Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Dainty 2013: Year in Review

And they go faster and faster. The years they do. Everything is in fast forward. We'll be in the grave in no time. Make the most of things. Here's to 2013.

I learned that the universe is a lot more like a cat (unpredictable) than a washing machine (cyclical), according to Nassim Taleb. I found myself watching a lot of his talks and reading his book much of this year and found it be enlightening. It's tough for me to sit still with a long book (my greatest flaw), but I made it through this one, so it must be good, right? (Antifragile:Things that Gain from Disorder).

I perfected my chili recipe. No, really, it is the shit. I will put it up against any other chili.

I perfected my approach to tacos. I eat tacos now, on average, 2 to 3 times a weak. I suspect I'll be burnt out on this soon.

I got into Tabuli.

The band continues to play, writing new tunes and recording. Had lots of excellent gigs during this year. We look forward to new gigs and venues in 2014.

I made it up to Canada this year, Niagara Falls/Ste. Catharine area, and road the train a lot across PA. Other than that, not really much travelling.

I'd say, the greatest accomplishment of this year was a establishing a serious wiffle ball league. Well, not really a league, but a group of adults who consistently showed up to drink and play the game. We had good games and good turnouts, pretty much always. And it was fun to run the bases again.

Lots to be grateful for in 2013, we hope 2014 is even better.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Life Drawing

I went to school for art. Life drawing was a requirement, so this had to be done. Not that I was against it, but I've just always felt more comfortable when people have their clothes on. I've changed a bit since then, though I still generally believe the human body is vile and disgusting (unless you're built like a pornstar-by pornstar, i mean 80s pornstar).

My experience at that time, with other naked bodies was, well, quite limited. I took a vow of celibacy in the tradition of Morrissey. My vow was probably a little more involuntary than his and that's because life is hard. So, there was much talk and anticipation about this course among my few friends who, believe it or not, had less game than me at the time. We were all innocent babes, wet behind the ears if you will. I don't even think I'd been to a strip club yet.

So, it was time for class.

They brought out some thin fit older chick. On the outside I looked calm, inside was a different story. To make matters worse, she posed, like, spread out, facing me, and not too far from me. It was a struggle to keep my cool and focus at the task at hand. At that age, especially, you want to jump on everything, and regardless of the classroom setting, those thoughts did come to mind.

Everyone that poses has a smell too. Those smells can play on your brain. She had a smell.

The five or ten minute session finally ended and I took a deep breath. It was over and the pose changed and it a lot easier after that. Everything was easier after that pose. I didn't embarrass myself, and I think outwardly I projected an appropriate serious vibe (aside from the heavy panting and drool on my chin).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Little League/Competitiveness

A few people had posted this article on Facebook within the last week or so:

I got mixed feelings about this piece.

It made me think back to my brief stint in little league baseball before my left tibia got possessed by painful infectious demons putting me in early retirement. The game scared the shit out of me. It was pressure. Thankfully my father was cool, he would come to every game and be a quiet laid back spectator. I insisted he close his eyes when I was at bat (I don't think he did). I wasn't a bad player, and I could pitch okay in our league, but everything was stressful for me. I don't think he ever critiqued my playing and was happy that I was just out there.

We weren't in a crazy serious balls-to-the-wall league. There was better talent in other leagues in the city. But the idea of performing in front of parents and others is a big deal at that age regardless of skill level. I was a sensitive kid too.

Through encouragement I did make it to most games and practices and I'm thankful I did. For a brief time, it toughened me up, and I wish I could've done it longer.

Going back to the article (linked above), I can sympathize with the points made about obnoxious parents and coaches taking the game too seriously. In the scheme of things, it is children playing a game, it need not be hell on earth.

On the other hand, the game itself becomes pretty meaningless if no one cares to win and no one is taught anything. The fundamentals are key. Sitting a less talented player on the bench for most (or all) of the game is not the end of the world. Maybe it will force him/her to improve. I'm okay with that. Wanting to win isn't bad and neither is focusing on it. We need not fear such things. It's life.

It should be understood that there are leagues for serious competitors and there might be other associations that are more inclusive. These two approaches can peacefully co-exist. Understand what your aim is, and operate according to those values. Know what you're getting into. Don't complain.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Find a City. (Places I would live)/(Places I wouln't "live there if you paid me')

Those in my inner circle (i,e the Intelligensea) understand I'm quite content in my current environs. There's no rush to leave and that might make others sad. I won't disclose my exact whereabouts, but let's just say we're in a small college town between Allentown and Reading, PA, surrounded by farms, on the eastern side of the lovely state. It's cheap living, a comfortable Main St., and low key vibes, and with that, comes the feeling that you are someone, not just one among the masses. It's a false sense of power maybe, but I'll take it.

But, as a travelling man, encountering new frontiers and urban areas, one thing that I will do, is, try to picture myself living there, wherever there is at the time. It seems, in most cases, I'm hit with a feeling of, "wow, it would be cool to move here", imagining work in said town or city, the commute, and where I would eat, grocery shop, and even run game on the broads. Other times, and more rarely, I'll think "wow, this place is really depressing, what do people do here."

Both feelings are common, I'm sure most of us do this.

So, with that spirit in mind, I'm doing two top 5 lists of places I would live, and places I wouldn't live. For the most part, I've been to the city more than once, but there are maybe a couple exceptions.

Top 5 - I would live here. (not in any specific order)
I've had a prejudice against the west coast for most of my life. For some reason it's never appealed to me and I've had little desire to go there. And, well, as much as I hate grunge music, Seattle kind of changed that for me. For being a bigger city, it didn't seem large. There's sushi everywhere, lots of water, mountains and natural things close by, and the neighborhoods seemed pretty cozy. Practically, I couldn't afford to live there and enjoy it, and in light of the nuclear disaster in Japan, and Seattle kind of being in its path, its a little less attractive. But, it's still good.

Why the hell Rochester? I've been there quite often and it feels strangely welcoming. Again, it's got water (the Lake and the Genesee), beaches, posh neighborhoods and it's the birthplace of Wegman's. I recently stayed with a friend of mine who lives downtown and his rent wasn't all that high, and he had access to awesome bars, and a fast bus to Toronto (aka T dot). If you fish, there's crazy huge brown trout and salmon. Maybe it's a little flat for me, but there are some neat gorges and waterfalls. Don't shit on the place until you've been there. It seems very livable and very good live music vibes and friendly ladies.

Maybe the most unrealistic and the most charming place on the list, and kind of a no-brainer. I would bet I couldn't do nearly the amount of things over there, that I'm doing here now (owning a car might being one of them). I could picture myself being in a shitty neighborhood, in a shitty apartment, struggling pay check to pay check, eating canned goods most of the time and maybe that would be worth it to be surrounded by such beauty, the buildings, churches, pubs, rivers, boats, etc. I'm too lazy to even try moving there, but if there are any English readers of this blog that wish to marry me and make me a legal citizen, please let me know. Comment below.

Yeah, this wouldn't be a big move, it's about 40 minutes from where I live and slightly reminds me of my hometown of Pittsburgh, though it's a little smaller. Great restaurants, nice historical section, and a some universities, the Lehigh runs through it, separating the North from the Southside. I've had good live music experiences there too and many times.

I'd need to learn French, but I just love it's location, sort of far away from everything. Cool historical, yet sadly, over touristy section of town is "breath-taking" if you will, overlooking the St Laurance. There are sort of posh looking 'hoods on the drive in. Originally I was going to put Montreal, which has more English speakers, but, I prefer the small to the large.

Honourable Mention: Places that came to mind, but didn't spend too much time there, or just not quite good enough - for one reason or another, but close...
Ottawa, ON
St. Catharines ON
Redbank, NJ
Toronto, ON
New Paltz, NY
Pittsburgh, PA (already grew up there, sort of disqualified)
Portland, ME

Top 5 - I wouldn't live here. (not in any specific order)
It's about 20 minutes from Denver. I was there two times in the 1990s and I remember beautiful mountain landscapes and the smell of Coors Brewery, with a trout stream running through town. What's the problem? That's all that there is. Everything is so isolated. Denver is close, but Denver didn't blow my mind. The place just seemed kind of isolated, in a bad way.

I was there just once in the 90s and I see no point to ever returning to that flat hot hell. I'm done.

I spent a couple days in downtown Detroit, I remember the Casino, St. Andrews, and the "new" ball field, and all of those things are nice. We all know about the rest of that place though. More of my time was spent just outside of town, and one thing that stuck in my mind were all the goddamned multi lane roads and too many cars. And it all was flat.

Yeah, it's a nice place to visit on occasion but living there would be a different story. The place has changed so much, since I was first there in the 1990s. It's almost like a mini Las Vegas now. Aside from the waterfall, the only things there are: Casinos, Strip Clubs, and chain restaurants. Drive through the outskirts of town and it begins to get really depressing. I wonder what people do there who aren't working in something related to tourism.

I had a term of college up there in 1995. Initially I was disappointed that the campus was separated from the town of Erie, but as I got to spend some time in the city, I was less and less sad. You would think it be a little more interesting given it's location in between Buffalo and Cleveland, and on the lake but that's just not the case. Stay away.

Dishonourable Mention: Places that came to mind, but didn't spend too much time there, or just not quite horrible enough - for one reason or another, but close...
Brownsville, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Monticello, NY (talk about weird)
Newburgh, NY
Washington DC
The rest of New Jersey.
90% of what's south of the Mason-Dixon line and west of Ohio.

In closing, these opinions are based mainly on emotions and feelings upon entering and spending time in the town. There has been no research put behind this. Some of these opinions might be dated because some places on the list I haven't been to in a while. I guess there is a chance Erie has pulled itself together, but I kind of doubt it. I haven't heard anything.

For the few that read this, please put your list below, with reasons why.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


It's a weakness of mine. I have a lot. A lot of weaknesses and shoes. They are important. Given past leg problems, comfort is just as important, if not more, than style. Style is also important.

Converse All-Stars/Chuck Taylors are nice looking, I guess, but I'd never wear them because they seem as though they'd be uncomforatable. I think they're warn too much too. I was lucky enough to have a friend hook me up with some high end, posh, if you will, sneakers, from not so common brand names. For style and comfort these shoes rock [Teva, Karhu (Finland)]. The Tevas are orange and the Karhus are green. Well made, well styled shoes rock.

For Dress shoes I've been wearing these Clark's loafers (tan). At the outlet store I can get them for about $30. They are light weight, casual, and comfy. Good for any situation. They last about 2+ years or so. I also own a couple Doc Marten's that don't look like Doc Marten's, thank god they don't have the yellow stitching. Both are black, one is a boot, one is low. They have an air cushioned soul. I also have some Clark's wingtips, which, surprisingly, and sadly, they aren't too comfy, but they are styled nicely. When I wear the wingtips, it's strictly a fashion statement.

I like plain, almost dykish looking shoes on a chick. I like plain things in general, but it's also nice to have exceptions.

My exception regarding shoes are these orange suede with a shiny buckle. Flamboyantly styled, yet super comfortable, I'm often torn about wearing them out. They come with a matching suede belt.

Maybe I'll post some pics.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Haven't Written in a While/Ramblings.

It's been sort of a long time since I've posted. I guess I have nothing that's really bothering me at this time, or I'm watching what I'm writing. You gotta be careful out there, there are a lot of hyper sensitive souls that enjoy taking maximum offense to hearsay and distortions. They may do what do they want, it's not my care.

Got to go to Rochester a couple weeks ago which was nice. I saw some good bands, and a nice venue, and met a couple girls who I won't see again. One of them reminded me of someone from the past. It was weird.

I like Rochester.

It's starting to get breezy. The wind goes up the dress slacks. Time to pull out long johns. They make a big difference.

The government remains shut down (20% of it - maybe - please correct this if it's wrong). Peeps continue to complain about it. Life goes on the same.

A little over two months until Christmas, then a new year. I'd like to go abroad in January. Preferably back to the British Isles somewhere, but maybe not London. I'm looking into that couchsurfing website for room 'n' board. I also have a friend in Paris I think. Still.

I'll come up with some plan, or I'll just stay here, and not spend the money. The money I don't have.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Yeah, but Kutztown isn't real life."

I've been in this town since 1997. Some friends who have left, return, and get all nostalgic about the place, and then utter the words, "yeah, but Kutztown isn't real life," or "Kutztown isn't reality." Usually it's after a few drinks at the local tavern they used to enjoy regularly but can't anymore, and usually it comes along with a smug little grin.

I usually nod and smile, one of the few things I won't get into an argument over, but I have pondered that sentiment from time to time, and I'm going to try to make peace with it.

First, I get a little confused at the term "real life" or "reality." What does it mean? Who determines what's legit and what's not? I don't think they intend to insult, but what's being said, really, is, you don't live in reality. Something a parent might tell a teenager.

Why is it fantasy land?

Well, the town is a magical place, and when the fog sets in, it can appear to be a fantasy of sorts (you can almost see unicorns and sprites ~ if you will), but, aside from that, all of my friends responsibly hold jobs, some, a lot, even have families. I know there's good and friendly bars around here, but you can find that in most places if you give it time. People work together, and gather more, and play wiffle ball and have bands and endeavors, I don't know. On the weekends, some like to spend a lot of time drinking and enjoying the afternoon. What's the problem? These are all choices and preferences and because it doesn't fit into one person's sense of the real world based on what outside influences have told them doesn't make it anything less.

At the heart of it, I think some who ask such preposterous questions, deep inside, probably regret that they feel forced into something they don't really want and are too weak to refuse it. I understand if the town has gotten old, that's natural, move on to something else. (I even, at times think of moving, but not because it's a fairy tale.)

But, to say this place is less reality based than the "righteous" area they've selected is just narrow-minded.

People live in this town for lots of reasons and for me it has nothing to do with nostalgic warm feelings about the university as my social life was pretty quiet/lame during those years. I think a lot of us stay here cause of the support, warmth, and the lack of bullshit you have to put up with.

Mainly, you (or at least I) don't feel trapped in this space. There's a sense you can do what you want, and feel safe about it and in most cases get supported.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The A-Team Movie/The End of 'Merica

While unwinding afterwork, at my local undisclosed tavern, I noticed a relatively new movie on the big screen TV. The movie included some helicopter chases, an older military man with a cigar, a couple of chumps, and someone that reminded me of Mr. T. Eventually I put two and two together, and asked the gentleman sitting next to me if that was supposed to be the A-Team.

"YES." (was the answer)

I perked up and tried to follow along. I wanted to like it but my spirit wouldn't let me. Now, I have no clue what the plot was or how it ended - but everything, from my 20 to 25 minutes of "sort of" watching this movie had me uneasy. It seems as though they took the members of the A-Team, watered them down, stripped them of any real character or uniqueness, and had them working for the military. (I don't know how it ends, as I've said, but I heard they do "go rogue" at the end).

The new "Murdoch" was the closest to any character I could tolerate. The rest of them were just horrible imitators. Seriously, why even bother trying to replace George Peppard (Hannibal) in the first place, few men have his class and ruggedness. The new "Face" might have been the biggest attrocity, lacking the charm and, and dare I say glow of the old one played by Dirk Benedict. I won't even bother talking about Mr. T.

To make matters worse, they were in Iraq, working with the military...working with the government. WTF?

Yes, working with the government and not the common man (woman).
Enough said.

I'm done and heading to the latrine to vomit my tacos. If you are indeed a masochist and grew up with the original show, I highly recommend watching this movie. Otherwise, like most things in American pop culture...stay the f### away!

Dukes of Hazzard Memoirs

(picture courtesy of: )

It's a tough world out there. A boy needs healthy examples of family and friends (those who got your back) and heroes (courage and ethics). Any self respecting American boy should also be brought up with a distrust of law enforcement and government power (truth to power). I got all of these through the Dukes of Hazzard as it aired roughly around the time I was about age three to age eight.

(for those looking for a detailed description of this great programme, check here: )

The tail end of that period (not that it was a perfect age - no age is perfect) where men could unapologetically be men, fast well made American cars dominated the markets and roads, and it was understood that it was one's duty to stand up for their own honor. Only the bad guys whined. (Now we all whine).

The Dukes made my first memorable television moments along with Waylon Jennings doing much of the side commentary, keeping us in suspense over commercial breaks (commercials were better than too). A good show will make you want to be part of it, and its conflicts, and I wanted to be a Duke.

And while I couldn't be a Duke, (if they did exist in real life, they would've hated me for being a Yankee Catholic) we did, (my brother and sister and mother) come up with a fun Dukes of Hazzard ritual I remember to this day very fondly during the hot summer nights in Shadyside.

We had cardboard boxes. We each sat in our own. We could decorate these boxes to look like the cars in the car chases. I was probably three years old, so I'm sure mine looked like shit. Regardless, it made us feel as though we were participating in the chases along with an element of creativity. Consider early 1980s virtual reality. A couple other neighborhood kids would come over too. Nobody was too cool for this shit. This was the shit.

Mother would make Chef Boyardee from those pizza "kits" and it was the bomb. (While I make my own well-crafted pizzas these days, I often think about buying one of those pizza kits to bring me back to those times).

All of this was watched on a black and white television. We had decent reception.

Life wasn't hard then.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Beheaded and Quartered

So, a dispute happens in a soccer match in Brazil. A player gets a penalty (if that's the correct term), refuses to leave, then gets stabbed by the referee. Stabbed to death, that is. Okay, that's weird and uncalled for, but I'm sure it's happened before.

The fans and family members of the stabbed player rush the field, stone the referee to death (biblical style), then proceed to behead the gentleman and cut off his arms and legs. That's not enough, they put his head on a fence post.

(You can't dream this stuff up)

To put this in context, the match did not occur in a large arena, it looked more like a park. As I'm thinking about this story, I'm trying to match it with a setting in my own location. Possibly a softball game, or a men's basketball game, or an adult baseball league. I'm thinking of the parks around here and games that I've gone to, or walked by, and thinking about how messed up it would be to see an umpire or referee's head placed on the foul poll or post on a baseball field, or seeing separated bloody limbs on a grassy field, or basketball court.

((From a moral/ethical standpoint, the fans were obligated to go after the referee and stop the stabbing. That was an act of defending the innocent. The referee is not an innocent victim. Let's be clear. What they did afterwards is the part most of us can't understand. Most of us seem to, or were born with, respect for a dead corpse.))

Of all the bullshit people post on facebook, nobody seems to be mentioning this, maybe the most craziest story of our lifetime (definitely Top 5). Or, at least crazy to me, maybe I'm an ignorant American who has no understanding of the intensity of South American soccer culture.

Since the Nick Berg beheading (2004 or 5 ~ Iraq War) I've had a strange interest in that whole process and what drives people do to it. In a wartime situation, people will do anything for propaganda (though I believe the government was behind Berg's death ~ and used it for propaganda, quite well).

Beheading someone during a soccer match I just can't comprehend, even if it was in retaliation for a stabbing.

For those of you who haven't heard this story, or think I'm making it up, check the link below:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Greatest Fear in Life.

(thank the heavens for low testosterone)~

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I never liked sharing. I've always wanted my stuff, and it had to mine.


You need to get your goddamn hands off of it. No you can't have my popcorn. It's mine. I possess it.

You can't have MY beer either. If I have extra cash, I'd be more than happy to buy a beer and give it to you. Then it's yours, and it's not mine anymore. I don't want anything to do with it at that point. Like I said, if I have the cash, I'm glad I can buy it for you.

What's with these people that share drinks. My father wouldn't even drink out of the same cup I drank from and I don't blame him, I felt the same way about his. But some people are so caught up in their own "selflessness" that they have no clue how they impose on someone if they ask for a sip of their cola.

"Can I have a sip of your drink?"...Probably the worst question to be asked. Ever!

Yeah, I'll let you borrow something if you ask, as I've been helped out by people letting me borrow something (I'm not completely oblivious to that). I don't see that as sharing. Do you? Is it just a matter of words?

In the end, I'd rather just give you something, and let it be yours. If I can afford it. At this point it might only be beers or a meal. But go f### yourself if you dare ask me to share something with you.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Craft Beers.

I don't consider myself a heavy beer drinker, or even a connoisseur, or anything of the like. I'm nothing close to an authority on the matter. Having said this, I'm going to go against a lot that is sacred and holy and held in high esteem.

I haven't found a craft beer that really excites me. That I care for in any strong way. That makes me want to get it on a regular basis. More than that, I find a lot of their labeling to be over the top, if not annoying. Beer labels need to be simple and strong. There's no need to put extravagant illustrations on the goddamn bottle. Keep it f#cking simple.

There, I said it.

The only things I find delicious these days are anything in cans with widgets, most likely originating from the UK (I'll drink some snobby German stuff from time to time too). I don't consider Boddingtons, Guinness, or Young's Double Chocolate Stout to fit in the category of craft brewing. Haven't they all sold out to big corporations?

I like and fully understand the idea of supporting the little guy. But if it's not what I want, I'm not going to pay for it. It's about what I want and what makes me happy. There is nothing wrong with that.

So, I would like to find something that is made by the little guy, created on a small local scale, that satisfies my beer drinking needs, and equals or surpasses the quality and smoothness of those British creations. Instead I usually get poor labeling, mediocre taste, and a bit of acid reflux. With a voice in my head saying, "fVck me" ...for ordering it.

As much as I'm really not into the whole craft beer thing, I think it's great it's going on, and I hope more and different beers get made, and maybe one day I fall in love with one. As for now, I'm
sticking with dirty big business.

(this is a rather fragmented blog sort of)

I Was a Telemarketer.

One of the many reasons for me to really hate the decade of the 90s was the five to six months I spent as a telemarketer. I had a term of college in the fall of 1995, and needless to say, f#cked around (figuratively of course), and had to return home temporarily with my tail (and ego) between my legs. I couldn't just do what I've always aspired to do, sleep in, watch 80s sitcoms, and sleep a bit more. I had to get a job.

There was an ad in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for this place called the IRL, or International Reader's League. The woman that interviewed me was an old hag, who was a chain smoker, which you could clearly hear in her voice, and wore press on nails. They had me recite a script, and then hired me.

The offices were located in a little strip mall on the second floor, on one of the trolley stops. I would ride the bus into town, and then take the trolley to work. It made me feel as though I had a sort of legit job. I was living at home.

The deal was to lock people into magazine subscriptions for a five year period. The script would start out by saying they've been selected to receive this "special" offer. It needed to be said with enthusiasm. If they didn't hang up, or completely reject us from the start, the next step was to ask them their interests, and this is how we would select and suggest magazines for them. We would also start small talk and become their "friends." I had many interesting conversations. One time I had called the wife of a Pro-Wrestler [assuming she was being truthful(we called the south a lot)].

Imagine a smoke filled room with computers and cigarettes and people with headsets. My confidence was at an all time low, and I was thrown (or I threw myself) into this telemarketing hell, though I only worked 9am to 1pm. I have no idea how people could spend a whole eight hours there.

There were a couple trashy Pittsburgh broads I really wanted nail who would work the phones with me. One of them had enormous breasts and a thick Pittsburgh dialect to go with it. When your confidence is at an all time low and you don't know your ass from a whole in a ground, the last thing you feel up to doing is running game. And, it's probably good I didn't as I probably would've been the asshole to knock one of them up knowing my luck and how things were going for me at that time.

It's quite reasonable to hate the telemarketer, but put yourself in their shoes for a bit. Imagine going through day after day of rejections. Hearing NO!, and much worse and on a regular basis, when you literally mean no harm, and your hands are tied and you can't fight back (verbally, over the phone). I could sit there a whole morning, and never hear a yes, or even a polite word. It's brutal, and that part alone f#cks with your head. Forget about the fact that your number of sales gets put on the board for all to see, and your calls are sometimes being monitored by your boss. A man could go insane.

To ease the pain, I took up occasional cigar smoking (a 90s trend) and played pool by myself at a rather nice pool hall, which was a couple blocks away from the office. I'd do this sometime after work. I became quite good on the regulation sized table. I'd take my aggression out on the cue ball. It seemed to work. I kept to myself.

Eventually, a family member got sick and I had to take a job as a caretaker for them. And soon after I took a year at a community college, before going back to a state university. I lasted at the telemarketing job from February until about May. It was a weird period of time that I never want to go back to.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guy LaFleur

It's playoff  hockey time. Next to the NFL playoffs, pro sports doesn't get any better than that. A fellow by the name of Guy LaFleur (the Flower) comes to mind. So let's talk about him.

I became a hockey fan in about fifth grade. I remember buying a hockey sticker book at the local grocery store. I think it was for the 1987-88 hockey season. I could be off by a year. This helped me learn the rosters and remember all the logos and uniforms. I was always fond of the old Vancouver Canucks and Quebec Nordiques sweaters (as they call them).

Of course I was/am a Penguins fan, but occasionally WWOR would broadcast NY Rangers games on the MSG Network. At that time, Marv Albert was calling the games. He still may be doing that, I don't know.

While watching some of the Rangers games I noticed a right winger skating around, a little different from the rest, greeted by fans cheering "GHEEE!", not wearing a helmet, at a time when everyone else was (a rule that was mandatory, but "grandfathered" in, if you will). Quite graceful, there was something beautiful and at the same time comical about his presence on the ice, with the blond receeding hair flowing as he would skate back and forth and up down the rink, crossing over here and there. I can respect a man who doesn't wear a helmut, that's old school style.

This guy was clearly a bit more mature than the others and I've always been a fan of the old guys going up against the young (Jimmy Connors was another hero of mine). You know, those who have already proven themselves and come back strictly for the love of the game, not as fast and as strong as they once were, but still hauling ass. That's admirable. On some level, most of us can relate to that.

I probably only saw a few games in which he played but I do distinctly remember seeing him score on a slapshot from the blue line. I knew very little about his career and comeback, but his name was often referenced around me and my friends during intense street hockey games. I tried to model my game around the little I knew about his approach. It always brought laughs.

I had a poster of him which hung in my bedroom for quite sometime.

Thanks Guy.

(forgive the cheesiness of this post, but it's truth)

***sidenote: I believe you can youtube a disco album he put out in the 1970s. It's worth checking out.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Morning Devotional: It's Spring/It's Friday

We made it through winter. And this week. The temperature is warming. Time to turn over new leaves. Clean the apartment out, as well as your system. Start lifting weights to strengthen muscles and bones. There are new songs to be written about old circumstances you've overcome, or at least moved on from.

Start planting your seeds. The time is at hand. Learn how to can things and be self sustainable. There's always a Black Swan event waiting to happen. Be prepared.

You're probably more horny now too. Put away those puritan values you were raised on and go for the gold. They want it just as bad as you do. Start planting your seeds.

Wiffle ball is just around the corner and this is going to be your break out year. Start doing stretches. You're older now. Show some respect for the game and your body.

The medication (or alcohol) got you through the cold weather, now let the Vitamin D of the sun take over. No, not that you have to completely abstain, just watch your intake. Don't waste the good sunshine days laying around in your bed all f###ed up.

Walk around, grab a coffee.

Give thanks to the alien beings, 'cause, despite your first world petty problems (many of them self-created), you were blessed to be put in a community with good people who aren't too old to rock out or play wiffle ball. This is good. Most see it as empty childishness. But this is good.

We live in an age where most Americans, young and old, generally suck, and in their own way, have given up on life and have given in to bullshit. Unable to clearly think.

Remain a child. Embrace the light. Love and non-violence.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Awareness and Solidarity

The topic of gay marriage came to the Supreme Court the other day and I was greeted by a bombardment of images of pink equals signs on red backgrounds. It's a valid gripe, no group (moral authoritarian heterosexuals) has the right to bully on the minority (homosexuals who wish to get married) to force a specific definition of a term. Any reasonable person, I think, can understand this. Despite this though, I found myself getting extremely annoyed by the number of folks posting the equals signs in show of support.

Since it's popularity, I believe in the 90s (please correct me if I'm wrong), I've always been bothered by such symbolic acts of compassion. I think celebrities started doing it at various awards shows. Now the NFL has their players wearing pink shoes for breast cancer awareness (ridiculous). Please don't misunderstand me, the causes are valid. I'm NOT shitting on the cause. I'm shitting on the "notice me, I care about the boobies, I'm aware!" vibe that the whole act gives off. Does this affect anything thing. Does this make anyone feel any better because we're all sitting being aware and telling the world we are.

For those that don't do such outward acts, do they have less compassion? Are they heartless? Do they wish to see the Troops suffer, or more children with autism wander aimless and erratically with no care and support?

If a politician doesn't wear a flag on his/her lapel, are they un-American? (I think that came up a few years ago in the news, as a legit joke).

Another thing that sort of bugged me about yesterday's group histrionics (if you will) are the priorities of many of those that posted their equals signs up. Again, not shitting on the issue, it's a valid one, and I sympathize and support the cause. But one might assume that this is the most grave and serious issue facing the country at this point if they had logged into my Facebook page, from what I witnessed. Of all the shit, the scandal, the theft, the violent imperialism abroad, the continued infringements of rights, this is the one that gets most attention. This is obviously because the media chooses to hype up such controversy as it pretends to make the two political parties, outwardly seem different. And like a poorly informed and over sensitive populous, we feed into and hyper focus on just one injustice. (Why weren't people pissed off when the president legalized assassinations on American citizens? Everyone sort of STFU'd on that one, prolly not as cool to bust on Obama - um, not a conspiracy theory either.)

So, as everyone gleefully, and maybe impulsively threw up an (cool) equals to demonstrate their deep caring and sensitivity, some questions seem to have been lost in all of this. Why are we arguing this in the first place? (in other words) What is the origin of our government's restrictive marriage laws? Would taking the government out of the marriage business hurt anyone, or might it be a simple way to find common ground in an overly yet understandably divisive topic?

God forbid people mind their own business and let others live their own lives without a government dictating what is or isn't proper.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The D&D Kid from Across the Alley.

For a brief period of time there was this taller lanky kid who lived across the alley from us. When they had moved in I think my mom or dad ended up talking to his parents. My dad likes to sit on the back porch and see what's going on (not unlike white trash, white trash with a doctorate in engineering no less), and chat it up with the neighbors (more often than not, younger ladies half his age). This family was just one of many.

I think this was the late 1980s.

This kid would always wander aimlessly, skipping at times in the alley. He had no friends. He was quite a peculiar fellow. My mother saw this and felt bad for him, and suggested I go out and play with him. My older bro and I would end up making jokes about him - not to his face or in any kind of bullying sort of way. We'd just occasionally look out the window and watch this boy sized sprite/fairy "being" having fun with himself and his made up games and then of course comment to each other about how ridiculous that seemed. I'm certain the comments were clever and witty. I remember a lot of chuckling. I'm laughing now.

He was also heavily involved in D&D which seemed to make sense, considering his other weirdnesses. He was in his own universe and fully self sufficient at entertaining himself. Quite something to behold.

One summer night, I had nothing to do, and I saw him playing out in the alley with a wiffle ball bat swinging at something, I couldn't tell. He wasn't standing as a batter should. He was swinging the bat more like a tennis racket from what I remember. Mother was in the kitchen, again encouraging me to go out and play with him.

I'll try anything once. I was intrigued. I wanted to find out more.

Cautiously walking through our ghetto urban looking backyard, out to the alley, I introduced myself, as politely and warmly as I could. He was friendly back. I asked him what he was doing. He replied, "playing firefly baseball!"

(In my little brain, I was thinking....WTF!)

He kept swinging, at what looked like nothing, but it turns out he was trying to hit lightning bugs. Such enthusiasm he had. He handed me the bat so I could try. It felt weird. Aside from there not being a pitcher, or rules for that matter, like bases to run, the idea of hitting flies with a bat just seemed stupid and meaningless, but I tried to pretend some enthusiasm.

(There were also no winners or losers so it sucked even more)

This lasted for about ten minutes, before I felt the need to return back to the safety and sanctity of my home. I think I told him I had to go. And I said it politely. I don't remember being rude about any of it. If anything, I was awkward.

When I got back to the kitchen I had told my mother what we were doing, she decided it was probably not a good idea to not play with this child anymore. I don't think I told my brother as I was embarrassed for making an effort. He would've called me a fag or a sissy (and rightfully so).

(I would give my mom a tough time about this years after - Accusing her of forcing me to play with that D&D freak from the across the alley)

They ended up moving a month or two later.

***I'm quite certain this child ended up being far more intelligent than me, and probably makes a lot more money than I ever will...probably has a family, kids of his own, who participate in firefly baseball every summer.

***Fuck me.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Korean Garden and Restaurant - Blue Bell, PA.

One thing that I've picked up on in the last ten years or so, is that, if an Asian puts food out in front of you, and you don't know what it is, you don't ask questions. You just eat. This goes regardless of whether it's a restaurant or a home. It always works out. You always leave happy if not amazed. Put the dietary restrictions aside, STFU, and eat!

Me and my friend headed down to the Korean Garden and Restaurant in Blue Bell last Saturday. For me it was my second time. It was worth the drive.

Immediately we were bombarded with about seven or eight little bowls of appetizers which included green beans, kim chee, mushrooms, tofu, among other things, also included was a chili paste. They went fast. Everything was great. Light with a variety of flavors, small amounts, but just right.

We split scallion and red pepper (potato) pancake. It was about the size of a small pizza (and cut up like one), but a lot thinner and fluffier. It came with a soy and sesame sauce (I believe). I'd say it was the best pancake I've ever had.

Now, last time I was there, I ordered the raw beef and vegetables with a raw egg cracked over it (not called that officially). That was pretty good, but this time I went with the spicy Black Goat Stew. It was like a combination between a soup and a stew. It came out presented in a boiling pot - still bubbling.

Maybe the first time that I had goat (not sure), it was nice. It's hard for me to describe how it tasted, other than a meaty hearty broth, that was seasoned and spicy. Something you'd crave on a cold day. Many of the spices I don't think I've had before. I believe there were some kind of greens mixed in too. It was a large portion and probably didn't finish half of it at the table. It was great the day after.

***I would've taken a picture of it, but I feel like a weird food worshipping freak shooting a picture of my food in a crowded restaurant. Order it yourself and see what it looks like!***

So, you will have to shell out some cash for the food obviously, but considering the quality and quantity of the food, it's well worth it. We both left the place absolutely stuffed. Service was also excellent, along with the ambiance and vibe, even though it's located in an upscale "east coast" strip mall.

If you're in southeastern PA, I would recommend going.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Scorn of the Rings

There are a lot of things I despise fashion wise including gold necklaces and bracelets, tattoos and even soul patches. And, well, way up there on my list are rings (especially on men, but in general). I guess it started in the 90s when I noticed people wearing thumb rings. I swear I wanted to knock out each and every one of them, male and female alike. If I could.

I associate rings with decadence and royalty. People adorning themselves and spending cash on something that serves no purpose whatsoever is not something I like. Please understand, that I understand it is their right to look foolish. I have the right to dis it and rant about it on this unpopular, substance-less, whiny blog.

My dad never wears and he loves my mother as much as any other husband. The strong silent type don't wear rings.

Who wears rings?
The pope and bishops and cardinals wear rings. The nazis had military rings. People in high school will buy their class ring. Let's not forget the masons, they too have rings. All evil, up to no good. Flamboyantly flaunting wealth/power and/or knowledge of secret mysteries and/or prestige. It's vile and it needs to stop.

(side note: some people will actually fly to the Vatican to kiss the Pope's ring. WTF?)

I can tolerate (not that it matters) married people wearing rings but I still wouldn't do it if I were married. A simple/plain ring is all that's required. My mom has a very plain ring that serves the purpose. Other than this, no one should wear rings ever)

Please take off your rings after reading this blog. You now have the appropriate knowledge to move forward. Keep a plain and simple humble approach. Jewelry is for the insecure and small minded.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A List of My Own Vile Contradictions.

I enjoy pointing out others' hypocrisy, now let's look at some of my own. This isn't a pity party/"woe is me"/I'm a horrible person blog, just, hopefully, an honest assessment. We all have them, if we're honest. Instead of pretending we don't, let's address them. Do this in your own life.

(Dear Friends: You may not use any of these during any bar room political it'd be an invalid argument.)

Probably the thing that most interests me and I support but I have yet to start up my own business and give the "free" market a shot. Now, in my defense, there really isn't a free-market, and I would argue that things have so been destroyed or bastardized that it might be tougher than it's ever been (speculation). But, most of my employment has come from corporations, and even some that receive government funding. Integrity and consistency would dictate that I leave such things, but my level of comfort keeps me there. Comfort might be our worst enemy.

In relation to Free-markets is the idea of voluntaryism. The notion that people will/can help out the poor more effectively if it's done on a voluntary - and not by force or coercion (of government). Aside from a week in Kentucky, helping the poor for a Catholic charity (this was the 90s) I have little history of volunteering to help the less fortunate. Again, it comes down to comfort level. I would bet if I forced to help out, I might feel a little better about myself.

I don't like sharing glasses with people however I've done some reckless things in the past. Yes there was protection involved (always), but it still wasn't wise, and very opposite of how I feel vis-a-vis sharing food and drinks. This is all the detail that needs to be disclosed at this point.

Other notes on germs: I don't shower every day, and my apartment is rather messy. On positive note: I'm getting better at cleaning my kitchen.

Clean Meats
This is the big one, and I don't mind getting my balls busted over it, it makes me laugh quite loudly because it's utterly ridiculous. Yeah, I don't eat pork or shellfish, or bunnies. Some people decide to be vegetarians, I decide (in early 2000), that I'm going avoid pork and lobster. Because my body is a temple, no? Yet I'll drink large amounts of alcoholic beverages and other things (unmentioned) will pass through my dying system on a regular basis.

Moving forward.

Okay, now that I got that shit off of my chest, I'm going to out there and start my own business, work at a soup kitchen, go back to celibacy, and avoid all chemicals. I vow to rid myself of all things that make me feel comfortable or good. I will be in constant anxiety over where my next paycheck will come from, I won't have health care, and all this stress that builds from this will have no place to go since I'm abstaining from the flesh and chemicals. I will either have a breakdown, or succeed gloriously in being the most perfect consistent person ever while creating countless jobs for people around me, and giving anything extra to the less fortunate.

That would be nice.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Good Bars & Bad Bars.

We were often discouraged from becoming regulars at bars by our parents. Don't become a bar fly, they said. Low lifes hang out at bars. Do something useful with your time. At the moment it seemed to make sense, but that was many years ago. Having experienced the highs and lows that all human beings go through, I've found the bar to become quite a comfortable warm place to be, with therapeutic qualities.

Not all bars are great places though. They're probably a handful I go to on a semi-regular basis and I consider these to be "good" bars.

Probably the biggest reason for why I keep coming back. It's going to cost less in gas money and I'll be at lest risk of coppers if I go to a bar that is in a convenient location from my house.

A bar needs to be more than just convenient. Yeah, if there are tons of TV's and NASCAR promotions/ads on the wall, chances are, that's not going to be my place. If you the music selection is really bad and it's packed with local college kiddies, that probably won't be my place either. A decent mix is fine, more ladies is better, but that's not always going to be the case.

Beer Selection-
I don't drink anything but Beer and Ale really. There should be a nice selection of that at a bar. Drinking the higher quality stuff just goes down easier, makes me feel better, especially during the next day. Find a place offer the good shit.

Events, in a lot of cases can be nice. I really need to avoid all open mics and most cover bands because both the noise and the people they draw in are seriously tough to take. I've worked out a good thing with my local bar where my band plays twice a year. (We're not a cover band). Trivia nights can start out fun then become fucking annoying.

Usually after beers you get hungry. You don't need excellent food but you don't want shit either. Bar food can get old. Wings need to be top notch. I wish bars would serve Chinese take out. Somebody should do that (or do it more often). Another thing with bar food is that it can be overpriced.

You want bartenders that will serve you promptly and not get upset if you try to get their attention if you're not served promptly. You want a bartender who will listen and not judge and be smart enough to get your humor. It's okay if you can talk politics with your bartender, but you don't want them preaching at you. You want a conversation - if that's possible, depending on how busy the crowd is. That's hard for some people. Most bartenders should have some knowledge about sports.

A jukebox is always nice in the place. Lighting should turned down. It should feel warm. Strangely enough, the bar I go to most has grade school cafeteria style lighting and it doesn't bug me that much. You shouldn't feel uncomfortable in any bar, even if it's your first time. Hardwood floors are nice if you can do that. Unfortunately, more flat screen TV's are going up in what used be quite cozy bars. People are just too dumb to talk to each other anymore. WTF?

These are just a few things to consider, if you haven't when deciding about a bar. Some things you won't find out until after you put your time. It wouldn't hurt to bring the above things mentioned, in, to serve as a checklist though let it be known, you're first try at any bar might lead to some minor awkwardness, which will soon pass.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pro Wiffle Ball

My first moments of being part of a team took place in an alley next to our house. The game was wiffle ball. The beauty of this game is that it's cheap, you can set up a game in a lot of places if you have an imagination, and you can hit people with the ball. I still remember the intense joy I would get crossing home plate, as if I were quite literally home safe. High fives and team respect, winning and losing, disagreements, fights even, all happened. We worked them out on our own. There seemed to always be a game waiting to happen.

(Fast forward 25 years)

In the summer of 2008, me and a few friends formed a wiffle ball team to compete in a pretty intense tournament just outside of Trenton, NJ (I hate New Jersey). The average age of our team was about 40 years old. I had convinced everyone this was something we needed to do, and so we united. There were high hopes, practices, and I made uniforms. They were cool looking.

Trenton is a couple hours away so we got up early. I think we left right before 7am on a September Saturday. Locker room humor soon took over as we rode down.

We arrived at the huge park, which had at least 50 wiffle ball fields throughout the whole place, feeling a little nervous. Okay, at least I did. We signed in, having the best uniforms that day, and made our way down to our first game.

I pitched the first game. Now, I had a bit of confidence, being a little league legend, and I had a crazy knuckle ball which fooled a lot of my friends. We ended up competing against three pretty muscular bros in our first game. Picture it, little DaintyBones pitching to some strong experienced wiffle ballers. What the fuck could go wrong? All that had to be done was for me to hit the 3X4 foot wooden strike zone with my junk pitches. No problem. Yeah, and they had to swing and miss too.


It didn't take long. It didn't take long at all for the humiliation to commence. I had never seen a wiffle ball travel so goddamn far in my life. And with such consistency. I think I hurt my neck from turning around so quickly as the plastic ball would leave the park.

So, what happens is, when you end up giving up like 4 or 5 home runs right of the bat (double entendre), you get a little timid about throwing it over the strike zone. The batter realizes this, doesn't swing, and then you end up walking like 5 batters in a row. It starts to get cyclical. Walks - Home runs - Walks, with some outs and errors mixed in between. The whole thing was ugly, really, just quite shameful.

There is no point discussing the other two games, as they were all similar. By the middle of the last game, I broke out a bottle of whiskey, concealed in a paper bag of course, and we passed it around the dugout like four defeated men. Losing/failing is always a learning experience, and what we learned was that we had no business competing in this tournament, and that my knuckle ball was garbage.

As we headed home, through lovely Bucks county, we stopped at a few bars. One of the older fellas on the team made a "connection" with one of the servers at one pub (or, what he thought was a connection). We drank, ate, and discussed what would we do needed to do for the next time. Sadly there wouldn't be a next time for this roster.

You see, the Kutztown Hexxenwolves, as we were briefly called, suffered the worst off-season of any sports team ever. One player died, another ended up serving time, I fractured my hip, and the other player hurt is knee.

The summer after this wiffle ball tournament (2009), as I sat and laid on the couch, thinking about my friend/teammate who had passed, chewing up opiates like M&M's in recovery, watching Grease I and Grease II, and the Goldn Girls non-stop on the Lifetime Network (while having my piss buckets emptied), I had kept the dream alive that I would make the greatest comeback to wiffle ball. I read up on Bo Jackson (on wikipedia of course) who returned to baseball with a fake hip (I still have my own). I had committed to healthy living, even juicing greens religiously to speed up the return.

Reality set in, and I came to terms with the fact that my left hip will never be what it used to be - even after full recovery. Yes, I can still hump, and I needed to test it out (don't ask), but those days of pursuing fly balls, diving to for grounders and pushing off of the "mound" are over. My flexibility is half of what it was. Life's hard.

I'm quite blessed to have competed, even failing, with these three great gentlemen. Really, I'm happy I nagged these fellas to join me. I think it brought us back to childhood for a brief time. It made us all kids. More shit like that needs to be done.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Self Assessment: Fragile, Robust, AntiFragile

I'm still in the midst of finishing the book "AntiFragile." Forgive me, I'm a slow reader. But this may be my new fixation/obsession. At least the ideas may be. Practicing, or forcing Antifragility in one's own life may be easier said than done. Let's define the three states of being vis-a-vis Nassim Taleb's book.

Fragile: Something that is devastated by change, or doesn't respond well to it. There may be less errors in such systems, and fragile things are protected, but when a "black swan" (unpredictable) event happens, the results are pretty serious. Examples of this include, large centralized governments and also banking systems, but it can also be applied to nature, careers, industries.

Robust: Indifference to outside occurrences or change. Not affected.

Antifragile: Improves or gains from errors. An example cited in the book is the restaurant industry in New York. There are a lot of failures and competition. Restaurants will succeed because of the mistakes of other restaurants in this volatile environment making the entire industry antifragile. Switzerland is another example as it's highly decentralized and while there may be errors in that system at a more frequent rate, the errors are small scale or at a local level.

(I hope this makes sense - forgive me if it doesn't. I'm doing my best)

Because of my narcissistic tendencies, I will now evaluate my own existence and various aspects of my own life in relation to these terms.

Health - Fragile: I haven't been exercising or providing the right amount of stress to my body to show any sort of gains. In fact, objectively looking at it, I've been treating my health as pretty fragile. To improve this, I should walk/run more and even lift weights. I've been saying this for years - will it ever be done?

Love life - Antifragile/Robust, moving towards slight Fragility: This is personal, speak to me in private if you'd like to know why, but who gives a fuck?

The Band - Antifragile: I'd like to think it is. It's been through changes and I think it's come out pretty good.

Social Life - Antifragile: I think making a social life antifragile means having more than one bar or scene to go and lots of people to hang with in a variety of venues. Not putting your eggs in one basket. Right now I have Kutztown and the Lehigh Valley, but I'm kind of looking for other places to go. In other words, if something goes wrong in one place, your social life isn't destroyed, and you can move to another place without any weirdness or devastation. (I'm not planning on offending anyone more than I already have).

Career/Income - Super Fragile: To move towards Antifragility in my career/income would mean me starting up and doing more freelance work and maybe buying a house and finding renters. This would HELP to offset any "blackswan" (unforeseen layoffs) event at the office. I could also become a prostitute which is super Antifragile.

Belief systems - Antifragile/Robust (I hope): This one, I am biased on. It's actually really hard to see our own biases but I would like to think my views have shifted based on evidence thus making them stronger. But I think there might be some robustness to it, too, in relation to not being affected. I have shifted through the years though.

Okay-these are just a few areas I've attempted to speak of. I hope I've done it correctly. Maybe I have, maybe I haven't. Please share your comments and assess yourself and don't make fun of me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm Happy My Parents Weren't Hippies

I'm happy my mom and dad weren't hippies. I would've ended up with a fucked up first name and a sense of entitlement through the roof.

No, instead they were self-less old school. I've tried to retain a bit of this but sadly I think I've failed at that.

Fuck me.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Got Quoted!

Every now and then I Google "Dainty Bones" to see what comes up. And usually there are just links to this blog and various blog entries. No big deal.

Last week I did this and I saw a quote of mine regarding Jazz Guitarists come on a couple other websites I have no connection to. One of them was British. That was nice. (British people are nice when they're NOT butchering or colonizing peoples) Yeah, these 2 other sites barely get any hits either, but it was cool to see some folks I didn't know (unless they were friends trying to boost my self esteem, or an impersonal drone ) enjoy a little rant of mine so much they bothered to put it up on their own pages.

Large amounts of readers would be nice, but I never got into this thankless business of writing blogs (from the heart - to you) for the numbers or money game. If I've moved or changed the path of just one soul, then I've done my job.

Where I've been quoted:

(I don't endorse or condemn these sites)
More information to back up the ultimate truth that I am indeed a pathelic little attention whore.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

(Street Football) The Big Banana Cut Back.

At the end of August, we'd put away our baseball gloves in exchange for the pigskin. Most often this would take place in the back alley or a church parking lot. From early on, we were taught to run extremely tight pass routes. Our role model at the time was Steve Largeant who was some slow little white boy wide receiver for the Seahawks who would always manage to get open. Look him up if you're not familiar.

If you didn't run a tight pass route, chances are, you wouldn't get open, and even worse you'd get ridiculed for running a route like a little girl. Nobody wanted this, everybody wanted to get open, everybody wanted to score a touchdown. It was pick up football, in the back alley, but it was taken seriously. Your manhood, at age six or seven was on the line, and it got even more serious as you got older.

This was probably my experience listening to, and trying to follow instructions. My brother would give me specific routes to run. He was the quarterback up until I got into high school when I proved I could be a pretty accurate and consistent, and a serious threat when rolling out of the pocket. (I'm a lefty). When this happened, the roles were reversed, and I was calling the plays, and it progressed to the point where we would run timing patterns. Which means, I would throw the ball before he would make the break/cut in anticipation (the ball would already be in the air before he was ready to catch it). He was faster and ran better pass routes than me, so me becoming the quarterback was mutually beneficial.

The first "serious" pass route I learned to run was the "Big Banana Cut Back." You had to run it quickly otherwise the QB would tits up. You'd run in sort of a curve (see diagram above) to the other side of the field. To sell the route, you had to act as though the ball was on its way, and this would happen after a little pump fake from the QB - which would cause the QB to over commit as you were cutting back the other way. It took a whole afternoon or so to get that one, and eventually I'd half ass the route and hear about as I'd return to the line of scrimmage.

The fact that we could call plays and strategize on a field, in a game, involving people quite captured my imagine. Many times during grade school classes and bullshit lectures, I'd find myself obsessing over designing elaborate plays. It got my head working, and working in a positive way I think. Street Football theory was amazing to me.

Now, in reality, it was rare that an elaborate play call lead to an easy touchdown. In most cases, my team mates were confused (not the defense), didn't care, or I didn't explain it well to them. Many times they'd lead to turnovers or hi jinx.

In conclusion, Street Football and other sports provided an escape from much of the bullshit that went on and I get a little sad that I just don't see pick-up games as much anymore. I would really get lost in such competition. Aside from the fun of designing football plays, there were fights, name calling, taunting, arguments, mom insults and all of this beautiful tension that seemed to make many of us a lot tougher. I received some of it (I was a skinny kid), everybody did. And nobody whined to their god damned parents and cops didn't bother us.

Those days are gone, new memories are being created but not on the makeshift concrete gridiron.

Dear Lord, save us from this generation of sissies.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ed Emberley

The first thing I can remember being obsessed with, or caught up in, was drawing. There was a nice public library, the first one I remember going to, and despite it's statist sterile institutional vibe, it did have a kid's section that my mother directed me towards. I must have been four or five. There was a rack on the wall with these very thin drawing books.

Up until then I was just making things up in my head, or drawing how I thought things looked like. And, there's nothing wrong with that. But these drawing books, hanging on the wall seemed to grab me and I couldn't put them down. These were, of course, drawing books by Ed Emberely. I had that name in my mind for awhile and his drawing instructions were always being looked at. More importantly, he had a book devoted to trains and trucks which I needed to have, and I got it. (I had a train obsession).

The illustrations seemed to be designed/created for kids that age. They were quite minimal, reducing everything to shape and line (no shading). Everything was put in a step by step way, which at times, I struggled to follow, cause I wanted to get to the end, right away, asap. The beautiful thing about this was you could see the process, and you could see it build. These books kept me busy for house.

I went through many of his books, I remember getting a purple one for my birthday, or Christmas. Jumping from section to section, learning how to draw pirates and ships and vampires. It was empowering in a way, to have these books and feel as though you could draw anything you needed, on the spot, just following the instructions. I liked that.

I eventually moved on from the simplicity of that type of style, and going to other sources (it ran its course), but it served as a good starting point and a lesson in following detailed instructions. I could take these little books and spend hours at the kitchen table drawing trains and faces and trucks.
There was no need to ask anyone for help, it was all in the book.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I'm Okay with Obama's Assasination Policy on US Citizens

Read this if you're unaware:

Maybe we shouldn't care. Maybe it's about time. We've been doing this abroad for so many years now and nobody seems to care. Anyone suggesting our foreign policy is a bit messed up is considered a nut. Few Americans have the brain power to imagine if the tables were turned and if other countries, say China, did the same things to us, that we do in the Middle East.

Americans, even bleeding heart/sensitive lefties, seem to be quite silent when it comes to these things, due to blind party loyalty (as if it were infallible religion). Consistency/objectivity seems to be tossed out the window in favor of a lust for power and entitlement ("we want our stuffs"). That's what really matters in America. Violence is okay here.

If we dish it out, we should be able to take it. Right?

So, what would happen if a few Americans were assassinated (assuming the media would report it). The real threat to liberty might be exposed. Some of us soon might be able to understand a bit of violence others have been going through in far off places. It could possible bring people together who otherwise wouldn't be united.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Those 3 Words I Can't Say.

Okay, maybe I said them once to someone years ago, we won't speak of. Maybe I did. I can't remember and I was probably under the influence (probably covered in body sweat), it was late, and it was dark. If it happened. And I probably shouldn't have said that at that time. And, I did in fact end up taking them back, a couple years afterwards. Maybe for that brief instant I meant it, but at that I time I didn't seem to have control or understanding of what was going on. They were just words.

The point is, I have a block. Something won't allow me to speak them. I'm mid thirties and it's still literally painful for me to try to say them. Can't bring myself to it. I'm not even talking about romantic bullshit because I've successfully avoided that for years. I'm just talking about expressing that genuinely to people who have been tolerant enough to be around me, support me, and take care of me. It's no easy task and all of them have been graceful.

Understandably, most people don't want to hear it cause it makes everything weird and serious but it's probably the best thing you can tell someone. I don't like hearing those words being thrown at me. But there are people I literally owe those words too. And every time I get a chance I can't. I can say "thank you" quite easily, but that doesn't compare.

I need to get over this obstacle. I have a fear eventually some of these people will die not knowing my feelings. I need to force myself out of the comfort zone. Before it's too late.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Good Time Charlie

(What a weird expression.)

Maybe Charlie really knows what's going. He was probably hurt in the past, found it a drain, and decided to live life in a fun casual way. He realizes the fragility of relationships and wishes not to partake, for the deeper they grow, the greater chance of larger destruction. Not worth it. He just wants to free but not necessarily alone. Charlie has "no skin in the game."

He may have some mental quirks and at times be off putting to most of the civilized world but he keeps going, in search of a good time. No commitment. He doesn't want to harm himself seriously by partaking in big fun, but at the same time, he doesn't see himself going much past fifty years old, if that.

He's happy to be alive and delighted he didn't start a family because most of his offspring would probably be fucked in one or more ways, like he is. He doesn't want to have to deal or take care of that (he probably couldn't have a dog for more than three weeks). He's content in solitude and likes his bed best and sleep.

He was given a lot, which allows him a little security and more space to make semi-reckless decisions, but on the downside he isn't creating any wealth or a future, like most Americans. It's more of a "taking" approach, as opposed to "giving" or "building" or "creating."

He tries to be a help, in his own minor way, but generally his biggest concern is his own comfort and well-being and getting enough sleep - and he knows this. He has his bars/taverns and his group of people he can repeat obscene juvenile homo-erotic humor to on regular basis and this never seems to get old.

He knows himself well, and knows what he wants. Which is very little from anyone else.

Life can be hard, when you're livin easy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How does Yacht Rock make me feel.

Music is the ultimate tool to tinker with emotions and create the mood. Some people lift weights and train to metal music for added intensity. Coffee shops will sometimes play jazz to help relax everyone. Pornography will sometimes play music with tribal percussion and "raunchy funk" bass lines to make the situation even more sexual. If I happen to bring someone back to my place I usually Pandora some post-punk band before balls go completely to the wall (that "game on" moment - if you will - yeah, that rarely happens/life's hard). All it is is just notes n rhythms at various frequencies played with different instruments, together, in a pattern sort of. Right? I think.

Then one day a man stumbles upon the genre of Yacht Rock. Or, maybe you've heard since childhood, dismissed it like me, or even mocked it, only to give it a second look. A more open and non judgemental look, freely, allowing it to move you. What does it do? Why do I do I now have a Yachtrock section on my IPod? How did I get beyond the laughter and obvious insults?

Before I explain, I should probably tell uninformed people what Yacht Rock is. Here's how the describes it:

"Another name for the adult-contemporary musical movement in the late 1970's and the early 1980's. It was defined mostly by its smooth sound. Popular Yacht Rockers include: Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers, and Steely Dan."

Other names I might included would be Christopher Cross and Michael MacDonald (I know they mentioned DBros, but MM needs to be singled out). Youtube these bands/artists to get a good feel of exactly what I'm talking about.

So how does it make me feel? Let's list some emotional words/phrases that apply to how I feel when I listen to Yachtrock.

2)Refined and polished
3)Emotionally moved, but not overboard, in a rather controlled sense
5)Like I want to move a bit, but not much, again, stable enjoyment
6)Like management in a corporation
7)Like I should be wearing loafers without any socks, and dress in white
8)Free, but in the most responsible way, like I just left a church service
9)Cool but not rebellious, rather respectful
10)Clean, like washing your face.

Most people aren't looking to feel this way, but if you wish to share in these vibes, pop in "Sailing" by Christopher Cross, or, "I Keep Forgettn" by Mr. Michael MacDonald. Please list your own description of how Yacht Rock feels to you....and refer to my other blog post on the Top 10 Yacht Rock songs for more in depth descriptions of my personal favorite Yacht Rock songs.


Friday, February 1, 2013

For Dudes: The Importance of Glamour Shots

I think it's healthy for most males to go through, what some might call, a narcissistic phase. Most of the time this phase occurs after manhood has been full realized and confidence and comfort in one's own skin is achieved. One shouldn't be considered a Prima Donna for going through such a self absorbed period, instead, this energy should, and often times is, channelled through the fine tangible result of the glamour shot.

Because of the rigid gender distinctions we make in this most cold and cruel world, most people associate the "glamour shot" with women. This is wrong. Men can be just be as glamorous and full of their own looks, and this is not bad. Another common, yet false assumption is that one needs to shell out cash to a professional photographer for a good glamour shot. No need. Use your cell or ask your mother to take the picture.

I once had a friend from out of state,. This guy was no sissy. He had his mother take at least 20 photos of him in various poses. Some were shirtless, some were from the outdoors, but all of them possessed a certain narcissism and pride in appearance, along with some very serious, yet cheesy expressions, that moved me deeply.

My personal favorite expressions in glamour shots, and a technique I've used when posing includes the "eye roll/look to the heavens - as if I don't give a fuck and I'm above it all." I've done that many times and it works better with a cigarette or some sort of alcoholic beverage, conveying a reckless and whimsical sort of arrogance one can't help but love. The other popular one is of course the duckface. I can pull that off too, but not everyone can.

Sporting shades can add an element of mystery to the approach, maybe even distance. Each man has their own vibe in front of the camera. Take lots of pictures of yourself and find out which one is best for you. I literally have over 300 photos of myself on Facebook. This is healthy of course.

In closing, as we move deeper into an age of "notice me" and self importance, a guy needs to take the bull by the horns and embrace the glamour shot. Every man has their own style and it's up to him to find, work it, improve it, until it's pure gold. Never be afraid to take and show as many pictures of yourself as you possibly can. At all times.

After all, putting yourself out there like that shows a pride and confidence in who you are and how you look. God made everyone to be divas.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In Defense of the Friendzone.

It gets a bad rap. It's often associated with dorks. Maybe that's fair, I don't know, I haven't taken a poll. What I can say, is that I spent way more time there than anywhere else and it used to mess with my already beaten down self-esteem and perceptions of manhood (I'm also a dork). Years have passed and opinions have changed. You spend most of your time in mostly one mode, you get to understand it's benefits and blessings. There are many and hopefully I will convince you of that.

One common misnomer about those in the friendzone is that they don't get laid. This simply is not true (not getting into details). I would bet their sex lives, in many cases, are far more interesting and varied than those who are considered to be boyfriends. Again, I didn't take a poll, so I don't know for sure. It would just seem to make sense.

Liberty. Something I value more than anything. For me it means complete honesty, saying and doing what I want, complete openness. Unless one is perfect, or completely boring, I've found that there are lots of things girls just don't want to know about in your past. I was never a good liar and can't live in secret, I need to put it all on the table. For most, that's too much to deal with.

Along these lines, there is a serious commitment or obligation with those in the friendzone. You need not take care of a friend as you would your lover. People are burdens, a girl can be a drag, and in some cases a financial responsibility, which means less money for yourself to spend on booze or food or other treats. That's no good.

There are no expectations that go along with it either. Like consistent showering, meeting the person's lame family (only to be judged by them), keeping a job, and most importantly, compromising on places to eat. Friends understand friends, and in all healthy cases, respect an individuals free will - and, you really don't hear about it if you opt out of the plan and do your own thing. You're just not tied down.

So, every once in a while that girl comes around, your friend, who you'd like to sleep with, but haven't, and she rambles about her relationship problems. Instead of getting annoyed or angry with her stop and think. Think that that could be you tied down to her emotional drain. It could be you that she was bitching about. But instead, something inside, either fear or wisdom, made you not want to put the move on that hot mess. This is all okay - don't beat yourself up. Be happy you didn't because in doing so, you kept your life, your freedom, and your peace of mind - and probably sanity too.

What used to leave me depressed ten years ago or so, or even empty, for not doing anything and remaining in the friendzone, I now see as a blessing. Years have passed and many of these ladies have been through just a series of depressing, draining relationships that I get to hear about every now and a good friend. Or, even worse, they've started their own families with Mr. Boyfriend material (the chump you used to envy). Think now, you or I possibly could've been tied down to that shit, or worse yet, accidentally knocked them up. Then where would we be?

Life would be a lot worse. No doubt.

Embrace the Friendzone, it's your friend, not your enemy. Keep your dignity and peace of mind.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Things I Thew Tantrums over, as a Child.

Let's ignore the current tantrums that I've thrown. That's for another blog. Here's a list of some things I lost it over as an over-sensitive western PA youth. See if any of these relate to your childhood experiences.

1)A Wendy's burger with pickles, tomato and ketchup on it.
I liked my burgers relatively plain, I still do for the most part. My grandpa ordered me and brother hamburgers with everything on them. He thought he was doing us a favor. We freaked out. Literally. It was traumatic for everyone involved and we were rightly accused of being spoiled. This was probably around 5 or 6 years old.

2)My Hair
I was in kindergarten or 1st grade. You had to look good. The pressure was always. My hair wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. My mother tried helping me comb it. I got mad at her too. That combined with being late for school gave me serious anxiety. I ended up toughing out a bad hair day and probably forget about it as soon as I entered the school.

3)My first movie, Popeye
I was a Popeye nut. My dad used to tease me about it, and bro and sis stuck spinach in a hamburger of mine to mess with me. The movie was coming out and I had to see it. As we were getting ready I was hit with a serious panic attack as I had no idea what a movie was like. I was nervous, I thought the characters of the movie might walk into the crowd and meet me. I didn't want any part of it. Eventually with some slight encouragement and arm twisting, I made it. I all worked out okay.

4)Canned Green Beans
My greatest fear as a child where green beans from the can. They were a horrible texture and tasted awful. When they were served for dinner there was always a question of whether I'd be forced to eat them. They literally made me gag. I would sit at the table for hours. There were a few tantrums thrown over this situation. My dad had little patience for it.

By the time we entered grade school, there were bedtimes. I'd often have trouble falling asleep cause of anxiety and fear of not falling asleep. It got to the point where I'd stare at the red digital clock radio probably every 5 minutes. There were times when I just couldn't sleep and I'd be so frustrated I'd throw a tantrum. I've since learned to enjoy the night, and being tired in the morning isn't the end of the world.

6)Skating Party
I threw a tantrum at a school skating party cause all the kids were having fun and I was afraid to skate. I sat and cried most of the night. People asking me what was wrong made it all worse. The weird thing is, the skating party the year before, I had a good time going around. I guess it had to do with the vibe. Gawd I was a miserable child.

7)Getting Stung by a Hornet.
I was probably 4 or 5, enjoying a can or bottle of root beer, sitting on my dad's old wrecked Plymouth Fury(i think). My first encounter with the evils of nature. I got stung near the eye and ended up running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I was breathing heavily and freaking out. My mother called a hospital for help and made some weird baking soda concoction. I survived.

8)Swallowing Soap.
I was getting a bath around age 4 or 5 and it was bubble bath, and I swallowed soap. I freaked. I thought I was gonna die, I literally ran around the house buck naked like a crazy man. I think it was the taste of soap that wouldn't go away that made me lose it.

9)My first detention.
The idea of a detention in school seemed to be quite serious. Like the biggest thing ever. In reality, while my father (he was the one you feared) wanted good grades, I never saw him get upset over these detentions - which like these unspoken things in our household. What was really the big deal, an hour, or half after school. Not the end of the world. Anyway, I got written up for missing an assignment, and I started crying like a baby. I obviously didn't appear as tough as I thought I was, or pretended to be. It's funny how a silly punishment can totally change a boy's vibe.

10)Basketball Practice - suicides
I maintain making the basketball team in 4th was hardest thing I've worked at or tried for in my life. Really. No joke. Lots of my friends got cut, I made it(this was pre-leg problems). During a weeknight practice, we were asked, or forced to do suicides...Or sprints (length of the court). Maybe like five or six times in a row running as fast as we could. This was before I had limits. This was before I was lazy. I really hustled my ass out there.
After the last sprint we were called into a circle and I was hyperventilating. I couldn't stop. This was like minutes, it seemed like an eternity. This led to panic. It made me think I had asthma. My throat was dry and I thought I was gonna die.
A heavy breathing/hyperventilating tantrum occurred. I had to be taken aside and walked into the locker room by the assistant coach. Eventually, everything subsided, I was able to calm down. I think I left practice early that day.

11)First Little League Loss
I was used to winning on the Sacred Heart Colts. My first real taste of team sports. When we were served our very first loss of the season, I broke down and cried, like a baby. Not sure why. I didn't care about T-ball that much, a year before. This was somehow different. Everybody needs to lose at something. It builds character.

Friday, January 25, 2013

What Was So Great About the Brady Bunch

The first sit-com I remember being totally drawn into, maybe even mesmerised by, was the Brady Bunch. I was born in 76, so they were airing re-runs around the time I was four or five. I remember them briefly taking it off the air in our local area, and I was sad. It came back on a few years later and was on, on some channel, quite often from the 80s into the 90s, as re-runs. Why can I always sit through this show, and not get bored, and still laugh at the same dumb shit? Eight or nine times over. What did it have? Why is it great? Special?

The Aesthetics
The show started in the late 60s through the 70s, providing for some intense visual stimulation. I think the first thing you're in awe of is that sweet house. Mike Brady took a modern approach to the design of home, and it just seems like a lovely spacious, yet warm, place to be. The colors in the kitchen are fantastic and the staircase is just "sick." Don't even get me started on Michael Brady's den. Every child fantasized about having a workspace like that when they become professionals. Well done Mr. Brady.

I could go on and speak volumes on the other obvious, the clothing. What we thought was silly in the 80s, as we viewed the reruns, was actually pretty sharp. They pushed the envelope, okay, maybe not for the time period, but it's still an element that drew us in and worked well with the backdrop of the house. Seriously speaking, Greg Brady has some pretty cool sweaters and shirts that I would have no problem wearing today.

How about the beginning? The song, with all the blocks with their heads in it. We've seen it so often it means nothing, but think back and remember how happy you were when that intro started and Mike and Carol's mugs appeared in the in the box with the light blue background, and everything built up, simply and clearly explaining the whole premise of the show, in under a minute, in a fun, catchy and possibly an original way. (I'm smiling as I type this, just thinking about my own joy at the intro song).

Music was kind of a large part of this brilliant program. We just stated the catchy intro theme, but there were three whole episodes devoted or featuring the Brady's performing music, and another episode with Davey Jones. Those were always my favorites. I own a Brady Bunch CD and it's pretty damn solid, with a great, fun studio band with great grooves, percussion, horns, and happiness. The Brady band was good and need not be laughed at or mocked. Of course they were produced, but their producers had taste and a sense of silliness that shows through on the Album or on the various episodes. Nice work. And Greg Brady has a good voice. He need not be mocked either.

So, yes, we've established the Brady Bunch band was outstanding, but there was other music on the show, on every show, and in many or most situations. We call this the background music. This program had the best ambient music ever, perfectly appropriate for every scene. I specifically remember the noise for when Bobby kisses his first girl and the fireworks go off. We tried to imitate that sound in grade school. I can't put it into words, maybe awkward. I believe the credit goes to Mr. Frank DeVol for scoring the background sounds. Thank you sir. Exceptional work.

The Characters
I was always able to feel connected to each and every character on that show to the extent I really thought I knew them and even wanted to hang with them in real life. What I would also do is relate my own family members to characters on the show. I saw a bit of my father, in Mr. Brady, I saw both Alice and Carol in my mother, my older brother was named Greg and there were similarities there too. I could see a bit of Marcia in my older sister. We used to refer to my younger brother as Cindy Brady cause he told on somebody once, and there was an episode where Cindy was a tattle tale. Great choices for the Brady kids. While they weren't superstar actors and actresses, I can't imagine anyone else taking their place.

The Plots
Some of the story lines were just ridiculous. As stated previously, the music episodes were my favorite, particularly the Johnny Bravo episode, but there were other awesome shows and scenarios. Marcia getting hit with football and breaking her nose, the football playbook being stolen, the haunted house, Buddy Hinton, the Grand Canyon and Hawaii special episodes and it goes on. There was always a lesson to be learned; an ethics or morality of sorts that we can all respect and try to live by. Mr. Brady was probably the perfect TV father, instilling a work ethic/self discipline/kindness on his children, while being loose enough to understand the changing times and styles. The guy got a perm for god sakes. Another fascinating layer to the show was, that you can see them having early issues when the families first get together (first season), but, as the show progresses, they come together as one family. If you haven't seen this, compare some of the first shows, with other ones from seasons three or four. They grow together, and we grow with them.

So I think the unity of the aesthetics, sound, characters and plot all work together to provide this distinct and unique television show that was on for eight seasons and never won an award. Sometimes the experts are wrong and sometimes it's all about the heart. How something makes you feel inside. And for television shows, I can't think of anything that both makes me laugh, and feel warm all over.

It wasn't a perfect show. Nobody would ever claim that. Some of the later episodes were not up to par and Robert Reid (Mr. Brady) was known to get into arguments with Sherwood Schwartz (creator) over the integrity of the show in the later or last season. I'll give them a pass on that, as they've given me a sense of morality, warmth, smiles and giggles, and maybe love too.

The Brady's will always be timeless to me. In my heart, I will always consider myself, half Brady. Can anyone else say this much about any other commercial 30-minute television program?