holding a phablet to one side of her head, one earbud dangling and the other still jacked in.  By the way, please send her your prayers because her dad was in the hospital after having his gall bladder out, and for some reason he gained over eight pounds inside of a week and so they had to bring him back in and that's when they found out that his stomach cavity was filled with blood and it had been pooling in there for some time.  They aren't sure, but they thought maybe the sutures were leaking and since he's a hemophiliac, it just kept bleeding.  He's not in the greatest shape to begin with because of the diabetes, but they're hoping that after this he will be good to go.  She wasn't feeling too good about the trip because she had cramps due to it being her time of the month, and she really had to pee but the station was closed.  She said she was waiting for the train to The City so I figured we were on the right track.  Pun intended. The things you learn sitting ten feet from complete strangers who are on the phone and don't realize how loud they're talking.

Eventually, a train came and the mechanical voice on the PA said something about Hoboken, which we figured was probably in the right direction at least. Plus, our girl stood up, so we knew we were golden.  We hopped on, and 45 minutes later we were in someplace called Sacaucus Junction.  I know that sounds like a dusty, one horse town out of a bad western where you should be able to belly up to the bar in the local saloon and order a shot of rot gut in a dirty glass, but it's nothing like that.  We ended up running through the station because our train was late getting in and we had about three minutes to catch the connecting train, but we made it. Barely.  The train whooshed in, the doors opened, we jumped on and literally took one step inside and could go no farther.  It was standing room only, and calling it that is being generous.  I was leaning against a wall of dangerous looking red and green buttons, and my wife was half hanging out the door when it hissed shut an inch behind her and the train started moving.  I grabbed a pole, making sure I did so with my touchscreen-poking hand, and we picked up speed.

It was then that I noticed him.*  The medieval warrior wearing the tunic, jerkin, gauntlets and cloak. You know, that guy you always see on the train, standing next to you holding a battle shield made out of tinfoil, old mountain dew cans and masking tape covered with spray paint.  He looked about 20 or 25, give or take, and stood maybe five-foot five.  He had nerd glasses, a hipster haircut, a wispy beard, and seemed to be working on developing a decidedly un-warrior-like set of moobs.  But hey, at least his outfit made me feel better about my stupid coat.  The connecting door between the cars was stuck open because of the crowd, and it was sort of nauseating to watch the other people across the gap move up and down and sideways like they were in the world's most indecisive elevator.  The micro-warrior kept saying things like "It's a portal to another dimension! Arm yourselves! You know not what may appear!"  but the only thing I saw over there were a lot of alien beings who looked very similar to us who seemed to be peering into our dimension and wondering if we had any more like him on our side.  All I was trying to do was not puke because I figured the denizens of the alternate dimension would frown upon that sort of behavior and that would be the start of the invasion. That's all I need to do on my long weekend.  Start an inter-dimensional war.

I could tell by the smell that we were getting close.  Not me and the micro-warrior, since we were already pretty close -- I'm talking about me and The City.  There was a damp, garbage-y smell that I remembered from previous trips and had tried hard to forget. But it sticks with you. It smells like someone took a bucket of dumpster juice and doused it in diesel fuel and then lit it.  That's the smell.  The one that you know gets ten times worse when it rains out.

Finally, the train hissed and lurched and trundled to a complete stop, and the doors opened.  We again burst forth in a throng of disgusting humanity and descended upon Penn Station like famished locusts.  Doug had said to meet him on the corner of 33rd street and 7th avenue, so we found the right set of stairs and ascended into the madness.  We weren't sure which way the avenues went, so we just picked a direction and started walking, figuring we had a 50/50 shot of it being the right one. We lucked out, and had guessed correctly. On three separate occasions while we were walking, people asked me for directions. I don't know on what planet I might look like someone who might know where the fuck I was going, but there you go.  I just shrugged and said, "I'm really sorry, but I don't even know where I am right now." So apparently there were people more lost than I was, and I take comfort in that.

Luckily it was a warm day because the wind was howling between the buildings and we would have frozen our asses off if it had been 20 degrees colder.  I texted Doug and told him we were walking the streets trying to get where we needed to be.  He called me back and said something like, "The Brooklyn bridge is closed and I just got out of the Battery Tunnel and I'm on the corner of 9th street and 2nd Ave, and I can probably take a right on 5th and then drive down blah blah blah-"

I didn't have the heart to tell him that he was basically talking to a dog, and I was just nodding and smiling like a mental patient and waiting for him to finish talking.

"Where are you?" he asked.  I looked around.

"Standing on some random corner like a two-dollar whore," I said.  "33rd and 7th, it looks like.  Across from Macy's."

"OK, I'll be there in about 20 minutes.  I'm a little over three miles away."

There is just something really wrong about that sentence.   We backed up against the corner building and waited.

You see a lot of people when you're standing on a corner in NYC.  The worst part is, they see you too.  It wasn't too bad at first.  Hot women seemed to be pretty abundant.  On the other hand, I also got to see Black Wonder Woman.  She had boobs like basketballs and an ass that looked like a garbage bag full of doorknobs, but she was rocking that Wonder Woman costume like she was late for the Justice League orgy at the Fortress of Solitude.

The first person to notice us was a tiny Asian woman in robes handing out little gold cards with some strange, mysterious symbols on them.  She was saying something (in Cantonese or Japanese or Andorian, I'm not really sure) and gesturing for me to take one of these golden cards from her. I took it from her with the thumb and index finger of my ruined hand, but then she opened some book that looked like it had numbers in it. I saw one that said 30 and another that said 60 and I wasn't sure if she was selling these things or if she just wanted my signature.  I gave it back to her and said, "No thank you" in my most apologetic voice and she smiled and nodded and then walked away, pausing briefly to adjust her crotch while holding the stack of golden tickets in her mouth.  I moved my ruined hand farther away from my body.

I turned around from that disgusting sight to find myself facing a tall black man who looked to be about 60.  He had deep set eyes and he was standing directly in front of me, holding a small piece of cardboard that said "Homeless Vet" and nothing else.  He didn't say anything to me at all -- no "Can you spare some change?" no "Can you help a brother out?" no nothing.  He just kept staring at me from under the brim of his baseball hat like he was hungry and I was a 10-piece order of chicken Mcnuggets.  Finally, I think due to my utter confusion as to what I was supposed to do or say, he gave up on me and moved on down the street. I never know what to do in those situations.

A few seconds later, an angry, (and perhaps slightly mentally unstable) black man of indeterminate age came barreling down the sidewalk swinging a hard-shell overnight bag by its metal handle and screaming nonsensical sentences.  I know what to do in that situation, which is to try not to be noticed and try not to get hit in the head with a suitcase.  I managed both of those things, but not before hearing some rant about the shadow aliens who were working at the KFC. Or maybe it was with the KFC. Or the DMV. I couldn't really make it out.  Either way, they were bad, and he was going to kick their asses.

My phone rang again, and it was Doug, telling me that he was still ten minutes out because  he couldn't make a left because of an open manhole cover or some shit, so it would be better if we walked back to the Penn Station entrance, and he would circle around again and come down 8th and grab us from there.  So we hoofed it back, which was fine by me. I felt like I was less of a weirdo magnet while I was moving.

A few minutes later, as we watched some guy sugar his nuts -- no really, he had cashews and peanuts and almonds in his cart and he was melting sugar all over them and they smelled wonderful -- Doug pulled up in his Buick with the ISLEOFQ license plates (he was/is the guitarist in that band) and we jumped into the relative sanity of his car and got the hell out of dodge.

The difference between Brooklyn and that part of NYC is striking.  We came out of the Battery Tunnel and it was like we had gone back in time.  The area of Brooklyn where he lives is very retro.  Tons of brownstones and cool little corner stores and restaurants. It has a really neat vibe. It reminded me of Philly or maybe Boston.  I could almost live there for a while, I think, if you held a gun to my head or paid me  a shitload of money. Maybe both.  I mean, where else can you get authentic Asian breakfast crepes and buy a classic Schwinn bike off the street for cash money all within a couple of blocks?

Those of you who read my book know that when I was a kid, I coveted my neighbor's 1969 Schwinn Orange Krate bike, and I still think it's one of the coolest bikes ever made.  They are very rare collector's items, and right now, they go for about 2-3 thousand dollars on e-Bay.  So it was pretty amazing to just be walking down the street on my way to get coffee and be able to do this:


I asked the guy how much it was and he said "one or two thousand" which seemed like quite a spread.  I think what he meant to say was, "How much do you have?"  I was a little sad that he knew what it was worth, but it was all original, right down to the flat racing slick rear tire and a banana seat with zero road rash and a matching serial number. Maybe someday I'll win the lottery and own one and you all can come over and we can take turns riding it at top speed down the hallways of my yacht.

We had a great time in Brooklyn, and Doug and his lovely wife treated us like royalty.  We drank champagne and martinis and laughed so much my sides hurt the next day.  On Sunday we slept in a bit, and then walked to the Asian crepes place and got some coffee and, of course, Asian crepes, which, having never been to France, suited me just fine.  We basically just hung out being bums until about 3pm, whereupon we piled into the Buick and headed back to The City.  They couldn't join us for dinner, which made me sad in retrospect because I think we would have had quite a few laughs, mostly because of where we ended up going, which was unlike any restaurant I've ever eaten in before.



*I'm usually an observant person, so I am surprised I didn't see him right away -- maybe because it was one of those rare instances of someone actually being shorter than I am, or maybe it was because I still had no idea if I was on my way to The City or whether we'd end up at a freight depot in Newark.
WebRep
currentVote
noRating
noWeight

10/2/13

Maine-lining the month.

Ah, September.  It's the month I use up all of my vacation.  Sadly, it's over, and I only got a few trips in.  I'm hoping for a warm October so we can do a little more backpacking.  It's hunting season though, so you gotta be careful walking in the woods.  On the other hand, you could make a game of it and wear a brown suede jacket and a pair of white gloves.

To start the month off right, the weekend after labor day we headed up to Maine with our friends Vidna and Pootie.  Unfortunately, unlike our last two visits, we didn't have a full moon.  Vidna was on hardcore drugs for a series of vicious insect bites, so the girls had to take up most of the slack in the drinking department.  The one good thing about lack of a full moon meant we could get some good shots of the Milky Way like this one by Pootie.

As always, Jesus was our co-pilot.

You may remember Action Jesus, who accompanied us on our last trip to Maine. He recites the Lord's prayer (in its entirety) when you push a button just above his ass-crack.  He sounds a little like the guy who does all the movie trailer voice-overs. In a world... where pharaohs rule the day…and nobody has underwear...

Come get some.
He rides with us on the dashboard, and guards us against shitty weather, idiot drivers, and bad seafood.  This year, JC couldn't wait to hit the beach:

Take this Lobster and eat of it, Brah.
He didn't disappoint.  We had great weather during the day, and we only got a bit of rain the night before we were leaving, so I count it in the win department.   There's a very slim chance I'll burn in Hell for dressing up Jesus for the beach, but my guess is that if JC came back now,  he'd be shopping at Abercrombie and wouldn't be caught resurrected walking around commando in some rough-woven robe.  

We didn't swim because the water was ridiculously cold, but we took a walk on the beach one of the days, and spent most of our time walking Marginal Way.  It's a beautiful walk with stunning natural seascapes and it's custom-made for photographs, except for one thing.  And as always, that one thing is the same thing it always is:  Idiots.  And I'm talking about a special kind of idiot.  The kind that needs to reaffirm his or her existence by tagging a building with spray paint, or carving their names into a picnic table or a desk or a tree.  The ones that need to shout to the universe "I WAS HERE!" even though the universe and the rest of us wish you weren't.  Check this out:





What you are looking at is hundreds and hundreds of stones stacked on top of one another.  Why? Because one idiot made the first stack and a thousand other idiots followed like lemmings.  It might as well be graffiti.  It ruins the natural landscape and it annoys the ever-living fuck out of me.  Can you tell?  

When I climbed down next to them to take the pictures, I 'accidentally' knocked a few of them over on my climb back up.  Vidna is more direct.  He just walked up next to some guy who was building one and kicked over the one right next to him.  It totally reminded me of this:



Anyway, I have no idea why humans have to do stuff like that.  Why can't we just leave shit alone?  It doesn't make sense to me.  

I did take a few pictures, but when you're out with an actual photographer and his wife, and your camera is a piece of outdated junk, you don't take too many shots.  I thought these clouds were cool:


 The obligatory sailboat shot:


On the drive up, Vidna lets me pick the music, since I'm always riding shotgun.  I decided that the theme of the drive would be 80's music, so I "obtained" some Time-Life 80's collections and after about twenty minutes of listening to it, we realized that either 80's top-40 music was way crappier than it seemed at the time, or we were weren't listening to what was on the radio.  There were a few gems that I liked back in the day, like Scritti-Politti's Perfect Way, or Tommy Tutone's 867-5309, and of course a Rick Springfield tune or two, but a fair amount of the songs were flat-out horrible.  

For every "One Thing Leads to Another" or "I don't like Mondays" there was a "Mickey" or a "Voices Carry."  The musical landscape was all over the place, so a compilation album that spans a whole decade was probably not the best choice for the drive. We had SuperFreak and the Safety Dance on the same Album and I think that must break some kind of natural law.  At least it was before auto-tune, so if you sucked, everyone knew it. It was still possible for a horrible band to have a hit though*,  so I guess it wasn't any different than today.

We had a good time, like we always do.  We ate at a steakhouse called (coincidentally, I think) The Steakhouse, and it was pretty good.  I had a hunk of filet mignon the size of a baby's head that was a little too rare for me, along with a giant salad and a baked potato and sour cream.  They had a full menu, but hey, you know, it was a steakhouse so I didn't want to go with the fish.  Not the best piece of raw beef I've ever had, but not bad.  After dinner I was so full I thought I was going to spend the rest of the night sweating meat.

The month flew by after that, mostly because it seemed like everything conspired against us getting out in the woods or on a lake.  A death in the family, the most disgusting plumbing job I've ever had the opportunity to perform, (a post that is coming very soon, once I take a break from obsessively showering to rid myself of the memory)  and some crappy weather prevented us from enjoying the month like we usually do.  We did manage to get out last weekend for a couple of days.  Here's a few pictures for your enjoyment.  I finally remembered to throw my tripod in the canoe.

Sunset. Duh.

Venus on the horizon


I'd live here if I could


We're just a speck on a speck on a spiral arm...

      This is my first full week back to work in about 30 days, and it's kicking my ass.  I've never wanted a weekend more in my life.  But by that time, I should have the disgusting plumbing story ready to tell. I don't want to remember it, let alone re-live it, but I will.  For all of you.  Because I care.

*Missing Persons, I'm talking to you. Terry Bozzio, your reputation will never recover.  I don't care if the singer was your wife at the time.  Sometimes, you gotta put your foot down.)


8/9/13

Google is your friend this week.


It turns out that less blog traffic means that my search engine hits have gotten interesting again.  I checked them for the first time in a long while, and I decided that they were too good not to share with you.  As always, I am continually amazed by the things people type into Google, especially given all the recent NSA hubbub.  That's why I always use duck duck go, no matter what I happen to be searching for.  Unless it's disturbing pictures for you guys. Then I use Google, so I might be going away for a while.

These people below, however, have no qualms about typing whatever comes into their pretty little heads. And for that, I thank them.  So once again, back in the U.S. after a very successful tour of Japan, I'm proud to bring you the musical stylings of:

Fantastic Google Searches that Somehow Led People to my Site

How hotel keep lizard away? - HULK HAVE QUESTIONS. HULK NO WANT LIZARD RUIN HULK VACATION!  HULK LIKE ROOM SERVICE AND FLUFFY ROBE, TOO!   Well, as a puny human, I can answer this because it's an easy one.  While we all know Marriott can't afford to have your friendly neighborhood Spiderman on staff, and since there's only one of him anyway,  they operate on the same principle as Santa and his "helpers."  So in your particular case, Mr. The Hulk, this guy is outside standing guard.  Luckily, The Lizard is kind of nearsighted.   So there's your answer.  Also, don't believe them when they tell you that movie title won't show up on your bill.

wedgie theory of interrogation - Based upon my success using this method on Houdini when we were kids, I can say with complete authority that it will definitely work if your goal is to get someone to tell you where they hid your transistor radio.

what do fancy bathroom have in it? -  Oh, you poor, poor bastard.  I pity you and your common nether-regions.  If I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that since the moment you were first potty trained, you've been forced to perform the act of waste elimination using a regular bathroom?  I'm really sorry.  It goes against my nature to rub something like this in, but let me tell you what you've been missing.  When you have the Electro-Sluice 7000BM installed like I do, your toilet will anticipate your every wish. You simply drop your pants to your ankles and the padded stimu-seat will silently rise up behind you and (using IR sensors) measure the temperature of your ass and automatically adjust itself to 10 degrees above your body temperature in the winter, and 2 degrees below your body temperature in the summer.  All programmable, of course. Then it will ease you back gently until you are at a comfortable pre-set angle that promotes relaxation, as the ambient sounds of Brian Eno's Music for Airports (or other music of your choice) is piped into the bathroom in DTS 7.1 surround sound.  Then the lights dim, the gentle and nearly silent fan will start up, circulating the scent of fresh, night-blooming jasmine - not too much - and at that point you are free to begin the elimination process.  A patented vacuum system handles both liquid and solid waste at the same time, so you can really just let it all go without any concerns at all.  With the Electro-Sluice 7000BM, your only responsibility is to relax your sphincter as both your worries and your waste float away like gossamer silk on a warm bay breeze.  And that's not all.  After you're done, the Electro-Sluice 7000BM will lovingly clean your private parts with 37 discrete fine mist rosewater jets, and pat you dry with freshly warmed cashmere towels from 4 different auto-adjustable angles.  So that's what fancy bathroom have in it.  And no, you can't try mine.  Just go take a dump in your shitty American Standard white ceramic bowl with the rest of the unwashed masses.

can you drink on lunch while working at Lowes? - Based on my experiences in that store, I would say the answer is "Fuck, yes."

can I spend my vacation hanging out? -  Sure you can!  In fact,  I've done this, and it's very pleasant.  Just remember two very important things.  (1) zip up before you go out in public, and (2) sunscreen is very important.

if the vet expressed her anal sac, should she feel better instantly?  - This isn't common knowledge, so I'm impressed by your question.  Not many people know that most vets have anal sacs that need to be expressed regularly.  The answer to your question is yes, your vet will feel better almost immediately, but you don't want to be in the room when she's doing it.  It involves contortions and hand-held mirrors, and it's quite disturbing to watch.

brown cloth-like stuff coming out of your pee hole - This one just made me cross my legs instantly, however I'm all about helping people.  So:  If you have BURLAP COMING OUT OF YOUR PEE HOLE you need to immediately get the hell off the Internet and GO SEE A PEE HOLE DOCTOR ASAP!  Go. Now.  Before whatever garment is coming out of your peehole gets to the buttons or the zippers.

do men orgasm out of the same hole they pee out of - Our educational system at work, ladies and gentlemen.  

gay teens drenched in water from cows anus - This is a very specific search, and I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to help you with anything except perhaps the water. I have no access to gay teens, nor do I happen to have a cow's anus handy.  Although I'm sure that for a reasonable fee, I could -- no.  I've said too much.

how to make fast zombies climb - First of all, fast zombies are not your bitch.  You don't make them do anything.  From all available evidence, the overriding requirements necessary to persuade fast zombies to climb is for you to (1) have live brains,  and (2) be on something high. They will handle the climbing part all by themselves.

tiny ass tongs -- I'm sure I can help you, but first we have to clear up your lack of punctuation.  Are you looking for tiny-ass tongs, which can be used to grab all manner of tiny things, asses included, or are you looking for tiny ass-tongs, which serve the one particular purpose of grabbing a tiny ass and nothing else?  My opinion is to go with the first one, because they're much more versatile.  You don't see too many tiny asses these days, so at least if you have the first one, you can use it to pick the raisins out of your raisin bran or something if there are no tiny asses within reach.  On the other hand, if you get the tiny ass-tongs, they will spend the majority of their time stuffed in the back of the kitchen junk drawer, and even if you see a tiny ass you want to use them on, you'll never get to them in time. There's way too much shit in that drawer and you really should clean it out.

wording to get friend to go to lunch -- I've had much success with "Hey, do you feel like going to lunch?"  If you've been saying something like "Feel, Lunch do hey to like going?" then I suggest you try my wording instead because I think you'll have better luck.

do people like to be forced to wear a butt plug in public -- My guess would be no, and I'm thinking they probably don't like to be forced to wear a butt plug in private, either. And as an aside, what's up with all you butt-pluggers?  Can't you think of a better way to spend your free time?  Jesus.

how does a door knob work? - Damn dogs.  They're always on the Internet when nobody's home.  That's why I hate them.

i force my old granny to turn her butthole to me stories -- I'm not positive how to help you, but I will try.  I am pretty sure there are no such stories published, however, that being said, it's conceivable that there could be an untapped market for granny-turning butthole tales of some sort and you could be the first author to bring such tales to the masses.  Maybe even different genres.  Westerns, Sci-Fi, Tales of Mystery and Suspense, you name it.   Something like this, perhaps.

So this could be your big chance.  Hell, if that 50 shades of Grey piece of shit can make a trillion dollars, the world should be your oyster.  Pick up a pen and go for it.  Cut your granny in for a piece of the action though. It's only fair.

ah me big labia  -- I have to say, this one caught me entirely by surprise.  I had no idea the Lucky Charms leprechaun had a sex-change operation.  I wish him luck.  And Lucky, if you're reading this, good choice on the XL labia, by the way.  I'd lose the heels though -- at least until you learn to walk in them. You look ridiculous.

So that's it, all my best searches this week. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Also, on a completely unrelated topic, this little shit needs a good beat down.

8/1/13

Fly me to the moon.

The other day I woke up at my normal and customary and totally insane time of 4:15 to get ready for my lovely commute, and as I usually do, I sat down for a second and checked my e-mail.  I saw a new e-mail from a friend of mine and the subject was simply "Good Morning."   It was just a link, but it's one I think everyone needs to see because it's very important.

You can view it here.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

See, this is why I don't travel.  OK, I've been to Mexico and the Caribbean, and granted, they have bugs there that can kill you, (Chagas, anyone? No? Malaria? No? You're good? You sure?) but this is pure grossness.

First of all,  how fast can that thing crank out eggs?   It was in this woman's ear for a split second and it had time to sit around and lay eggs?  I guess it stands to reason since it's called the "New World Army Screw Worm Fly." Not only does that sound like something that could lay a dozen eggs in a half a second with crack precision, but it also sounds like something that should be carrying a teeny tiny M-16 and a wearing a beret as it flies into battle.


Another question:  Was she drunk off her ass the whole time?  How the hell do you not know that there's something eating the inside of your head the second it starts?

I can only assume that the maggots were all crapping their little maggoty hearts out in there too, which is even worse. First you get eaten, then you get crapped on, and in a cruel twist of fate, the crap is made of you.  It's the ultimate indignity.  I gotta say, if it had been me, the second those eggs hatched and I heard something that sounded like someone eating tiny Doritos inside my head, I'd have been at my fucking ear with a screwdriver and a blowtorch.  I've had a ladybug in my ear before and even that sounded as big as a John Deere tractor inside my head while it was crawling around looking for the way out. I practically ruptured my eardrum with a turkey baster trying to get it out.

And can you believe someone with a medical diploma on their wall said, "Before we do anything else, let's fill your ear with olive oil."  Yeah, that sounds like it'll work.  Why not throw in some croutons and a little vinegar and make a salad? Jesus. And what if it actually DID work? Then you've got an ear burrow full of dead maggots, which can only cause a major case of ear odor and attract more flies. Bad decisions all around.

(As an aside, I'd like to say that I've never had maggots in my ear, but I've had them in my Milky Way bar.  I discovered it after I had eaten one of those "fun size" bars and then found 2 maggots in the wrapper.  In retrospect I thought it had tasted a little funny, but I just figured it was old.)

We have deer flies up here, and the season lasts about a month.  When the humidity is high, you can't go outside without being instantly swarmed by these little bastards, and they bite like Mike Tyson. I was told once that this particular type of fly will actually lay eggs in a deer's nostrils and the maggots will hatch and eat the deer's brain, but I have no idea if that's true or not.*

But there is a solution, and I just found out about it recently.  I was walking down the street a while ago, swatting madly at the swarm of deer flies around my head when I walked past a neighbor's house and he saw me.  He came out and asked me if I ever heard of TredNots.  I said no, and he proceeded to give me a packet of them.  Basically, they are flytraps for your head.  You slap one on the back of your baseball cap, and in no time at all, you look like this:


Which is disgusting, but that's not even the half of it, because what you can't see in the picture is the incessant buzzing that a dozen flies can make when their legs are stuck and their wings aren't.  Eventually everything will simmer down and their wings will get stuck too, but until that happens you feel like you're infested.  (Also: Why the hell don't movie zombies ever have flies?  You'd think that would be a given.)  Anyway, when you're doing work around the house or the farm or whatever, these things are a lifesaver.  His wife (and mine) both hate them, but they get bit and we don't so we win.

I have a couple of tips for you though -- One, don't forget you're wearing it and then go to say, Home Depot and wonder why everyone is looking at you and gagging.  Two, don't sit down in a rocking chair to relax for a few minutes and put your hands behind your head.   You will regret both these things.

I know this for a fact.

* I tried looking it up but ended up at Yahoo Answers, which should really be called Yahoo Stupid Answers by Idiots because I've never seen a valid answer there, ever.  The best answer to "Can a fly lay eggs in your nose so that maggots eat your brain?" was "Flies lay eggs in poop, and even if it did, the babies could never crawl into your brain."  So that's good to know.  I would totally let flies into my nose without fear after reading that sage advice.

7/12/13

Laggera.

Well, the good news is, my short story is done.  The bad news is, I'm not sure if it's any good.  I sent it to a few people and I'm awaiting feedback at the moment, so we'll see how it goes.

So here's the story of Bob.  A few of weeks ago, my wife was up north at a place called Mirror Lake Inn with a couple of friends, enjoying a "Girl's Weekend" special they had going on.  I'm not sure what that entails, but I know they eat and drink a lot and do things like go to the spa and have someone rub their backs with hot oiled stones, put cucumber paste on their faces and stick slices of ripe zucchini up their asses or something.   I don't know what goes on there and I don't want to know.  Anyway, I was looking for a weekend activity of my own, and it just so happened that my friend Pete's band The Badlees was opening up for Bob Seger at the Mohegan Sun arena that very same weekend, a mere 3.5 hours from here.  I immediately called him, and said I was thinking of making the drive down.  He told me they only had a 35 minute opening slot, but since it was a five hour drive from home for most of them, the guys in the band were going to get rooms at the hotel and hang out rather than running off stage and jumping in their cars while the last note was still ringing in the air as they usually do.  So we called it a plan and it was good.

Or it was good until about 10 minutes later when he called me back and said that their manager gave back the rooms because he didn't think anyone was going to use them, and the rest of the band was just driving home immediately after the show.   I think he probably would have driven right home too, but since I had committed to driving down for the show,  it was either get a room somewhere or scrap the idea, because it probably didn't make good sense for me to drive seven hours to see 30 minutes of music.  It was a golden opportunity to hang and we didn't want to waste it, so we decided that we'd find a place to stay that wouldn't break the bank, then watch Bob's show, maybe hit a casino or something, have some drinks, then crash. The free rooms they gave back went for about $350 a night, and they were right in the hotel attached to the casino and arena.  The room I found was...not.

We figured our budget was about a hundred bucks if we split it and shared a room.  So off to Hotel.com I went.  I could find nothing that wasn't at least a 20 minute drive away from the casino. There's a lot of gamblers in Connecticut, I guess.  I finally made a reservation at a Red Roof Inn that didn't get bad reviews for a 2 star hotel, and then after I paid for it, I looked them up on the bedbug registry (yes, it's a thing) and they had 3 entries for bedbugs, and two for scabies.  I had to look up what that was.  Believe me, I've stayed in some shitty hotels over the years seeing his band, but even though in the past I've found dirty underwear behind the bathroom door and used condoms under the bed, I never got fucking scabies.*

So I immediately jumped back on hotel.com, canceled my reservation with a shudder, and got my money back.  Then I went to expedia.com to try my luck, and ended up with a hotel that got mostly horrible reviews because it was under construction while it was being renovated and turned from some no-name hotel into a Raddisson.  I took a shot, hoping that the construction was done and that "renovation" meant the rooms were new.

The next morning I fed the hotel address into the GPS and started driving.  My GPS is really old and really slow, (like me) so it gets confused if there's too much going on (like me).  I got somewhere near Hartford and it said (in its pleasant, female British voice): "In 200 yards, take the exit right." and then 201 yards later, as I watched the exit go by, it proceeded to make Maxx Headroom-style stuttering announcements as it recalculated four times in the space of 30 seconds.  When I finally got headed in the right direction again, I had added about 20 minutes to my ETA, which is the opposite of what a GPS is supposed to do for you.  I think it's time to retire that $59 piece of crap.  You'd think I would have shit-canned it after it was trying to get me to take a left through the guardrail on the Taconic Parkway at three in the morning, but no.

The hotel was actually pretty nice, but in the meantime it had inexplicably changed from a Raddisson to a Holiday Inn. I'm not sure what that was about, but all the construction was done.  The only thing even remotely construction related that I saw was someone pulling network wire in the bar area.  I checked in, did the standard bedbug check (yes, there is one, Google it), and then headed downstairs to get some lunch and wait for Pete to show up.

The bartender was a cute girl who moved with the speed of a garden slug, but I eventually got what I ordered. I think the issue was either that she was hoping I'd order more than one drink before I got my food, or she was just side-tracked by the giant TV showing the ESPN Strongest Man competition.  All these ripped dudes in perfect shape were lifting weights against a clock and against each other, and while she was watching it and drooling,  I was watching it and feeling really guilty about ordering hot wings and a Guinness.  I thought about asking if I could change my order to a salad and a bucket of whey protein, or at least change the station, but I didn't.

An hour later, Pete silently rolled up in his brand new Prius, (Rock and Roll! \m/) I jumped in, and we headed north to the casino.

When The Badlees first got signed to Polygram in the late 90's, they did an extensive tour with Bob Seger.  So I figured they were old pals.  Even back then, we joked about Bob Seger and the Silver Anniversary Band, and here it is some 17 years later and old Bob is still rockin'.  You have to hand it to the guy.

We arrived at the casino and drove around back, and the security guy in the guard house thought he was on a military installation because he had his list of IDs and pictures and he spent a few minutes comparing Pete's license to his list before he'd let us in.  Eventually, after a radio call to someone, he was satisfied that we weren't terrorists and he let us continue on.  We drove around underneath the casino for a bit, until we found the 18-wheelers that presumably carried all Bob's equipment. Let me tell you, Bob has a LOT of equipment.  It's all union labor once you're past the gate, so they didn't want you unloading anything yourself.  Pete backed his little Prius up to this massive loading dock door,  and like six guys unloaded his monitor unit and mic stand.  We got our laminates, then we parked his car and went to find the dressing room.  The place is basically a maze and there are dressing rooms all over the place, so they put orange tape on the floor and then write on it with a sharpie telling you what's where.  So we wandered around looking for the Badlees dressing room. We passed a wall of video recording equipment and I laughed when I saw the sign taped to the one of the video monitors.  It said:

Please BE QUIET. 
Bob is sleeping.


And yes, I laughed quietly.  You wouldn't like Bob when he's angry.  Plus his video guy looked like he just broke out of prison.

We kept walking and passed tape that said Catering, Video, Horn Section,  "Lovely Ladies," (at least the whole thing was in quotes, and not just the word "Lovely") and finally, way down at the end, The Badlees.

I've been in the "band room" at lots of hole-in-the-wall clubs, but I've rarely been backstage at an arena.   It was a little nicer than I expected, but also weird.  The dressing area consisted of two rooms -- in the first room was a bunch of cubby holes* and a closet area with some permanent hangers, a couch and a fridge, then there was a second room with a shower, a toilet and a urinal.  The "door" between the two consisted of a curtain like the one you'd normally see on a voting booth. "I'll give that an 8 on technical execution and a 7 on style.  Maybe tighten up the dismount." I'm really glad I didn't have to drop one before the show because it would have been like going to a house party and taking a crap with the door open.

We dropped off our stuff and then it was time for setup and sound check.  Sound checks are hard to do when Bob is Sleeping, but they managed.  I had an "All Access" laminate, so I got to wander around just about anywhere, and basically pretend I was a roadie. I got the "'sup" head nod down pat, and after a while the security guys didn't even look twice at me.

After the sound check, we headed over to catering and got some food.   While we were there, Bob came in and sat down at a table and I thought maybe I'd get to to meet him, but he seemed pretty focused and unapproachable.  Pete nudged me and said, "There's Bob." and that was about the extent of the meet n' greet, for me at least.

The Badlees set was great, and it was good to see them in front of that many people on an arena stage.  They have a new record due out soon, and from what I've heard, it should be pretty good.  If you're not familiar with them or their sound, here's some samples from the Seger shows.

Bob's show was better than I expected it to be.  He had a ton of people on stage from backup singers to a horn section to his sax player Alto Reed. Yes, I know.  I'm pretty sure that's not the name on his birth certificate.  That early afternoon nap he takes before the early-bird special must be in a slurry made from moisturizer and cocaine because holy shit, for a 68 year-old guy,  he never stopped running (against the wind).  Sorry, I couldn't resist.   But seriously, he's still the same. The guy is like a rock.  You can tell he's still got the fire inside.  Dear God, this could go on forever.  Seriously, when you think about the sheer number of hits this guy has had over the length of his career, it's pretty impressive.  I was never what I'd consider a fan, but I knew the words to every freaking song he sang.  I don't even know how that's possible. He totally owns all that old time rock and roll.  (I just stabbed myself in the eye with a fork, so you don't have to.)

The only time he sat down all night was for Turn the Page.  His voice still sounds pretty good.  He's lost a little off the top, but he's allowed.  He looked like a garden gnome who forgot his hat, but he can still make the women throw their control-top panties up on stage.

Pete and I got in trouble for standing back by the sound board because we were apparently blocking the view of some old biddy with floor seats, so we went up to the side where they had some reserved tickets for friends and family.  After the show it was a little surreal to be funneling out with the rest of the crowd and have people do a double-take because they suddenly recognized Pete.  You could tell they weren't paying much attention to the rest of the band though, because at least three people saw me walking with him and told me that I had done a great job.  I just thanked them and told them they were a great audience while Pete laughed at me.

After everyone left, Pete had to go somewhere to get paid, and I got to wait in the dressing room.  I waited and waited and waited….still no Pete.  It took him about 2 hours to finally get cashed out, and I spent the entire time shooting the shit with a 70-year-old security guard, and eyeing the untouched platter of cold cuts in the fridge.  He was a funny old guy though -- worked every concert for extra cash.  He spent a lot of time telling me how he didn't like "them Rush fellas" though.  They were too damn loud.

By the time we got back to the hotel bar and decided to have a drink, it was almost 3am.  W were both pretty comatose and he had to get up early and get home because his wife had to work and they have a 1-year-old now.  Man, times have changed. (Rock and Ro-zzzzzzzzz.)  We ordered up a couple of Grey Goose dirty martinis anyway, but the waitress said they didn't have olives.  Not that they were out of olives, but that they never had them, ever, at all.  Very odd.  They had all sorts of top-shelf liquor, but no olives.  We ordered them anyway, but as expected, they sucked.

That's pretty much it.  A good show, all in all, and really nothing went wrong so I count it in the win column.  The only issue I had was with the GPS again on the way home -- somehow it kept looping me around on Main Street and at one point I had to stop at a crossing and wait for the downtown train to go by.

(Sorry.)

p.s. - if you're wondering about the title of this post, it's what the guitar player's girlfriend thought Bob was singing in the chorus to "Like a Rock" when she was a kid.

*spell check wanted to change that to "chubby holes" and now I can't imagine the blog spam I'm going to get.
*that I know of.


6/16/13

Picture this.

I know, I know, I haven't been around in a while.  I've been doing a lot of not-writing, and what little writing I have been doing has been put to use on a short story that I'm about 3/4 finished with, inspired by a photo taken by my friend Vidna.  No excuse, I know.  But seriously, nothing funny has happened to me lately.  I know it's hard to believe, but it's true. I also think work might have permanently damaged my humor bone.  I wonder if I can get workman's comp for that?

Riddle me this:  What weighs 300 pounds and kicked ass back in the 80's?

No, not Meatloaf.  Well, OK. Besides Meatloaf. Because nobody can deny that Mr. Loaf kicked some serious ass in his time.

Give up?  It's my ex-TV.

For the last 19 years, the television in my bedroom has been an early 80's 25" RCA made of 100% actual imitation wood. (Not to be confused with the completely inferior imitation imitation wood.)  In other words, this is actual veneer, not stick-on vinyl wood grain.  The remote is the size of a hardcover book and could be used to knock someone unconscious, which really doesn't matter much because it shit the bed a long time ago.  Probably after knocking someone unconscious. Here it is, in all its mulleted 1980's glory:



The weird thing is, I don't know what to do with this blocky monstrosity.  I feel kinda bad just throwing it out, because number one, the garbage men will probably shoot their spleens out of their ears getting this advanced piece of 1980's technology into the back of their truck, and number two, it still works fine, and that's pretty impressive for a television that's probably 30 years old.  I don't know much, but I will bet you a month of paychecks that the shiny new Sony Bravia I just replaced it with will be sitting in a landfill sometime between now and the year 2020.    

Unfortunately for this TV, it's not old enough to be vintage or kitschy -- it's what most people would probably consider butt-ugly.  The picture is still really good, but it's 4:3 and not even close to HD.  I probably couldn't give it away.  As for the audio -- it's got some new-fangled thing called 'stereo sound' or something, and it sounds really good because it has real 5"x8" speakers on each side of the cabinet.  These speakers, combined with the giant wooden case that holds the tube, will put the built-in sound of any flat screen TV on the market today to shame.

So I moved it from where it was sitting (on top of two stacked footlockers) off to the side about 3 feet onto the window seat.  That was about my limit.  Neither one of us could remember what was inside the footlockers, because the TV had been there so long.  I figured it was probably all leg warmers and Member's Only jackets, but it turned out to be bedspreads.

It doesn't have the charm of my 1949 Motorola and I don't think it ever will, no matter how old it gets:


 (That's a cool TV right there.  The night I finished restoring it, my wife and I watched Casablanca on it.  You'd be amazed at the amount of low tech crap you need to use to get a new DVD player hooked up to one of these.)  

I just recently read that some people like old tube TV's for playing vintage video games.  If you are one of these people, have I got a deal for you.  I'll even throw in a 26" Sony flat screen that weighs even more than this one for free.  All you have to do is pick them up.  And not leave any spleens laying around that I'm going to have to clean up later.

I'm going to try an experiment, and just write a few short blog entries, just to get back into it a little. So I'll apologize up front because they're not going to be funny.  And speaking of not funny, my friend Pootie has entered one of her pictures in a contest.  Check it out if you get a chance.  The site is a little annoying, but give her a vote if you can.

Also, here's something my buddy Trav wrote about me over on his blog.  I'm honored, even if he is a little nuts to think I'm inspiring.

Next up, I drive to a casino and see Bob Seger.  Yeah.  Me and Bob are tight.

4/30/13

Suddenly, a car.

My wife had a 3-year lease on a Nissan Sentra, and her monthly payment was $56 a month.

How did she manage this, you ask?  Three years ago, she traded in a car worth about seven grand because the air conditioner didn't work.  After we had spent about $900 getting it fixed.  So for three years, life was good.

Then it was time for me to go out of town for a week.  Immediately, the funny noises started. In the car,  not my wife.  So the sequence of events went something like this:

Friday 

"My car sounds loud."
"It's fine."
"No, I think something is wrong with it."
"Well, you have to get the oil changed tomorrow, have them take a look."
"It sounds like the muffler is falling off."
"It's only got thirty thousand miles on it, the exhaust system should be fine."
"But maybe something happened to it when I hit that giant rock in the middle of the road."
"…"

Saturday, after returning from the dealer's "free" oil change

"Well, I don't know what they did to it, but it's really loud now.  They said I need new brakes and a new exhaust system and it's going to cost about $700. They said if I don't get it fixed, it will leak carbon monoxide into the cabin."

There's nothing I hate more than some dirtbag mechanic trying to scare a woman into repairs because she doesn't know any better.   I go outside and have her start the car and it sounds like my lawnmower.  I look underneath it and I can't see much of anything except for rust.  Apparently Nissan is making their new exhaust systems out of old exhaust systems just to save time.   I follow the pipe backward to where it goes over the axle, and it's completely rotted away from the flange and hanging in two pieces, supported only by the connection to the motor in the front, and by one half-rotten hanger in the back, with the bulk of the muffler's weight resting on the top of the axle.

"Well, you can't drive it like this."
"What am I supposed to do?  You're on a flight out of town tomorrow, and I have to get to work on Monday."
"I can try to wire it up with something tomorrow."
"It's supposed to rain."
"You could drive it like it is. You'd probably be fine. Probably."
"Gee, thanks."
"You could drop me off at the airport and drive my car all week.  If you could drive a stick."
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
"It's your own fault. I offered to teach you."
(dirty look)

We've been married a long time.

The next thing I know, we're driving her car back down to the dealership,  because at this point it seems to be the least painful option.  Our plan is to talk to a sales guy about turning in her lease a little early and getting a new car.  Which, it turns out, she already did.  She introduces me to Shawn like they're old friends. Possibly lovers.  And he knows every detail about the car and the existing lease and the work that needs to be done on our existing car.  Dammit, I've been had. We really have been married a long time.

Shawn is a slick little black guy who reminds me of a young Sammy Davis Jr.  When she introduces us, he sticks out his hand to shake mine and I reciprocate, but something goes horribly wrong and the next thing I know he's got the tips of my four fingers in his vice-like grip and I feel like a big pussy.  Dammit! He's an early closer! 

At first I can't tell if he did it on purpose, or if it was just bad timing on my part.  I feel like I should curtsy.  The early close is a power move that I used to be on the lookout for when I was in sales, but I don't shake many hands in my current job.  It gets worse then, because he's not letting go right away (ok, it's a power move),  I'm forced to extricate my limp asparagus fingers from his manly shake by quickly yanking my fingers out of his grip like it was some kind of rat-trapped glory hole.

And then we get down to bargaining.  I've already lost.

He throws out all the typical car salesman crap -- we can either pay to have the other car fixed and pay the $350 "turn in fee" (eff you Nissan) or we can put the same amount of money down and walk out with a new 3-year lease on a new car.  He can offer us a deal if we do it right now, he has to clear it with his manager, but it's a smokin' deal, what can I do to make you walk out of here with that car today, blah, blah, blah.

He actually wrote some very large numbers on a blank sheet of paper.  I don't mean large numbers as in the car was expensive.  I mean he wrote them in 2" high text.   I don't really know what his angle was there.  Maybe it was just a visual aid.  Anyway, that's the paper he "took to the manager."   It looked like a second grader's homework, but he was on a roll, so I let him go.

Our other option, and one that I was seriously thinking about for a few minutes, was to fix the brakes and the exhaust and buy the original car outright.  I could tell that my wife wanted a new one because she kept saying, "If the muffler fell off at thirty thousand miles, what else is going to go wrong?"  I didn't argue because I just wanted the reaming to be over. And she was possibly right. The only benefit to a lease is no maintenance, and I haven't had much luck in the "drive it til it drops" arena.

I brought up the topic of the crappy exhaust system on the original car and Shawn kept saying it was an anomaly.  He said it like he was on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and there was some weird noise coming from the engineering deck.  "It seems to be some kind of anomaly in the exhaust system, Captain."  I asked him if Nissan was using old license plates to make their exhaust systems these days since I have a Honda Fit with twice as many miles on it and the exhaust system is fine, but he had no answer other than it was clearly an anomaly.  Ensign red shirt, we need you for the away team.

We eventually got down to the point where we walked the lot looking for cars.  It was cold and miserable, and just as it started raining we found a Sentra that was both priced right for the $199 monthly payment we were looking for, and also a color that my wife could stand.  Her original car was bright blue and rather sporty, and this lot was full of silver, black, grey, grey and more grey. Seriously, they had three different shades of grey. It looked like the parking lot at the FBI building.  She grudgingly opted for silver.  We went back inside and signed on the dotted line five minutes before they closed, and they were nice enough to let us borrow a car until the next day so we didn't have to drive home sounding like a Harley Fatboy going uphill.

As we were leaving, Shawn stuck out his hand to shake mine and that bastard early-closed again.

"Dammit!" I said, yanking my fingers free and repositioning my hand before he could react.  I then gave him  my most manly handshake.   He looked a little startled, but I didn't care. It was the principle of the thing.

Early-closing son of a bitch.


3/24/13

Can't touch this.


Lately I've been noticing a lot of commercials on television that seem to be pushing the auto-everything faucets for the home kitchen and bathroom.  I've even seen motion-sensor soap dispensers for sale at Lowes.  I think this technology is probably not destined to do well in the home, at least not at first.  People in general (and me in particular) aren't inclined to replace faucets that work, so the overall adoption rate on this sort of thing will be slow in coming. Also, replacing a washer is a lot easier than replacing an entire faucet, and these technological wonders have electronics and batteries inside.  All that just means there's more stuff to break, and when it does break, it's more costly to fix.

We've had these things in the workplace for years now, and it does make some kind of sense in that environment. It basically idiot-proofs the bathroom against both regular idiots and malicious idiots.   The regular idiots are the ones who don't flush, and the malicious idiots are the ones who plug up the sink drain with toilet paper and then turn the faucets on full blast because they think it's fun.

The companies who make these things also mention the sanitation benefits of not having to actually touch the germ-laden surfaces of the bathroom, but most places fall short in providing the total package.  Where I work, for instance, they have the auto-flush everything, the auto-water faucet and auto soap, but they make you do the paper towels and open the door to the bathroom manually.

There's always the small percentage of scummers that don't bother to wash their hands, so I make sure I open the exit door with a paper towel.  Unfortunately, I never even thought about the paper towel dispensers themselves until I saw a guy do this:  He came out of the stall, hit the button on the paper towel dispenser a few times so his fresh paper towel was hanging there, then he washed his hands, tore off the hanging paper towel, dried his hands and left.

Good for him, but bad for the rest of us who have been unwittingly palming the poop-covered button *after* washing our hands.  So now I always push the towels first too -- yes, I realize I'm touching someone else's personal strain of e.coli, but I'm also secure in the knowledge that I'll be thoroughly washing it off before it has a chance to migrate up my arm.  Sure, you could argue that I'm now part of the problem, and I'd refute that by saying who gives a shit because now it's your problem and not mine.  So there you go.  Just a little PSA from me to you.

I think they should have everything automated, including the paper towels, and *especially* the door to the stall. You don't even want to think about the amount of invisible crap germs just sitting on that little knob you have to touch in order to lock and unlock the stall door.  Just think about the last place your fingers were right before you touched that knob.  And don't say your phone or I'll have to kill you.

There are a few drawbacks to the auto-everything model though.  As with all technology, sometimes things don't go quite as planned.  A few of my favorites include:

The Soap Job -- This happens when you put your hand under the soap dispenser, get a big gob of liquid soap spit into it, and then when you put your hand under the faucet sensor, nothing happens because the piece of shit sensor battery is dead.  Not a huge problem if you've got more than one sink and at least one of them is working, but I've been stranded a few times trying to get gooey soap out from under my wedding ring with paper towels that have the consistency of tree bark.

The disappearing seat cover --  This is where you go into a stall, take out a paper seat cover, carefully place it on the seat, turn around to drop trou and just before you sit, the toilet flushes your seat cover so you have no choice but to do the 180-degree pants-down waddle, pull another seat cover out of the holder and try again.

The bad lean --- This is where you're sitting there minding your own business, and as you innocently lean forward to put your elbows on your knees, your upper body gets far enough away from the sensor that the toilet flushes, spraying your exposed ass with cold toilet water of questionable cleanliness. Even worse, sometimes this will happen during the clean up phase, and you'll get hit with water a half-dozen times and finally end up doing a standing wipe just to avoid having toilet water running down the back of your legs.

The flip side of this is that as the technology becomes more prevalent, we get more and more used to it.  Take work, for instance. If the place you work has auto-everything, you might find yourself at a friend's house standing stupidly in front of the bathroom sink dry-cupping.  In other words, standing there like an idiot waving your cupped hands back and forth underneath what is clearly a regular faucet, waiting for the water to magically appear.  (Note: I've done this.)

The other issue is more serious.  It's what I like to call the ULB, or unintentional leave-behind.  Say you're at a friend's house attending a little dinner party and you've disappeared for a few minutes to drop the kids off at the pool.  You finish up, wash your hands, leave the bathroom, and head back to the party before anyone misses you.  Then a few minutes into dinner, you realize that you forgot to flush, so you have to pretend to choke on your food and run back to the bathroom to get rid of the evidence before anyone else can get in there.  (Note: I've never done this.*)

As for the solution to the first couple of problems, I have another little PSA for you:  When you first go into a auto-flush stall, take a small length of TP, say maybe six inches or so, and drape it over the sensor in the back.  Problem solved.  You're welcome.  Just remember to take it off when you leave, to prevent your own ULB.   As for the ULB when you're at a friend's house, well,  you're on your own there.

Maybe don't get so drunk next time.


*that you know of.