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.