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Why Being Late for a Wedding Can be a Good Thing

There was that air of tension for a brief second where I knew, before she even said it, that we were going to have to turn around.

My wife Ang and I were on our way to my Cousin Jaime’s wedding in Maine this past weekend.  I’d been at a training school for work all week and on Friday after school we took off to Maine.  Everything was fine.

But sometime during the night, when the temperatures in Southern Maine dropped down below zero, Ang’s Prius decided to do what any wild beast would do in those temperatures a have a fucking stroke.  The next morning, the (thankfully) less expensive of the two Prius’s batteries had shit the bed.  We found this out half-way to the wedding.

First off, a compliant:  Who the hell has a late-morning wedding?  When I woke up that morning, obviously not knowing what time the wedding was, I called Jaime’s father Uncle John (she probably refers to him as “dad” but…) to ask what time the wedding was.  I was shocked that at 9 in the morning he told me it was at “eleven, but you might want to get there at 1030ish”.  Damnit!

So we rushed, got showered and dressed at my mom’s house a few towns over and took off.  We were halfway there when I realized I didn’t have any dashboard read out.

If you’ve never piloted a Prius before, it’s all digital read outs on the dash.  No dials.  At first I thought I had the little dimmer switch turned down for some reason, but that wasn’t it.  Then I thought it might’ve been an optical illusion produced by my polarized sunglasses and the sun or something, and when I pulled my shades down, all I saw was black.

The car was still running though, and we pulled over to the side of Main Street to see if it was something we could fix if we just turned the car off and back on again.  I pushed the ignition button and got no response.  Queue panic from my wife.

God bless her, but if anything happens to her car she wigs out.  So now it’s all tense, we need to be at this wedding, very little time to spare and Ang says “turn back to your mother’s.”

Fuck!

We get back and, knowing nothing about cars, let alone Hybrids, I start googling “Prius + Problems + Cold Weather” and get a bunch of Toyota forums about people in high altitude/cold weather areas having significant ignition and battery problems with their Priuses(i?)

Ang takes the more direct approach and calls the dealership from where she bought the car directly.  After a few minutes of on-the-phone diagnostics, we discover that one of the two batteries the Prius runs on is likely dead or close to it.  We need to get to a dealership, stat, to replace said battery.

So about ten minutes going the opposite direction, we get to a dealership and all is taken care of.  By the time we’re back on the road, the ceremony is definitely over.  We can still make the reception, which I guess is at the same place as the wedding.

At this point, I should tell you about the funny feeling I get when I have to deal with my extended family.

Things have always been a little awkward with my dad’s side of the family, even from when I was a kid.  I don’t really understand why this is, and I simply accept it.  The family is large and I hardly know any of my relatives except the “cool ones” who have achieved this status either by showing some signs of kindness towards me or just by giving me butt-loads of cash during the holidays.  Whenever I come around, I feel like I have nothing to say, and things suddenly become very awkward.  Instantly, the tough-talking, ass-kicking, moderately successful man with the swagger of a guy who gets paid to knock people out is diminished to that clumsy, mush-mouthed 13 year old from fifteen years ago any time my Aunt Peggy comes around.  I can’t explain it.

We pull up to the reception hall and I’m instantly relieved that I listened to my wife’s advice and didn’t wear my three piece suit to this thing, and instead opted for a cashmere sweater and slacks: nearly everyone was in denim and sweatshirts, save a few adults who managed to put on some business-casual button-down shirts.  The only ties were being worn by members of the groom’s wedding party; they were dressed in rental black and red three pieces and looked more Ska band than Groomsmen.

Likewise, bridesmaids were dressed in some sort of Katy Perry-like tube dresses and black lace fingerless gloves with red lace accents.  My cousin did look gorgeous in her white wedding gown, complete with a pair of black and white Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Oh yeah, and everyone was shitfaced.

As soon as we walked in, I was greeted by the bulk of my extended family.  Hugs were had all around, our gift was taken from us, and slowly, like a spreading pool of blood, the awkwardness set in.

First I had to apologize about a million times for being late.  Next I had to explain why I was wearing hiking boots and not decent shoes (I had forgot to pack them) when nearly everyone else was in loafers at best, gym shoes at worst.  To compound things, the inevitably and albeit obligatory questions about my mother and father started to surface:

“Is your mom going to make it?”

“How’s your father?”

“What’s going on with them?”

These weren’t the usual questions asked out of absenteeism.  No, they knew exactly what’s going on with my mother and father and the nasty separation/divorce.  The know all about my father’s self-exile to some remote campground out in NH and my mother’s slipping sanity.  They just wanted the gossip.

“Oh, I see your mother all the time at the Shaw’s” one of my aunt’s said.  “Awesome?”  I say in return.  I mean, what else can I say?   Then Jaime finally made her way over.

Blitzed, she punched me in the chest and with thick tongue said “you missed the wedding, ass.”  I felt about >< this tall.

To make matters worse, her younger brother Josh, whom I haven’t seen in YEARS swings by and gives me a hug.  I don’t recognize him and it’s not until later that Ang points him out to me.  Again, I feel about as tall as my boot laces.

We eventually sit with a pair of watered down beers at a table away from my family.  Joining us is a remote friend of Jaime’s whom she used to work with, and her husband Greg.  The woman (I can’t remember her name) came across like Sarah Palin (she disclosed that she went as Palin for Halloween this past year) only drunk.  Both couples had a lot in common and I could see Ang and I becoming this couple in roughly five years.  I kinda wish now I had gotten their contact info.  They were cool.

After nursing our one beer each (we had no cash for tipping at the open bar, and I felt like a shitheel for not tipping on the two watered down Natty-Ice’s) and eating some finger food, we left, promising we’d see everyone at the “after-party.”  Obviously, we didn’t intend to be at the after party.

The more distance I put us between my family the better I felt.  I knew the night before this wedding wasn’t something I wanted to really be a part of, but out of love for my cousin, who I treat more like a distant sister, I manned up.  For forty minutes.

In the end, being late for the wedding should’ve come across as some sort of omen; being late should’ve told us to phone it in, send out the gift via certified first class mail and send a heart-felt apology letter.  It would’ve been easier on my psyche.

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January 31, 2010 Posted by | Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Highway to Hell

If such a crayon existed called “Surprised” you could take it out of the box, stick it into that sharpener on the backside, and then color me with it once I found out that my commute didn’t make the top 75 Worst Commutes in America, according to The Daily Beast

Of course, anyone and everyone who commutes to and from work tends to think theirs is the worst commute imaginable.  That is, unless of course you either A) are flown by private jet everywhere you go, or B) move through a secret tunnel system, utilizing not-yet-known underground tube technology ala Dick Cheney.

It’s relative, is what I’m saying.

But my commute, in all honesty, is balls.  First, if you take a look at the list, there’s some real imaginable nightmares in the top few.  I’ve been on the Hollywood Freeway out in LA and I recognize a total clusterfuck when I see one, as well as the SE X’way just outside of Boston (one of two systems that got mentioned on the list which were from New England, the other being in RI).  Boston, famous for it’s ‘Big Dig’ from the 70s through the 90s, is well known to be a maze of on and off ramps, ever changing exit numbers, and confusing instructions for your exit mounted on overhead signage planted a mere 400 meters from the exit in question.

But the point I want to make here is that RT 6 on Cape Cod should’ve made this list of the top 75.  If you’ve never had the joy (read: bleeding face-feeling) of having to navigate the main artery of Cape Cod let me break it down for you:

There’s only three real ways to get from point A to B on Cape Cod: US RT 6, 6A (which is the old RT 6) and RT 28.  Route 6 is the traditional highway which in places splits into four lanes (two each way) but for the most part is two lanes (one each way) divided by some pithy plastic sticks.  Route 6 is so nicknamed “Suicide Alley” by the people who are forced to use it on a daily basis, because of the high average of fatalities found on it.  Read the local paper and you’ll see that at least once a day there’s a major crash in or around RT 6.

6A and 28 are clogged, serpentine alternatives lined with shops, stores and in the case of Dennisport, a small village along the southern mid-coast of Cape Cod; a dilapidated shantytown of boarded up stores and child molesters.  In the summers, these two routes are largely parking lot death traps as you’ll be cruising at 40 mph and be forced to slam on your breaks as the doofus with Jersey tags in front of you is stopping suddenly to pull into one of the ten thousand fried seafood and soft serve ice cream stands you’ll find littered up and down both routes.

Fall provides a slight reprieve from the summer time buffoonery of the Off-Codders and tourists who flood the main corridor trying to get to beaches and t shirt stores and otherwise clog up your commute.  However, like a stay of execution, the reprieve is short lived because when the foliage starts to change from the lush greens to the brake light red, traffic cone orange and construction worker vest yellow of the Fall season, the cars with the funny license plates return to make a ten minute drive across town into a half hour mind bender where thoughts from homicide to suicide race through a motorists head.

Winter is no picnic either, as Massachusetts as a whole refuses to salt their roadways, and instead use sand which contain fist-sized boulders within.  As you drive thirty or forty feet behind someone, expect to see cracks and pits in your windshield developing as rocks pelt your vehicle like small arms fire in the narrow streets of Baghdad.

Also, they don’t really “plow” on Cape.  They kinda “scrape” the top layer of shit off the roadways, leaving this packed bullshit snow over the roads which are completely impassable in anything less than four wheel drive/tank treads.

When the roads are clear, unless you’re driving really early in the morning (this is me, fortunately, on my way into my office) or really late at night, expect to be caught behind some nutsack holding the throttle steady at exactly five miles under the speed limit for the next twenty miles.  This ballbag will be utterly oblivious to the growing train of cars piloted by pissed off denizens of Cape Cod forming behind him/her, and will refuse to pull over to the side to let people by.  And forget waiting to pass them on a broken yellow line, as every opportunity to do so will be thwarted by on-coming traffic.

This, and the fact that drivers on Cape Cod have a habit of not paying attention to dick, is why I got rid of my motorcycle last Fall.

According to Google, I live 38 minutes from my office.  I suspect Google Maps gets that number assuming I’m doing about 50 mph and sprinkling in the occasional stop sign or red light.  In relation to this information, it’s not entirely inaccurate for this time of year.  Though, come summer time, I can expect my commute, mid-day (when I’d normally be coming home) to be triple to quadruple that amount of time, just based off of the congestion of traffic alone.  If there’s some asinine parade going on in town or the Fourth of July weekend, I can expect to get home faster if I hoof it.

And out of everyone at my office, I live third closest… we’ve got guys who travel from well over 100 miles away who work here.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About | , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: New Year’s Edition

Comcast, again:

Honestly, their website sucks.  I’m actually finding this more often than not:  Companies will hand the reigns over to some third-party website people who take all the stress of maintaining a reliable website off the hands of the company, and in turn, make things absolutely hellish on customers.

To wit:  I’m trying to pay all my bills (online of course, …I haven’t bought a book of stamps since like, 1996) and when I get to Comcast’s site from clicking the link in the email, it brings me to the log-on screen I’m familiar with.  I pump in my info, and then I’m brought to another log-on on screen.

This log-on screen tells me that I’m logging into ‘My Sign-In’ which will keep me logged into “all of Comcasts other great sites!”, what these are I have no clue, but apparently my log-in information is still the same, so I pump it in AGAIN, and am brought to a screen that tells me “account cannot be access because user has failed to make account secure.”

Ooohkay…. what?

I’ve been an unfortunate subscriber to Comcast for over two years now, and I think they’re giving me a heart attack on purpose.  It seems that any time I alter my service just a little bit, all sorts of wild shit gets fucked up days or even weeks later.  You’d think a company as big as Comcast (they just BOUGHT NBC from General Electric for chrissakes,) would have their shit together enough so where a customer like myself logs in, all their information would be right there in front of them, and not be led about the nose through a maze of log-in screens only to find out that for some reason they don’t have your account information.

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to GIVE money to some one or service, and not be able to do so.  I wish I could just not pay it, and be like “fuck you and your website,” but then they’d just shut our shit down.

By the way, from all the button clicking and navigating around that site, there appears to be no way to confirm or “secure” the account, resulting in my having to call them eventually later today.  Great, now I get to spend half an hour later today dealing with some prick on the phone just to give them 150 bucks.

I still don’t understand why I don’t just cancel my account and live without all this bullshit.

Other Movie-Goers:

Last night, in celebration of our one year anniversary, Ang and I went out to the local theatre to see “Sherlock Holmes.”  We never go to the movies, which was puzzling to me until last night.

I forgot about how when you go out to the movies, usually there’s going to be other people there, and these people are usually not very considerate of other movie goers.

I’m one of those types of people who like to get to the theatre a little early, get soda and popcorn, get good seats, and have the conversation while the stupid movie trivia is playing on the screen.  If you haven’t figured out by now from reading all my blogs, I’m sort’ve anal-retentive about shit.  I like to be comfortable long before the movie or even the previews start.

So imagine the bullshit rage I flip into when people show up late, stumbling through the dark after the house lights have dropped and there’s shit on the screen.  Imagine me going for my pistol when those asshole make a a bee-line for the seats directly behind us, and then engage in some stupid conversation.

It started off brilliantly: we arrived ten minutes early, got our snacks out, settled in.  There were only two or three other couples and everyone was spread out.  We had seats on the left hand side, back-middle, where we’d be able to take in the whole screen without being overwhelmed.

Then this family of five came in, two adults three children, all of them yapping.  Nothing had started yet, so it wasn’t a big deal, but they sat directly across the aisle from us.  Aggravation level is at about a 3.

The lights drop, more people shuffle in under the wire, aggravation level rising to 5, like, come on people, get it together.

Then, at the start of the “Iron Man 2” trailer, these three girls show up, late teens, early 20s, and sit DIRECTLY BEHIND US, put their feet up, and start fucking talking about whatever conversation they had started in the parking lot outside.  Aggravation level now around an 8.

We get up and move, making a big deal about it.  I’m wearing a mohawk and skinny jeans, and want to say some shit to these people like a skanky punk would, but I don’t, I just show them my ass as we shuffle out of the seats.  We take seats further down and on the right hand side of the aisle, slightly too close to the screen, so I’m craning my neck up, being bombarded by all the wild shit going on on the screen.  Aggravation level at critical.

In my heart of hearts I wish I had a plank of wood with nails in the end of it to brandish at idiots.  Maybe a cricket bat or something.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sins of a Dog Owner

It’s Xmas morning when the following takes place:

It was roughly like 0930 and the wife and I had opened all our gifts, put coffee on, and were in this post-Xmas morning glow.  That kinda awe when you realize that the other person got you way too much awesome shit.  It was during this period when I decided it would be a good idea to take the dog for a quick walk.

The schedule we keep Ivy, our yellow lab, is in two parts:  She’ll get me up between 0600 and 0700 to be let out to pee and eat breakfast.  While this is going on, I’ll feed the ferrets and get my bearings.  I’ll work for a bit, either in my office or in front of the tv and usually by 0900-1000 she’ll want to go outside again to take a big shit.

Since living at our last place, I’ve neglected to put Ivy on a leash.  I hate leashes, I think they’re a pain in the ass.  Ivy isn’t the type of dog that ‘walks you’ instead of you walking her, but she does tend to dawdle at every piss-soaked piece of sidewalk between here and where ever we’re going, which sucks when it’s below 30 degrees outside.  Without the leash, I can keep walking forward (and keep warm) and she’ll usually catch up once I’ve gone maybe fifty feet ahead.

This is also ideal for when Ang and I go hiking.  Ivy can sniff whatever she wants and we can keep up our pace.  We seldom run into other dogs on the trails, but if we do, usually they’re unleashed too, and never does anything negative or “bad” happen.

So where we moved to, we’re a bit out of the way in a sleepy neighborhood at the end of a cul de sac.  We have a front yard and a long dirt driveway and 4/5s the time, Ivy’s really good about staying within those confines.  But lately, she’s taking her liberty too far.

I would let her out but stand by the door “just in case” she decided to follow a scent too far into the woods around our house.  Many times I’ve been putting on a sweater and slipping into my boat shoes after waiting for up to ten minutes by the door (which is my self-imposed time limit) to hear her jingling collar coming up the driveway through the darkness.  Where she went, who knows, but at least she came back.  This is definitely problematic.

So back to what I was talking about on Xmas morning.  I again, forgo a leash because I figure we’re gonna go out, come back, all within like ten minutes.  None of the few neighbors I have would likely be out and Ivy can run around in the snow drifts, do her dirty business, and we can get back to play with all the shit I got for Xmas within those ten minutes.

Of course when we get to the end of the driveway, the old miserable lonely cunt next door is out there with her 400 lb German Shepherd, a dog that needs to be groomed worse than Joaquin Phoenix’s face.

Obviously I don’t like the woman.  I’ve had minor interactions with her before and she’s awkward and annoying.  She’s preachy like an old spinster would be.  She keeps her equally long driveway entrance blocked by parking her Buick right at the end of it.  Her giant Shep is aggressive, but leashed.

So as we come around the bend in our driveway, of course Ivy see’s him.

She doesn’t have issues with other dogs, usually.  Usually she just ignores them.  But this other dog starts yanking on his leash and barking.  And being that I have Ivy off of a leash, I kinda trot up along side her to grab her collar in case she decides to go bluddy loony tunes all of a sudden.

I greet the woman with a hearty “merry xmas” and she says nothing.  Her dog is barking and freaking the fuck out.  I bring Ivy close so they can sniff each other in the hopes the dog relaxes and we can all move on.  Instead of saying “merry xmas” back or even “good morning” she says in this bitchy tone:  “Don’t you have a leash.”

Notice no “?”.  She spoke it like a comment or an order.  I try to play the role of a plaintive dog owner and instead of going into a big long thing about my personal belief’s regarding leashes, I just say “ah, yeah, but I couldn’t find it and she had to go,” and to this the woman says “you know, ___________ (our town) has leash laws, you could get fined and your dog could get taken away by animal control.”

That last bit, to me, sounded like a fucking threat.  I smile, wish her a merry xmas again, and pull Ivy away up the street so she can do her business, literally putting this miserable woman behind us.

The next thing is that Ivy typically doesn’t just shit “anywhere.”  She goes out of her way to find someplace where people typically won’t walk.  Although this might be on someone else’s property, it’s practically never on their front lawn or driveway, but more along the sides of the property, in a tree line or in some bushes.  I have no personal hang ups about this at all.

So as Ivy bounded into someone’s yard to sniff out a patch to poop on, this woman comes around the corner with her shepherd.  She’s looking at me, and then looks over at Ivy, who’s in a squatting position, right on this neighbor’s front lawn.  She couldn’t have picked a worse time to deviate from her normal pooping procedures.

I smile some dumb smile, shrugging my shoulders as if to say “what can you do” and fully prepare myself to get a tongue-lashing from this woman at best, and and at worse, the cops called on me.

“That’s not right,” she says to me.  I have to agree.  Ivy finishes, shakes, and comes trotting back to me.  We leave.

“You’re not going to pick it up?!”  She calls after us.

My number one sin as a dog owner is that I’m not a poop picker-upper.  We don’t live in a built up area, Ivy doesn’t shit where people would normally walk.  Even though this particular time she shat right in someone’s front lawn, there was snow covering every thing and the shit would be gone within 24 hours, I’m sure.  I’m not one of those people who carry little baggies with them where ever they go just to bend over and carry dog shit with them until they find a receptacle.  Sorry, I won’t do it.

If that makes me a bad dog owner, then fine, whatever.  But I’m not mistreating my dog, I’m mistreating the people who live around us, there’s a difference.  As someone once said: the more time I spend with my dog, the less I like people.

Or something like that.

December 29, 2009 Posted by | Out and About, People I Hate, Puppy Tales | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fat Lil’ Fucker

Lately, I can’t really comment on health and fitness.  The holidays are rough even on the most ultra-religious Nazi fitness fanatic.  Every where you turn there’s home-baked this, chocolate-dipped that.  Hell, just the other night, Ang and I made like 50 M&M cookies to bring into my work (full disclosure, I didn’t know I was supposed to leave some behind, naturally, I got an earful of this all week).

So I haven’t exactly been on my game.  As I was wrapping up work this past week in anticipation of my holiday vacation, I wasn’t really able to get over to the gym as much, if at all.  I feel lethargic and weak.

To help combat this, however, Ang and I have been doing hikes out in Nickerson State Park, with loaded packs on our backs.  These aren’t grueling hikes up the sides of mountains by any means, but at least it’s SOMETHING.

***

So last night I was in the local Shaw’s, getting some quick stuff for a carb-y meal of chicken parm; chicken breasts, angel hair pasta, sauce, the whole bit.  I get to the check out and I’m standing behind this guy and his 12 year old kid.  At first glance this kid looks hypoglycemic, badly stretched skin, yellow in color, eyes are simply dark colored dots poked into the middle of his face.  There’s one of those little dividers between his dad’s groceries and what appears to be the kid’s own purchase:  a small mountain of candy.

I’m not talking about a couple snickers bars and a thing of M&Ms, I’m talking about the hardcore candy, that stuff in the red packaging that’s glistening in sugar: gummy worms, sour patch kids, swedish fish, etc.  The stuff goes for a dollar a pack I believe, and in the end, this kid was buying over 15 dollars worth of the stuff.

In the mix as well, a few packs of gum, you know, because he needs something to do with his mouth between stuffing handfuls of confectionary into it.

I looked at the dad, who was non-pulsed by the scenario.  And that scenario was this:  The kid probably managed to roll off of his fat ass long enough to clean his room, and daddy threw him a Jackson as a reward with the promise that he could spend it on whatever he wanted.  Obviously dad must’ve seen the inevitable purchase of weapons-grade candy, because he was cool as shit about the purchase.

Literally, as soon as he finished paying for a bunch of small groceries (which I would’ve loved to have seen) his kid stepped up and paid for the candy with his own wad of greasy ones.  I must’ve had a horrified look on my face because the cashier glanced at me, then the dad before taking the kid’s money.

I felt like I had to be a responsible adult.  I felt like I had to say something to this father, that he was allowing his kid to kill himself.  To me, this was no worse than allowing your kid to buy a 30 rack of Ice House and pound the whole case down before heading out to school.

How was the father allowing the kid to get this out of control? Where was the authority?  I mean, easily, had it been my little butterball and he started grabbing up bags of candy with his little Vienna Sausage fingers I would’ve slapped that shit out of his hands real quick.

“No!” I would’ve yelled.  “No fucking way, no, if that’s how you’re going to blow your wad, then obviously you don’t deserve this money,” and yoink, there goes his allowance.

The whole scenario was so outrageously irresponsible.  Giving a kid money, allowing him to make a poor purchasing decision with no immediate repercussions, as well as allowing the kid to consume easily 200 times his daily allotment of sugars in one sitting reminded me of how, as a nation don’t deserve a public health option.

How hard would it to have been to be the dad and be like “no, you’re not buying that” or even “ok, you can buy candy, but how about you pick one of those bags and put the rest back.”?

No, instead dad is setting his kid up for failure.  At this rate he’ll be a diabetic by 22, his teeth will have rotted out by 28, he’ll have complications from all his medical issues by 35, and likely be in the grave by 60.  And by the looks of things, this isn’t just a snapshot judgement; the kid probably weighed around 140 and couldn’t have even been in his teens yet.

***

Did I end up saying anything?  No.  I knew that it would just create trouble, an awkwardness in the Shaw’s that would likely get me banned for life.  I kept looking at the dad, the cashier, the kid and then down at my own food in utter disbelief.  At one point my mouth opened to be like “hey…” but I knew I’d be swinging at a bad pitch, so I just clamped it and watched father and son waddle off like two human peanut M&Ms.

As my wife said after I told her the whole story when I got home “James, there’s nothing you can do – you probably would’ve gotten punched out by the dad.  Think of it like this:  That kid will be dead in a few decades, and there will be more air for us to breathe.”

December 17, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, People I Hate, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TidBits: Your Online Newspaper Sucks.

In this issue of TidBits I focus the topics on various online newspapers, oppose to being all over the road, like I usually am.  Enjoy:

 

Huffington Post: I was first introduced to HuffPo back during the 2008 elections, because they seemed to have a more indepth (and far more liberally slanted) reporting on the campaigns than the New York Times did.  This is because unlike The Times, HuffPo is a fucking tabloid.  A tabloid, not in the sense of layout, but a tabloid in the sense that everything they publish is utter garbage and a glorification of shock-media.

Go to their site and likely on the front page “above the fold” you’ll find some colorful headline, with shocking allegations/implications/ramifications.  I’m sure today, 20NOV09, it’ll be something like “OPRAH QUITS!” or “GOLDMAN SACHS QUITS!” You get the idea.  The only people that should be quitting Huffington Post though are us.  Really, stop reading this trash.

Below that, you’ll likely find a headline involving a mass shooting, police dash board video of a 1oo mph car crash, or kittens.

The only real redeeming aspect of Huffington Post is it’s ‘Entertainment’ section, where on occasion they’ll post NSFW photos of quasi-famous people from European magazines.  If not for this section, I’d never known that Lady GaGa has pancake titties.

That being said, the Entertainment Section is rife with even more shit I don’t care about, to wit: Amy Winehouse BACK in rehab.  Lindsay Lohan looks strung out and too-skinny.  Some European model is doing coke on a yacht in the Mediterranean.  Levi Johnston’s cock is out for everyone to see, etc etc.

The worst crime perpetrated by Huffington Post, by far, is it’s line up of guest bloggers.  It seems that anyone under the sun, myself likely included, can submit their blogs and they’ll run on HuffPo.  A lot of these blogs are maybe 400 words in length, baseless, whiny, complainy, and ultra liberal.  And when you sprinkle into the mix CELEBRITIES, well, hold me down Jethro, let me beat feet over and see what the likes of Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and fucking-a-christ Fitty Cent have to say about topics including and not limited to: The Environment, television, and polar bears.

We all know that if you give a celebrity of any size caliber a mouth piece they will talk non-stop on subjects they know little about.  They will regurgitate talking points garnered at parties and shit they heard on Keith Olberman two nights ago.  They then turn around and fill up space on Huffington Post with the same shit, so that simple-minded office drones (like myself) stuck in front of a computer all day, will read that shit and puke it back up during a conversation with our spouses, co-workers and mistresses.

JUST BECAUSE GEORGE CLOONEY SAID SOMETHING, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S RIGHT!  He’s a handsome man, no doubt, but that doesn’t make him Jesus.

Slate: Slate strikes me as the type of online magazine that only people who want to pretend they care about important shit read.  If you scan over it’s front page there’s a splash of multiple graphic-headlines along with a side bar that represents the latest stories to appear on Slate, called “The Slatest” which is fucking cute.

Scrolling over the tops of the subject columns, you get drop down menus from the latest articles being written in each subject matter.  What really catches my eye are the “explainer” articles, where someone asks a question regarding current events (my favorite so far has been “What makes a gun a ‘cop-killer’ gun?” to which I would’ve simply answered: “It’s ability to function, now go back to pulling the curlers out of your hair, Maud.”).  I like these because it allows me to peer into the psyche of my fellow readers, and see exactly how shallow it can be.

Who gives a rat’s ass about “Which Way is Best for a ‘Twilight’ Vampire to Drink Blood’ or “What Makes a Prison State-of-the-Art?”  I have answers to both:  Through a straw and Rape Whistles, that’s what.

I think my biggest hangup with Slate is it’s over all redundancy.  On their front page alone, I can access the same article five different ways, six if it’s still listed on the “Slatest” side bar.  This only reeks of lack of content, which is why I normally only pump my brakes here once a day.

If it wasn’t for Farhad Manjoo, I would likely take Slate off my bookmarks.

Cape Cod Times: I don’t want to make this personal, I really don’t.  That would hurt my objectivity as well as credibility, but seriously you fucks, that sunrise submission I sent in was TIGHT.  And when you compare it to the other crap that was submitted, it makes me feel like someone down in whatever basement at the CCT has been busy jacking off all over everyone’s mail.

Here’s the back story:  The CCT asked for reader submissions of photos of sunrises and sunsets.  I submitted the following photo:

A few weeks later I checked back and saw that they posted the top 15.  Surely I was going to get SOME mention in the top 15.  That pic I took, with my iphone no less, was sick.

But no.  Out of the 15 they picked, maybe 4 or 5 were better, and after that, maybe 6 total were worth the effort.  The rest, including one taken from someone’s couch out of their picture window, blew King Kong Kock.

Now to the rest of your site – it’s terrible.  I understand you’re the only daily on Cape, but c’mon dude, you guys are fucking terrible.  It’s not like you have any real competition, except for the little dinky local papers, like the Ptown Banner, Barnstable Patriot, etc.  But c’mon, make the effort.

Your stories are half researched at best, and usually filled with speculation from your editorial staff.  You run incomplete articles that virtually amount to nothing, except a huge waste of time.

For instance, for the last month or six weeks, you’ve been running the same story about how some fire lieutenant is in trouble with the town offices in Bourne.  You can’t report why she’s in trouble, or under what circumstances she’s being investigated for, yet you run the story.

It’s fucking gossip dude.

Your Police and Fire Notes are often stuff you guys grab off the scanner.  Shooting here, stabbing there, car accident on 6… big deal, it’s so fucking repetitive that I want to go down to your printing shop and instruct all of you on the phenomenal waste of paper you’re generating.

But hey, my ferrets need ass wipe too, so… keep up the good work.

November 24, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, Why Am I Reading This? | , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Driving Doesn’t Suck, You’re Just a Shitty Passenger.

My wife tends to think that my driving is the product of a one night stand where the devil failed to pull out of a 1980 El Camino, which he was slapping while fucking doggystyle.

Now that you’ve surely digested that bit of mental imagery, I’m here to say that my driving doesn’t suck; I’m actually a very good, well-trained coxswain of the highway.

Let’s look past how I barely passed my MCJA EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operators Course) with an 80, the lowest passing score, on my second of only two tries.  If those parking cones had really been children, I’m sure most of them would have jumped out of the way.

The car had sirens for a reason, people.

But no, let’s analyze my driving right now:  The faults I have are numerous; however I make up for it by being attuned to what’s going on around me.  My wife will be quick to point out that I miss things while driving, like apparently a giant rock that hit her windshield while we were driving out to Niagara a short while back.

I didn’t even hear this “rock” hit the windshield.  If it was so big, why didn’t I hear it, huh?

She’ll also be quick to point out that I miss other things, like objects on the side of the road.  Mind you, they’re usually on the passenger’s side of the road, and if I noticed them, I likely would miss the toll booths we’d be racing towards at 80 mph and the dithering toll collector crossing between the booths.

My wife’s driving is terrible, far worse than mine, not for lack of skill, but for lack of concentration.  Often she’s fiddling with something, like the car’s AC,

or her phone,

or her phone charger,

or her Altoids,

or her cup of coffee,

or trying to fill out a bank slip long before we’re even at the bank

or glancing at “interesting” shit on the side of the road, and will miss an exit.  This, and the fear of being killed while I’m asleep, means that I stay bolt upright and awake during all of our travels where she drives.

Hence, why 4/5s the time I’m usually the one in the driver’s seat.

Yes I drive “hard”; I speed, tailgate, get agitated with slower moving traffic, and often cuss under my breath at the unbelievable bullshit I see while operating on a motorway.  I see Barbie texting like crazy, while diddling the radio knob.  I see Ken eating a goddamn cheeseburger and steering with his knee.  I see Old Man Smithers jacking it to a yellowed copy of Hustler from 9 years ago.

I said it was unbelievable bullshit.

So what if I check Google Maps from my phone to ensure we’re going the right way (which is what I was doing in the photo from her article)?  So what if I nudge into traffic with the gentleness of a PCP snorting elephant?  So what if I cut through a DO NOT ENTER and travel a quarter mile down a one way street at night with my lights off while fumbling around with a loaded pistol?

I’m not hurting anyone.

I refuse to admit that I’m a ‘bad driver’ only because I try really hard not to text and drive…. It’s only because with an iPhone it’s next to impossible to text and drive and have anything come out that’s remotely coherent.  It’s just easier to make an actual phone call.

And on farting?  I crack the window an inch to create greater suction.  There’s a scientific name for it, but I can’t remember it.  But keep in mind, I’m not going to crank down the windows to air out my shitty smelling farts; no that would only trap the fart in the back of the car with the dog, beating it senseless (the fart), confusing it, not letting it escape until some sort of cellular dispersion occurred and all the shit crystals spread far enough away from each other so you wouldn’t be overpowered by the stench.  No, a small, one inch crack in the window will sufficiently suck the offensive, strict-protein-diet-fueled gasses out and put them on the street with everything else that smells: Trash, Hookers and The Mets.

And while I’m driving the bus, let me tell you this:  My wife farted on me once.  We were in bed, she thought I was fast asleep, she had her legs up over mine, and she let out a little tooter.  Yes, a quiet little “toot” escaped her rear end.  The thing is, I wasn’t fast asleep, I was wide awake with my eyes closed.  So when I opened them to make her face the shame of her crime, she quickly snapped her eyes shut to pretend that she had been sleeping all along.  So I just stared at her until she tried to crack one of her eyes back open to see if I noticed her little fanny burp.

I was staring directly at her, with a cold expression on my face that was something caught between betrayal and hatred.

Yeah, talk some shit about my driving.  See if I don’t put you on blast for being gassy.  That’s how I do.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Savageness of Business/The Shotgun Accord of 2009

The Realtor called again this afternoon.

To get everyone on the same page, there’s been this slow boiling Cold War between my wife and I, our utterly inept landlord (whom I discovered today, does appear as though she were a human-fish hybrid), and the real estate company she’s trying to sell our apartment through.  All parties despise each other to the point where our front step is something similar to the 38th Parallel.

We’re in the process of moving out of here, because Ang and I are fed up with having to deal with the bullshit that consumes us on a daily basis in our “quaint (see also: small, old, dingy)” apartment on Main St.  From drunken hooligans parading down the thoroughfare throwing glass bottles at houses, to the 7am weed-whacking that we’ve yet to pinpoint a location on, yet hear nearly daily, we long for something quiet, out of the way, and without the bothersome-yet-polite nagging from The Realtor.

As stated she called today, which took me off guard.  Typically phone numbers that come up on my phone’s screen that I don’t readily recognize I tend to send off to vmail; that is after all, why voicemail was invented, to screen calls from undesirables, am I right?  But being that I was driving, I felt compelled to put everyone’s life at risk, mine, my wife’s, other motorists, and answer.

“Hi, is this Jim?”  Came the cheery voice of the cuntbag Realtor.  At first I thought it might’ve been the nurse at the doctor’s office we just left a short while ago; maybe we had left something behind, or there was some missing paperwork, etc.  But she followed up her greeting with “This is ____ (rhymes with ‘spam’) from _______ (rhymes with ‘fuckhole’) Reality, how are you today?”

Fuck!

We were just coming back from a doctor’s visit where Ang had been knocked out so a small camera could be rammed down her throat and pictures could be taken of the small ulcer she’s gone on to name “Squirmy.”  While the photo’s were ‘Sear’s Portrait’ at best, we did get a B-Roll to take home with us.

Regardless, Ang was passed on in the passenger seat and I could tell she was going to be groggy for the next few days.  The very thought of a realtor dragging some so-and-sos through our apartment right now made my asshole itch.  Before I could even answer her initial question of ‘is this Jim’ she was already ramming her commission-earning greed-cock down my gullet and making my eyes bulge and tear.

“I was wondering if it’d be ok to show the apartment this time tomorrow,” we had an agreed upon an armistice after our last interaction, which I can’t remember if I went into or not in the last article I wrote regarding this topic.  In short, after she pinned her calling card on our door while we were out, and I came just short of calling her a miserable bitch from the 9th circle of hell when I called back, we agreed on what I call the “Shotgun Accord” where she would give me a 24 hour heads up before bringing prospective buyers by, and I wouldn’t shove the barrel of my Remington 870 into any “trespasser’s” face.

She was holding up hear end of the bargain, and under normal circumstances I’d be obligated to give her the go-ahead.  But I glanced over at the crumpled form of my wife, passed out in the passenger seat complete with her cute way of snoring like a man, thinking of her inevitable anesthesiologist-induced hangover, and had to pull the wife-card.

“Ugh, ____, it’s not going to happen, look, my wife’s real sick, we’re just coming back from the doctor’s where my wife had an IV rammed into her arm and a camera down her throat.  She’s in no position to have people tromping around where we live.  She needs rest.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.  Well, what I can do is call back the agent and find out if the people are locals or out of towners, and if they’re local, we’ll reschedule for later in the week, and if they’re out of town, we won’t bring them upstairs, how about that?”

The bitch!  Like, everything I just said to her apparently didn’t resonate one bit.  I understand that she’s got a business to run, and time is money, but I just told her that my wife’s bed ridden and sick.

I grip the steering wheel and twist, feeling like I’m going to snap if off the column.  Ang murmurs.

The Realtor doesn’t miss a beat, and it’s hard to miss the smugness in her voice:  “_____ (our landlord, rhymes with ‘Turdface’) tells me you guys found a place, so you don’t need me to give your info to our rental agent?”  When we last spoke, the Realtor told me she had a hook up on some nice rental property down the road from us, and she was going to have an agent contact us ‘very soon.’  That was weeks ago and we hadn’t heard one word from anyone from this agency until now.  I bit my tongue before telling this witch to hop back up on her broom and go fuck herself.

That was actually the scenario that I figured had probably gone down (not the broomstick penetration); that our shitty landlord had, in a surprising and uncharacteristically act of selflessness, contacted The Realtor and told her to back off of us.  We’d be gone in a few weeks, no need to hassle good people.  But I guess I was mistaken.

“Yeah, we found a place,” I conceded.  If she, The Realtor, knew this information, why wouldn’t she just leave us alone and let us move out, and start showing the place in earnest next month, when we’re not there and she doesn’t have to bother anyone?  The Savagery of Business!

I wanted to explain that scenario to her but I’d be wasting my breath.  The longer property sits on the market, the less likely it’ll get sold, that’s Real Estate 101 for you.  She wants as many dipshit buyers in our living space as possible.  I’m actually quite surprised that there hasn’t been an open house while we’re sitting at our kitchen table eating breakfast.

As of press time (which is later in the evening after taking the call) I’ve yet to hear back from this miserable bridge troll that’s in charge of selling this property, which means that sometime tomorrow afternoon, some fucking out-of-state dickbags and this happy-go-lucky machine gun target are going to be making all sorts of ridiculous noise during my wife’s convalescence.

Consider the “Shotgun Accord” to be officially null and void.

November 16, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tid Bits: Runner Snob/Social Networking/The Power Company

Tid Bits is a new thing I’m going to try.  In short, it’s basically ideas or short articles that I couldn’t flesh out enough into full length pieces, so I’ll just throw a bunch of them together in one post, each roughly 500 words or less.  Think of it like a stew made up of left overs that were too good to throw out, but not really enough for lunch.

If it turns out to be a successful idea, I may run it once a week.  We’ll see.  First up:

Runner Snob:

I do a lot of running, usually on open roads dense with mid-morning or afternoon traffic.  This is hazardous, however I feel a greater threat to my body from running on a treadmill.  Don’t ask me why, the answer is too long to explain, just take for granted it has something to do with joints, tendons, muscles, etc.

So I road run.  Road Runners are a select breed that I like to think of as a cross between urban bike messengers, rebels with nothing to live for, and fighter pilots.  We take somewhat calculated risks, where if our calculations are off even by a fraction, it could result in a delivery truck running over our legs, or worse, some idiot texting and driving pulling out from a side street without looking both ways, causing you to flip over their hood and into their windshield, spilling your skull-guts all over the blacktop like a pinata at your girlfriend’s cousin’s quinceanera.

But being a road runner also makes you a terribly obnoxious snob while out running.  The reason is many-fold, from having to deal with other pedestrians whom have no clue how to give way to someone running past them (that stupid half step, lean in, lean out, don’t-know-which-way-to-go dance) to sighting massive Peopalo (half person, half dumb water buffalo) crossings where these dumb herd creatures stand on city curbs, usually grazing from a bag of microwaved popcorn with vacant stares, waiting for a crossing signal to change.  They’ll step right off the curb in front of you, even as you give them a “head’s up!” from a distance of 15 feet.

At best, you break your stride, and have to dart around them like a nimble… something or other.  At worst, you plow right into them and fracture your rib cage on their massive, sagging arm.

Yes, running makes me a pretentious asshole who wraps himself in over-priced spandex, with some dangling piece of Apple electronic from my ear.  I wear ridiculously futuristic-looking sunglasses and running shoes that resemble one of P. Diddy’s outfits from 1999.  But I’m still better than you, “you” being the fat lazy piece of shit mucking up my run by simply standing there dressed in some frumpy overcoat with coffee stains on it, mouth agape, getting fatter off of the car emissions and farts from their fellow peopalo.

Social Networking:

I was in my local GNC yesterday and I happened to run into the wife of a guy I work with.  We had idle chatter; the bullshit about the collective knowledge that Venn Diagramed into what we both knew.  She then hit me with this:

“I haven’t seen you on Facebook lately, what’s up with that?  Did you unfriend me?”

Jesus, this stupid drama never ends, does it?  One of the cardinal reasons I dropped off the FB Radar was over dumb conversational topics like this.  First off, my life is far too important to be spent worrying about what others online think about me, secondly, I found that I spent too much time dithering to the point of brain numbness on each and every person in the known universe’s fucking Facebook page.  The endless updates streaming in from people I hardly spoke to in High School let alone in real life, the advertisements from Wendy’s, Lamborghini, and RockStar Energy Drink, all of which I gladly subjected myself to by clicking the “I’m a Fan” button.  I was sick of it, all of it, and most of all I was sick of the inevitable real-life interactions with people that seemed to center on fucking Facebook.

I looked at the woman, and with probably a look of total hatred, I explained that I killed my Facebook page.

“Really?!”  Genuine surprise.  “Good for you, I wish I could,” and it hit me, quitting Facebook, especially when you work a pedestrian job such as behind the counter at GNC, was like trying to quit smoking.  I mean, what else were you going to with your free time, when no one’s in the store, but to log on to your Facebook Account and endlessly click “refresh”?

I went on to explain that one of the bigger reasons I got out of Facebook’s grasping control over my life was because of the pointless arguments I was getting into with my wife.  The constant insecure “who’s that writing on your wall?” and “Did you ever sleep with her?” questions were enough to make me want to put a bullet through the giant fucking monitor that is my entire computer.  It wasn’t worth it anymore, life was/is simpler without the faceless corporate dickwad Facebook looming over everything I do, say, touch and make.

“You’re what, 27?”  I asked her.  She nodded.  “You’re too old to have a Facebook anymore, I’m sorry.”  And with that she agreed as well.  And that’s another reason why I gave it all up.  I’m a married 28 year old male, Facebook shouldn’t have a role in my everyday life anymore.  I’m not a college kid or a young upstart looking for a foothold into a career.  I have a stable job that allows me to pay all the bills and rent and have a little left over at the end of the month to do the things me and the wife like to do.

But I know she, this wife of a friend won’t give it up, the same way I know this guy at my work will likely never stop smoking, try as he may.  His (our) job is too stressful and has too much downtime for him to go out and get a quick smoke.  It’s a rollercoaster, where we’re up and down so frequently that he can only decompress by taking a few lonely drags out on the smoker’s deck.  At night I walk by, and there he is, alone, leaned up against a wall, dragging away looking at his feet.  I honestly feel fucking sorry and sad for him, but I know he won’t let go of the little white dick until he’s moved on to something that’s a lot quieter and completely different.

This girl, this wife of a friend from work, will not let go of Facebook for the same reason.

The Power Company:

Kudos to Nstar, our local electric power regulator.  Bravo for being on scene so quickly and doing such a thorough job last night when apparently the power went out in our neighborhood at like, 3 am.  I don’t know much about the details, as I was able to sleep through most if the hullabaloo, but my wife on the other hand, could not.

This translates into me hearing her tell me all about with, in that way a woman wearing curlers and shaking a rolling pin, would tell it.

I do remember some of it, though, particularly the part where because the transformer Nstar was working on was affixed to a telephone pole that sat directly in front of our bedroom window, they shined a 1000 watt spotlight into our bedroom for three straight fucking hours.  So thanks for that.

But part of my problem, that I hear about at least weekly, is my ability to sleep through most anything.  This is true, and I attribute this fact that I even slept through my own birthing.

Somewhat True Story:  When I was born, doctors thought for a second I was stillborn, but suddenly I awoke, rubbed the peach-fuzz stubble around my mouth, yawned, blinked my eyes, and looked around the room.  Immediately I asked if someone was going to the store, and if so, could they pick me up a litre of Canada Dry ginger ale and a Snicker’s bar.

Fast forward to the age of 7 or 8, and my parents decided to take me out to a stock car race.  I was fast asleep in my dad’s lap, no earphones on, by the fourth lap of the first race.  I even slept through a massive crash where two motorists were severely mangled, and a fire truck was called on scene to yank out whatever body parts they could separate from the wreckage.

I’m a heavy sleeper, which is irksome to my wife, who fears that any moment, members of the Atlanta Falcons are going to storm into our apartment and presumably start a pick up game in our living room, using our dog’s disembodied head as a ball.

If I learned anything about Nstar firing the planet-evaporating death ray from the Death Star into our most sanctimonious chamber at the oddest hours of the deadest part of the night, it was that I should probably set the alarm on my phone as well as my bedside alarm clock, in case this happens again when I have to work the next morning.

November 5, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Honeymoon

You can see pics from the trip here – ed.
There’s something special about returning to work after taking time off, especially if that time off was regarding your honeymoon.  You feel so blissfully out of touch it’s amazing to find your desk as you left it, belongings mostly intact.  This all seems to soften the blow that your tub of fat-free yogurt has gone missing altogether.

That said, the time spent on your honeymoon is magical; everything seems to go right even when it’s terribly wrong, like getting lost in Upstate NY.

We weren’t really lost; the plan was to drive off the highway for a bit, see some of the “real” countryside of upstate, the side you don’t see on Rt 90 on your way to Buffalo, of all places.

I had been scanning the New York Times’ Real Estate section and observed that homes in the Saratoga Springs area were going for between 175-200K.  Good homes with two stories, a yard, maybe even a pool.  Perfect, I thought, just what we were looking for.

But Corinth, the small hamlet where we ended up, is New York State’s scraped elbow.  There’s nothing but mountains, trees, dirty depressing dilapidated store fronts, a gas station every ten feet, kitty-cornered from one another, each seemed to be manned by the same grimy-faced local who knew, instantly, that you were from out of town.

Such a local, a waitress in some sort of strange service station/diner, a face that looked beaten with a sun-heated shovel pointed her gnarled nicotine stained finger nail at the ATM in the far corner of the establishment when I asked as to where one could be found.

“You always miss it,” she hissed, as if to indicate that she knew I was from out of town, and I represented every wayward traveler to ever cross the town line.

And of course, it was easy enough to tell we, my wife and I, hadn’t graduated from the Corinth Regional High School.  Although dressed like slobs, our clothes didn’t reek of diesel fuel.  We were driving around in a whisper quiet Toyota Prius, paying more attention to our iPhones than the surroundings of the small dent in the Earth that was Corinth.

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty first arrives in the 50s and the locals think he’s an alien?  He has this crazy looking car with gull wings for doors, in a biohazard suit, etc.  The local hick farmer nearly cut him in two with a shotgun blast for crashing into his barn, but was too petrified to pull the triggers.

That’s what it was like for us, driving around Corinth with out of state plates in a car that made no noise.

We had enough “small town charm”, not bothering to stop at the Dollar General (we did eat in the one restaurant in town that didn’t look like someone’s wind-smashed porch.  A Chinese food place called Golden Dragon, or Double Gold, or Lucky Dragon… I think it’s a rule that Chinese restaurants have to have either “dragon” “gold” or “lucky” in their names in our order get a business license.) before high tailing it the hell out of Dodge.

***

Niagara was beautiful however, a trip that I will never forget, thanks to technology.  We arrived late, after putting in 12 hours on the road between Portland, ME and Niagara Falls.

We left later than what I wanted to, due to a slower start, but at the time it seemed the all engines were firing just fine.  But with a stop at the Tim Hortons before even leaving my mom’s home town – which sucked up about half an hour – we were in rough shape.

We pulled into the tiny B&B around 1930 and were greeted at the door by a charmingly cheerful owner, a young woman whom I had no idea would be old enough to have mothered a kindergartener.  She had our room squared away, a tiny “French Room” at the top of a set of grand stairs, with a private bath and tiny television.

Ang instantly took to the shower, as 12 hours on the road will make you believe that God himself demands you bathe.  As for me, I asked to be pointed towards the nearest liquor store.
Cassidy, the matron, busted out a touristy map and with a black pen started to scribble out a route by foot towards the nearest liquor store.

“You want to avoid this area, entirely,” she squared off a section of about twelve blocks due north of where we were.  “It’s a HUGE ghetto.”

But that’s who I am, a shit magnet, that despite my best efforts, would haphazardly wind up waist deep in … dark… waters.

I followed the instructions to what I thought was a “T”.  Taking a left where I was supposed to, staying on a street, etc.  I found myself looking at a dimly lit convenience store, a ratty Caddy idling with a rhythmic clank and rattle.

I rubbed my stubble and wandered in.  Inside I found what you’d find in any inner city general store:  non-descript bags of neon-colored popcorn, 24-count cases of Natural Ice, on sale.  Nylon doo-rags in cellophane packets dangling from a spinning wire rack , non-NFL sanctioned Buffalo Bills memorabilia, 40 oz bottles of some brackish-colored alcohol stacked at the end of one of the aisles (the brand escapes me, but it wasn’t one of the ‘hood classics’ like Cobra, Colt .45, or Steel Reserve), scratch tickets, festering hotdogs on rollers, and black people shouting at each other.

I went in looking for, of all things, wine, a loofah, and tampons.  Maybe a snack for myself, since it was likely we weren’t going to be having dinner.  I left with nothing but fear that at any moment I was going to become a tragic victim of urban violence.  A sad state of affairs, when a young promising male, successful in his own right, was gunned down at a convenience store  outside of Buffalo, NY.  Another tale of “wrong place, wrong time.”

I can see the befuddled detectives standing over my splayed out corpse, bullet wounds in my back leading towards a growing puddle of blood:

“What the hell was this guy doing here, anyway?”  One says to the other, as he flick’s my out-of-state driver’s license.

“Fuck if I know, probably trying to score drugs,”

***

We did the whole sight-seeing bit, which given the time of year, wasn’t a whole lot.  We were only really up there for one full day sandwiched by two days of traveling.

The weather was some-what cooperative; to ask for warmth so late through October would’ve been asking for too much.  But at least it didn’t rain, which would’ve been too much for either of us to stand.

We did the falls, got wet, then went shopping at the outlets, which seemed to be the best option going, as the mall was crowded.

That night, we went to the Casino.

Admittedly, the last time I was in a casino I was 21 or 22, a raging alcoholic who often surrounded himself with hooligans equally intoxicated.  The last time I was in a casino, we were asked to leave by security.

What had happened was innocent enough:  We had been gambling, I think, and decided we wanted to go to the fancy buffet on whatever floor above the betting floor.  We, the three or four of us, clambered into a glass elevator and rode upwards.

At some point, this kid named Anthony, or Michael, or Patrick, … some Irish fuckhead, decided to pull down his cargo shorts and press his ass cheeks against the glass.

Security met us at the elevator just as the doors opened to let us out.

Now, some five or six years later, I was going into a casino with my wife on my arm, wearing half a suit I bought off the rack at H&M before we left for the vacation.

The suit was all black, complete with vest.  I wanted to wear the whole thing, but Ang protested, saying I’d be way over dressed.  I relented and opted to wear designer blue jeans with the jacket and vest.

Walking on to the betting floor was a lot like what I imagine walking on to a kill floor of a slaughter house circa 1890.  It’s disgusting; cigarette smoke hangs in the air just above the dizzying lights and sounds of all the machines.  Mummified remains of happy grandparents sit in front of computerized screens, punching buttons in some sort of twisted scientific experiment.

“How long can we keep these withered bodies here, pressing the same button over and over again, using the Reward System?”

Some were so addicted that they had some sort of punch card attached to a lanyard plugged into the machine.  If we could somehow harness the power from five hundred elderly people mashing buttons for 12 hours at a whack, we’d have solved the energy crisis.

I’m not a gambler, I make terrible bets and even worse decisions when I’m faced with a choice in my betting.  All one has to do is watch me agonize over my fantasy football picks every week to get a clear idea on how I’d make a terrible gambler.

We made a round of the floor, went to the bar, and each got a beer.  I sipped my beer and decided that I was going to play blackjack.  I had 50 dollars in my pocket to use towards that end, and I made up my mind that I would not walk out with less than that amount, so help me god.  I found a lonely dealer at a blackjack table and sat down.

The dealer and I chatted for a bit as I played, and before I knew it, I was up by about 100 dollars from my initial 20 dollar investment.  The pressure suddenly got too high, or maybe it was boredom at how easily I was making money.  I even hit on 16 and drew a five, much to the dealer’s amazement.  I knew nothing of player/dealer etiquette, and failed to tip as I got up from the table.  He changed my chips from stacks of fives to a few stacks of tens.

It was then, holding the tens in my hands, I could see the addiction welling up.  If I bet just one of these chips, worth 10 dollars, I could potentially double it, and then double that amount, and so on.  I could FEEL the gravity of the table; a pull on my spine no short of someone actually reaching in and tugging on my bones.

I finished my beer and found Ang back at the bar, checking her phone.

“How’d you do?”  She asked.  I shrug.

“Well, I have fewer chips,” and I opened up my hand to show that I indeed had fewer chips, but they were worth a lot more than what I started.  She was pleased, especially when I said I was going to cash out and we were getting the hell out of there.

The entire time, walking across the floor to the cashier, I felt eyes on me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed (“what’re you so dressed up for?” the dealer would ask.  “I’m on my honeymoon,” I told him.  “Huh, where are you from?”  “Cape Cod.”  “…You came out to Niagara Falls and you’re from Cape Cod… on your honeymoon?  What, you don’t like palm trees?”) or maybe it was that I was walking out with the casino’s money.

I was for certain that in order to cash out I’d be required to fill out a mailing slip so they could send me promotions, or invite me back, etc.  But no, they simply took my chips, counted them out, and handed me back the appropriate amount of money back, hassle free.

We left, the feeling of a thousand eyes on my neck following me out of the casino.
***

We were on the road early the next morning to get back to reality.  The sky was gray, the air cold and uninviting, almost telling us that we were doomed.  Fourteen hours we arrived at our apartment with two ferrets and a load of bags that needed to be hauled up a flight of rickety stairs.  The dog was picked up shortly after from a friend on a rain soaked night that welcomed us home like the chilling embrace of a bear trap.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment