The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Last One Out, Hit The Lights!

I’m closing down The Desk.

It’s been a sweet ride.  By far, in my nearly ten years of blogging, The Blogging Affairs Desk has been my most successful attempt at shouting to the masses from my cyber-soap box.

It’s been swell.

But my domain name … whatever you wanna call it…. thing is expiring in about 30 days and WordPress makes it exceedingly difficult to re-register it.  Exceedingly.  I mean, dude, come on, I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU MONEY!

Which is kinda the trend on this blog anyway… over the last few years.  My struggles with trying to GIVE PEOPLE MONEY have been documented far and wide.

So yeah, I figured it’s kinda time to move on to something else.  I haven’t really had much motivation to keep writing, I’ve abandoned my post over at IRdC; it was hard enough to keep THIS blog up to date, let alone churn out an article once a week for an entirely separate blog.

And I’m waist deep in training for not one, but at least TWO triathlons coming up later this year.  Couple that with work picking up, I just don’t have the time, nor the energy to sit down and churn out the quality work all my readers have come to expect from The BAD.  It’d be a disservice to put out anything less.

So yeah, with that, I’m snapping the desk lamp shut, powering down the workstation, packing up my box of shit and leaving this site to decay like unattended grapes on the vine.  Sure, I could go out with flare, like The Good Doctor did, but I hate messes, and well, my wife would be sorta pissed.

Too soon?

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my take on life as much as I enjoyed sharing it. You can still follow me on twitter, by the way, for my 140 character-at-a-time takes on life.

It’s like a condensed version of The BAD, right in your pocket.  If you’re not poor and own an iPhone.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have fifteen hours of “Parks and Recreations” saved on my DVR that need to be watched.

…Just kidding.

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March 30, 2010 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Not Enough Time, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dude, Take a Hint…

“A male hawk will defend his nest from any attacker,” -From a show on Animal Planet.

The above statement is true, that male hawks, eagles, most other birds of prey, will defend their nest from attackers, those brave enough to scale 300 ft up a shear cliff face to even attempt to fuck with a falconry in the first place.

I’d like to think that (most) married men are no different than these birds.

I want to start this article and state clearly that I’m by no means critical of my wife’s decision making skills. We all make errors in judgment from time to time, and what defines us is how we “unfuck” ourselves, an old boss of mine once told me.

That being said, my wife seems to attract weirdos as if the circus just pulled into town.

In a previously unpublished article from a few months back I had to get up close and personal with one of these guys; and they’re always guys, because my wife hates other women and never hangs out with them.  But this one guy was harassing the shit out of Ang for a long while, a week or better, about some radar detector he pretty much forced her to hold on to while he took off for a vacation.  The harassment was so thick that in one day he sent her five messages on Facebook, which prompted this discussion:

“I think I’ll go talk to him,” I said as I sat at my desk, upon hearing the report that this guy wasn’t getting the fucking clue from my wife to stop contacting her all day.  We were in the middle of a move (somewhat like we are now, again) and she didn’t have the time to dig through all the packed boxes to find the stupid radar detector, yet it was this other guy’s number one priority.

These guys that my wife inexplicably makes friends with are all older, like 40-something, and super-clingy.  My guess, if I were to venture one, would be that since they’re unmarried, lonely souls who spend their days hanging around coffee shops, they tend to create very strong personal bonds with the people they meet.  And the friendlier that person is, the tighter they seem to cling.

What compounds the situation is that my wife can be very friendly and sociable.  She loves to text and Facebook, Tweets, etc.  By being so open, she allows these Stage 5 Clingers to latch on even stronger, to the point where they start to cross some serious boundaries.

Regarding the guy and the radar detector, I ended up having to go down to the coffee shop, radar detector in hand (we dug it out) and tell him straight up to leave my wife alone.  She’s a married woman, there’s no reason for her to take any harassment from any other man but me, and even then that’s on rare occasions.  The guy got the picture and we haven’t seen him since.

But here we go again:  Boundaries people, respect them.

I won’t go into names, because I have no idea who reads my articles anymore, but know there’s this guy and he’s crossing more protected boarders than a Mexican National who knows how to hang drywall.  He’s constantly texting Ang, always wanting to hang out, and is very clingy to my wife, something that I’ve never been comfortable with ever since I met this guy.

How these two met, I have no idea, probably at the same coffee shop that all this drama seems to take place at.  Again, he’s older and lonely.  What sets him apart though, is the little bits of affection he sprinkles on my wife.  He calls her ‘babe’ (something that not even I’m allowed to do, as Ang hates that particular term of endearment), apparently tells her he loves her (but only in the brother-sister-kinda-way, whatever), etc.

A clear indicator that he’s shown this behavior before is that he’s a Gift Giver.  Gift Givers are people who want to create strong bonds with people, especially people they want to win the approval of (ie a husband), through the act of giving gifts.  When I first met this guy, I off-handedly mentioned that I was looking for a cheap bicycle to start getting into road riding.  Within 48 hours, he was dropping off a vintage road bike at my front door.  Weird.

I was uncomfortable accepting the gift, but since he was dropping it off somewhat unexpectedly (at the time I had JUST gotten home and was making a sandwich when he texted me that he was ‘down the street’) I didn’t want to be rude.  The bike has been sitting in our breezeway since, and I get a little sketched out every time I walk past it.

***

I’ve had a problem with this guy since day one, because as any man who knows the collective Mind of Men, we know that man and woman can never be “just friends.”

Women strictly believe the opposite for some reason, but let me assure you ladies, you can’t.  There’s no fucking way.  Why?  Because men are only “friends” with women “because they haven’t fucked them yet (Chris Rock)”.

For a moment ladies, think about the guys you know as “friends.”  Are they affectionate towards you in some way?  Does there always seem to be some sort of strange sexual tension when you two are alone?  Do you feel his eyes on you when you have your back to him?  And let’s say you’ve slept with one of your guy “friends” does he still hang out with you after the fact?

My guess: probably not.

No, men hang around with women in order to fuck them, simple as that.  It’s hardwired in a man’s DNA to go run around and get as many things pregnant as possible.  This was due to the fact that millions of years ago, Man was no more than a tool-making monkey who in order to survive, needed numbers.  And what better recruitment campaign can there be but fucking your way to a stronger army?

Some of this rationale can also explain the behavior of NBA players.

Regardless, ladies, men are not really your friends.  I’m sorry, but we’re not.  Not until we actually marry one of you that is, which is the biggest sign of friendship there can possibly be: we can tolerate you enough to spend the rest of our lives with you.

***

For the last few weeks I have been trying to get this message across to Ang without sounding like an overprotective dick, which is a fine line to walk.  I’m gone half the week due to my job, so Ang has a lot of alone time (see also: Why We Have So Many Damn Pets), and she often complains that she doesn’t have any real human interaction while I’m gone.  Given this, I’m not about to tell her who she can and can’t pal around with, and what she can and can’t go and do.  She has it hard enough as it is.

She’s also a grown-ass woman.  I would expect her to make decisions befitting as such.  Unfortunately these decisions take a while to be made or require some over-the-line occurrence as a catalyst.

Such an occurrence happened the other day, when this guy and Ang made plans to go to an iron pour, where they take hot molten iron and… pour it on shit to watch it melt.  Ang was stoked to go, and called up another guy friend of hers from her childhood to see if he wanted to come along as well – he lives in the neighborhood where this is going down and like any self respecting man, he readily accepted an invitation to go watch molten iron melt shit.  When that first guy caught wind of this however, he was less than pleased.

Ang asked him straight up if he had a problem with the childhood friend coming along, citing that she believed it was a “group thing.”  Straight up, the guy told her it was a problem, and to paraphrase, said something to the effect of:

“Yeah, I think it’s fucked up that I invite you out someplace, to spend time with you, and you invite some other guy?”

Yo, what the fuck?  To me that sounds like clingy jealously, insecurity, and panic all rolled up into one snippy statement.  So you’re telling me that by my wife inviting a friend she in effect ruined ya’lls date?

Are you trying to fucking date my wife?  Really?

Ang texts me saying that “____ is acting creepy,” to which I think to myself, but don’t respond with, “no shit”.  She tells me about the exchange to which I start to seethe.  I had let this guy toe the boarder of being “slightly eccentric/possibly gay male friend” and “full-on stalker” for too long.  But what do I tell my wife?  I can’t just be like “I don’t want you talking to this guy” because women tend to do the opposite of what they’re told, especially by male authority figures, such as fathers, husbands, serious boyfriends, and if you’ve watched COPS: Mardi Gras Edition, police officers.

So I leave it up to her, but I put some heavily influenced spin on it.  “I think you should put him on time out for a while,” I suggest, followed by “I think I want a word with him.”

Ang complains that I’m going to give the same message job I gave the first guy regarding his radar detector, which I’m not above doing.  She wants to take a non-confrontational approach wherein she just ignores the problem until it goes away.

But problems such as this can’t be ignored.  Think of every crazily-obsessed-stalkerish person you’ve ever encountered personally or in the media and you know they refuse to be ignored.  Something about trying to ignore these types of people tends to bolster their behavior.  “Why are they ignoring me?!” they think to themselves, or say aloud to the voices in their head.

When Ang tried to ignore the Radar Guy, the volume of messages he was sending her jumped exponentially, to the point where I was pretty much forced to intervene.  When John Hinkley, Jr’s letters to Jodi Foster went unanswered, he figured he’d earn her love and attention by putting a few holes in Ronald Regan.  When David Letterman’s stalker had been kicked off his property for the umpteenth time, she knelt down in front of a fucking train.  Paula Abdul’s stalker killed herself in her car just a block down from where the alcoholic karaoke judge lives.

You can’t ignore these people because it pushes them to fanaticism.  You have to tell them directly what lines they’ve crossed and how you feel about that.  They need closure in the relationship via confrontation and task direction.

Example:  “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore, because as a married man, you make me feel very uncomfortable with what you do and say.  Example, I don’t like how you touch my chest, it indicates to me that you think we’re more than friends, which we are not.”

I told Ang that I’d let her QB this, as long as she was uncharacteristically confrontational and direct with this guy.  I also gave her an out, telling her that if she didn’t think she could do that, I’d be happy to tell this guy to back off, which I think I should do anyway because I’m a good husband, and I take my queues from a fucking hawk.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fat Fucks

Recently I was someplace, maybe I was in my truck or in Ang’s car, and saw what appeared to be two medium sized dogs fighting inside a pair of oversized sweat pants.  These pants were making their way slowly down the street, as the dog on the left seemed to be getting the upper hand on the dog to the right, and then the tables would turn, and the dog on the right would over take the dog on the left.
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Then I realized that I was not watching two medium-sized dogs fighting while trapped in a pair of sweats; I was watching a morbidly obese woman saunter down the thoroughfare, presumably towards her next feeding.

I gagged a little, yeah.

You don’t have to watch the news or hear the health warnings to realize that our country is literally crumbling under its own weight for the last thirty sum-odd years.  Obesity has been the plague of our nation the way starvation plagues Somalia, and economical instability plagues Russia.  Every country has its problems and I assume that being a nation of rollie-pollie’s sure as hell beats a nation run by tribal war lords.

It used to be that girth was a sign of wealth; the fatter you were the more money you had to spend on luxuries such as food and drink.  Look at King Henry Tudor, he weighed in at over 400lbs by the time he died of a collapsed lung and gout.  Sure, some of his weight came from sustaining a jousting injury, but back then, what did you do if you were stuck in bed all day besides eat huge turkey legs and fuck the shit out of virgin maids?henry_viii

Our country, despite its rocky fiscal 2008, has been living high off the hog since World War 2, and it shows.  Progressively, every generation since the Greatest Generation, has gotten a little bit fatter.  I don’t have numbers to support this, but be rest assured its likely true.  Why?  Because Grampy Hank didn’t have a fucking Xbox waiting for him at home every day after school.  He had a little something called “Chores.”

Kids today (as I shake my fist from my porch) are not nearly as physically active as anyone who’s 25 or older today were.  This is largely due to school budgets chopping after school sports and the advent of social internet media.  Instead of going down to the park to hang out, chase girls, climb on shit, kids as young as 11 or 12 are going right home from school, logging on to their Myspaces, Facebooks, and Twitters, and doing what kids for generations have been doing after school – gossiping with their friends about school bullshit, minus the healthy dosages of Vitamin D and the basic physical activity of simply loitering.
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It’s a shitty state of affairs when while watching Sunday afternoon football I see an ad urging kids to play outdoors for a minimum of 60 minutes a day.  Holy Hot Fuck.

Ang and I are not planning on having kids, but let’s say we were – I’d absolutely refuse to allow my children to come home from school and log on to a glowing screen.  Fuck that.  Unless that kid has a project or paper due the next day, his ass is changing out of his “school clothes” into his “play clothes” and running around the yard, street, vacant lot, whatever until dinner’s ready, which will consist of steamed vegetables,  chicken, rice and protein shakes for everyone.

And this brings up my next topic:  The Fat Tax.

You might’ve heard of the Fat Tax or “Sins Tax” in passing recently, but the idea is hardly new.  The Fat Tax would increase the amount of money individual consumers would be paying on sugary foods or foods deemed to have little-to-no nutritional value.

To say I’m for this tax would be obvious, although I can see its drawbacks plainly.  First, who the hell is in favor of a tax on ANYTHING, especially in our slowly recovering economy.  Secondly, it’s widely known that the biggest purchasers of “bad-for-you-foods” are people in the lowest income brackets.  Why?  Because like an addictive drug, you craft your ware to be cheap and addictive to keep uneducated people and their spending dollars from straying away; you set your hooks deep with flavorful concoctions manufactured and sold at little cost.

Why do you think McDonald’s has a dollar menu?  You can feed a family of four dinner tonight for as little as fifteen dollars.fat-kits-eating-mcdonalds

Not to knock McDonald’s, as I’m a shareholder; I know its hypocrisy, however I want to make money on the backs of the dumb and poor too.

Another argument against the Fat Tax is that “good food” is also “expensive food.”  This line of reasoning isn’t baseless, as anyone who wanders into a Whole Foods will tell you.  You want organically grown brussel sprouts?  That’ll be 1.99 a lb, oppose to the “regular” sprouts, which are .99 cents a pound.

“What the hell is the difference?”  I asked my wife one day while grocery shopping.

“The organic ones don’t use harmful pesticides,” she explained.  Oh, but, … I mean, if we wash these spouts in the sink after we buy them, aren’t they just as good?

I didn’t bother asking that question, but to me it seems clear:  There’s already a “tax” on good-for-you foods, why not tax the bad-for-you-foods too?

Soda is a big one.  I heard a proposal the other day that suggested a penny an ounce tax on sugary-sodas, meaning, that 20 ouncer you get out of the machine at lunch time would cost you twenty cents more.  It might not seem like a big deal, hell, what’s an extra quarter going into the machine going to cost you, that’s less than a postage stamp.  But think of it over time, and think of it on a macro scale, where out of 265 million US Citizens, over 85% of us consume sugary beverages every day, multiple times a day.

Right next to kicking fast food, kicking soda was the worst.  When I committed to my diet and weight loss plan at the beginning of the year I immediately took notice of the withdrawal symptoms I was having as little as 48 hours without a carbonated caffeine drink.  I was irritable, sweaty, panicked, shaky and dry-mouthed.  No matter how much water I would drink, I was still thirsty.

But I got through it, and after about two weeks I could care less about soda.  Now if I split a Coke with Ang… a real Coke, mind you… I can feel my teeth buzz, dare I say, throb from the high sugar concentration.  I can’t believe I used to pound a 12 pack or more a day of that stuff.
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Let’s go back to that fat woman I described a little while ago:  No one gets that big, America, no one.  Sure, some people are just big people, whether it’s genetics or glandular diseases or by some means that can’t be controlled.  Hell, my Uncle David weighs in at over 300lbs, however, he’s also 6’7 and built like a bank vault door.

No, that woman walking down the street in the shock-loaded elastic waist sweats, with the visible dark stain running down the middle of her back because she was exerting herself beyond her normal means by having to move her vast body a short distance, did that shit to herself.  She’s likely poor, under educated, and had parents that didn’t care about her enough to prepare her a home-cooked meal once in a while.  Instead she never learned to take care of herself and figured that why should I learn to cook when the fine people at McDonalds (ticker: MCD) will cook for me, and it’s only pennies a day…

With the likelihood that government provided health care will go national it’s unlikely that she’s even insurable with a private company, so as a tax payer I’m going to be paying for the eventual quadruple by-pass surgery she’ll require to jumpstart her car battery-sized-and-colored heart sooner or later, plus the inevitable fee the fire department will charge for knocking down a wall to her apartment to extract her via crane and sling.

Tax it, tax Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Lays Potato Chips, anything delicious and would cause a reasonable person to vegetate on the couch in front of an episode of “Two and a Half Men” and stuff their faces uncontrollably for hours on end.  But turn around and give tax break incentives to those of us who are spending money on joining a gym (tax incentives would work like a Subway Card, Jared:  You’d have to get the card punched by a gym employee min. once a week, and turn that card in with your tax paper work) or buying healthier foods.  Make smoking cessation programs tax-free or put tax credit incentives on those as well.  Consider it a rebate on the cost of the program if completed successfully.story2

How about age restrictions on fast food?  Or how about just not letting them stay open 24/7?  Unless you work third shift as a cab driver, why the hell are you going to Taco Bell at 4 am when Last Call was three and a half hours ago?

Ride a bike to and from work more than once a week for a month?  You get a government issued gas card for 50 bucks.

The point I’m trying to make is, yeah, tax the shit we don’t need, but how about throwing a bone to those of us who have already been keeping a healthy lifestyle?  Positive reinforcement works just as good as negative.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children, The Great Indoors, Those Crazy Politicians | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fading Art

To talk about my handwriting, particularly on my own blog which is online – where things are typed obviously, makes little sense.  But then again, here in the last few innings of 2009, talking about handwriting altogether seems a tad peculiar.

Handwriting is the fastest fading art in the modern world.  No longer is it being taught in schools past the second or maybe third grade.  And why should it be?  Most kids between the ages of say 6 and up can readily navigate a computer and probably type faster than most 50+ year olds, especially on a phone or other portable device.

So why handwriting?  Why do I care?

Because my handwriting sucks, and so does everyone else’s.

Take for a second, and think about the last paper check you signed.  For me it was for this month’s rent and as I look thru my check register at all my passed written checks, I notice how terribly juvenile my handwriting looks.  This observation comes just before the realization that some bank teller somewhere is looking at my check and trying to figure out if I wrote the amount for 875 or 813?  This makes me very self conscience.IMG_0169

It used to be that handwriting was a staple in school curriculum up until you reached high school.  Ask your parents and they’ll tell you that penmanship was something they probably stressed out over in the same way kids stress out about algebra and school shooters today.  Penmanship and handwriting were studied and practiced, and a person was often judged by their hand written words.

But with the advent of technology, especially in the classrooms, little emphasis remains on proper handwriting.  It was reported in an article in Slate that teachers spend as little as ten minutes a day with third graders on their penmanship.  Often, teachers will give handwriting workbooks to students and let them go it alone, not either taking or having the time to go into how to make a proper uppercase cursive “S”.

I wish I spent more time on my handwriting growing up; I never had good penmanship and was often frustrated by the sight of my over-large, shaky script.  As I grew older I became more accustom to typing, being able to type over 20 wpm by the time I was 11 or 12.  The biggest hang up for me, as a kid, was the lack of being able to get the pen or pencil to move fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

I’d be leaned over a sheet of paper, the kind with three sets of lines: two bold lines that marked the top and bottom of the “train tracks” you were supposed to follow, with the dotted center line that told you where to keep your lower case letters from being confused as upper case, and drag the tip of my ever-dulling lead pencil in jagged rough print, and then eventually into fake-feeling, albeit faster loopy script.

I never liked how it looked and was embarrassed about presenting hand written narratives to teachers, even though I loved to write and was desperate for some sort of feedback from those who read my stuff (this explains why I blog).  What made matters worse was how easily my hand would cramp up after extended hours of writing.  How many of us sat at our kitchen tables shaking out our wrists as we plunged headlong into another hour of a “Treasure Island” book report?

As I got older and as school curriculum changed, less emphasis was put on book reports.  I noticed also that I took less guff from teachers for my handwritten work (up until my freshman year of high school, my “grade” in handwriting was my lowest grade ever earned, at “C-“) as I’m sure more and more students were like me with their terrible penmanship that teachers grew to tolerate.

“Can’t fight the technological tide,” I’m sure they said to themselves as more middle school-level book and science reports were turned in neatly typed.

My penmanship slowly atrophied into what it is today: a smooshed block-print and cursive hybrid.  When I write longhand, half my words are written in a chicken scratch slashing, letters at the beginnings of words usually standing alone printed, taller, bigger than the rest of the letters in the word, which tend to be smaller, crunched together in a squiggily scribbled text.

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If I write something down and come back to it later, I seldom can read it word for word, it’s mostly like some sort of alien shorthand or place holders.  I’ll recognize a few letters and get the gist of what I meant.

This is especially frustrating for my wife, who’s left scratching her head at the personal note I left her regarding a need for milk, bread and dog food from the store.

My own signature is something that leaves more to be desired.  I often scribbled out my name on important documents with a kind of bloated confidence and dismissive attitude.  Big “J” with an over-sized loop, scribble-scribble-scribble, big “C” with a stab for a dot, followed by two loops and a long left to right streak which is supposed to look like an “N” and the rest of the spelling of my last name, which is only five letters long.  The end result is nothing to be proud of and a piss-poor representation of my father’s name.

Yet, both my parents’ signatures are easily identifiable and easy to read, letter for letter.

One of my wishes (along with a billion dollars, my own Iron Man suit, and a fully outfitted gymnasium for my exclusivity) is to relearn penmanship and become less dependent on typing.  I wish schools taught handwriting more completely and with greater emphasis on correct form.

Hell, I don’t even think kids today know how to read in cursive anymore.  I sure as hell have a hard time with it.  Before she died, my Memere would send me the occasional hand written letter, in cursive, and I had to guess at what half or more of it said.  In return I would email my mom a letter to Memere and have her deliver it in hand.  But then I realized that was kind of insulting and drawn out, and decided to just call Memere instead.

If schools have to lump penmanship in with arts classes then so be it!  It is an art form, a dying one at that.  With more children learning how to text on a Qwerty keyboard on their little flip-phones, hand writing is wasting away faster than Glen Beck’s grip on reality.

It’s too late for me as I’ve grown past the point of refining my fine motor skills- those dexterous muscles at the tips of my fingers that allow for perfect penmanship.  With age those muscles tend to wear away in favor of major muscle groups that do the grabbing, squeezing and slapping.  But it’s not too late for your kids, if you have them.  Sit them down for an hour every night after they finish their homework and Lima beans and have them write out a page in a book long hand.  When they start to complain that their hand hurts and that hand writing is pointless – everything is typed now-a-days – encourage them and at the same time explain that you’re not teaching them a skill to get ahead, you’re teaching them a vanishing form of artisan ship.

I wish someone had done that for me in fourth grade.

September 19, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Shameless Self Promotion, Written Works | , , | Leave a comment

Independence Day Debrief

For the second year in a row I had to work over Independence Day, and the irony doesn’t escape me.  Working over Labor Day makes sense for two reasons:  The name and the fact that seldom have I worked in a field where it was afforded to employees to take that day off.

But Independence Day, the day that we celebrate our independence as a Nation, or from an alien scourge if you’re Will Smith, Jeff Goldbloom or what’s-his-face, Bill Pullman?  Bill Paxton? -has eluded me twice now.

As you’ve previously read, I view most modern celebrations of Independence Day as Ebenezer Scrooge views Xmas; with carefully placed disdain and contempt for those celebrating.  I’m not going to get back into it, I’ve exhausted the subject, but to me there’s more focus on Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest than there is Thomas Jefferson drafting the Declaration of Independence on July the 4th.

So what’d I do all day as my friends partied, drank, went to parades, etc?  I worked.  I worked at my office, because it was my turn to pull the weekend duty.  I had been off for two weeks, and I had somewhat planned (after the fact) that coming back on a holiday weekend wouldn’t be a bad way to calmly enter the waters around my job.  Little in the way were supervisors and bosses and company presidents to ask me how the move went, how my little trip to Connecticut went, etc etc.

So come Saturday the 4th, I was up early and in my office, sitting in front of a screen banging out five or six pages of the fiction I’ve been slowly working on over the last few months.  A phone call here, a buzz at the front door there, and the overwhelming sense that a huge party was going on around me and not only was I not invited, but politely asked not to attend.

What made matters worse, my wife Ang was spending her second Independence Day in a row alone as well, although she was able to escape up the road from our new house to the pond-side cottage and, as she put it “inject some cancer under her skin.”

Christ, even as I write this, I can smell someone’s grill going… Jesus, that smells awesome.

About noon time I broke out of my office, complete with a view of the harbor, and made myself a turkey sandwich and went to my little room and watched like four hours of The History Channel’s run of “The Revolution” a marathon of hour-long shows detailing the fight of colonists against the British Regular Army.  For a channel that’s been dropping the ball lately (attention History Channel execs, no one gives a shit about Ice Road Truckers, or loggers, or fucking whiney professor-types running across Africa) they were the only ones to get it right today.

By five-ish, I decided to go out for a run.  Because I’m at work, I can’t drink, play with explosives, fire any of my guns off into the air, gamble…- I can’t do anything fun.  It’s like I’m on a Fun-Diet when I’m here over a holiday.  But nothing says I can’t go for a run through town, right?

So I gear up: an UnderArmour long sleeve pull over and running shorts, my iPod and my Nikes, and take off.

Now, my office is located in a gay neighborhood.  That is to say, it’s not a bad neighborhood, it’s just gay.  As in, homosexual.  As in, two shirtless gym-buffed dudes holding hands and whispering to each other about their favorite style of nipple rings.  Being that I’m not gay, but easily confused as one because I keep a short head of hair and I’m in good shape, I tend to get a lot of cat calls and whistles as I pound the pavement during this time of year.

I don’t care.  I’ve never had a problem with the gays; do whatever it is you need to do to get off, that’s been my mantra.  If sex with another guy or kissing another girl or sitting on a cake and farting into it get you off, than by-golly, do your thing.  It’s what our Founding Father’s fought for in a round about way, and what better way to celebrate that than on Independence Day?

But when I’m crossing over to my fourth mile under a hot sun with little shade, and I’ve been listening to nothing less than angry thrash metal, I can be a bit temperamental.  Add into the fact that I’m weaving in and out of a circus of colorful people who have no idea how to move in a crowd because they’re collectively tourist bovine, all while pushing up a 25% incline.

So this guy, a gay guy, a fabulously-gay gay in a pedicab sees me working up this hill, drenched in sweat, shining, grunting, let your imagination run wild, starts staring at me, to the point where I actually notice I’m being raped with his eyes, I get a little pissed.  Just because you have an exuberant style and are surrounded by others like you, and it’s a holiday weekend, does not give you the excuse to be rude to others.  I’m not meat for you to fantasize about while you lube up, asshole.

So as I get closer and he’s staring me down from behind giant faux-Prada sunglasses (and I know the difference, ask Ang), breathlessly (which added to his fantasy, I’m sure) I say “take a picture, it’ll last longer,” to which he gasps in a stereotypical way, then produces a tiny silver digital camera and snaps a picture of me as I’m running ahead of him.

What a fucking asshole.

I pull in through the gated lot of my work and take a long walk to cool off.

Later in the evening, after a lackluster dinner of ribs and salad, I head back into the office.  Ang doesn’t feel like making the twenty minute drive out to my work to watch fireworks with me, and I don’t blame her.  To drive twenty minutes out, only to have to sit through two hours of traffic to get back home, is hardly worth it.  So, alone, I sit in this office looking out the window at a fireworks display that barely holds my interest for more than ten minutes.

I conclude that fireworks have hardly been improved upon in the last twenty-five years.  The firework displays I watched as a kid, ooh’d and ahh’d about back then are the same boring displays I see now as a jaded adult.  Slow, painfully slow explosions and bright lights over a dark sky make the throngs of people below my window in captured astonishment seem like a group of cavemen who have just discovered fire.

I don’t want to sound like the Grinch Who Shit on Your 4th of July Picnic, but people, it’s just colored phosphorus.  Its lame, I’m sorry.  I’m sure there are things I take pleasure in that you will find equally lame.  But really, you clap like a retard at loud noises and bright lights.  Think about that.

I turned away from the fireworks out of my window and started writing this article, in a bad mood because everyone I cared about was not with me and they probably had easy access to alcohol and/or grilled meats.  I, on the other hand, am kicking myself for not extending my vacation by three measly days.

Now, someone bring me ice cream, lest I perish.

July 5, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Move It or Lose It

Before I get into the meat of this article, let me address the Michael Jackson thing real quick:  Say what you will, he was a genius and a monster, he was two halves of the same coin cast by a sadistic father and spent by the hands of greedy hangers-on.  He’s dead now, so regardless what he did, good or bad, let the argument rest, as we should his body and soul, whatever remains of either.  How pointless is the conversation on whether or not he did what we all know he had done?

Just let it go already.

***

So for the second time this year we’ve moved, and for the second time this year our nerves were put the the most stringent test that a married couple can go through.  Moving, in case you’ve never had to do it as a couple, is an exercise in communication and patience.  It’s also a fantastic method for finally letting go of shit you’ve been both physically and emotionally holding on to.

For instance, when my Memere passed, she bequeathed to me all of my Pepere’s old coins and weird odds and ends: little cheap trinkets that I’m sure should I hold on to for the next fifty years, might earn me a little cash on Antiques Road Show 2059.  But we just don’t have room for all this shit that was somewhat dumped into our laps by my mother, and although it bothers me a little bit to just heave the bulk of it into a dumpster, it’s also liberating.  Jesus, all that room that was being taken up in the closet by old Christmas tins…

(Don’t worry mom, I saved all the stamps and put them into storage, and I kept all the coins that are worth more than their printed amount.  But seriously, the printer paper box lid full of pennies?  Really?)

I should start this off where it needs to be started, which is at the beginning obviously.  It’s been well documented that the previous apartment we were living in (which was a complex) was a shithole.  Right up until the day that me and two other strapping young men were loading a couch into the back of a Uhaul, the police seemed to make our undersized parking lot their own, which is both good and bad.  Having an increased police presence obviously makes one feel a little safer, but on the flip side, why do they always have to be there?  It’s a double-edged sword.

So about a month ago we, Ang and I, decided enough was enough, especially with Meth Zombies roaming our property, strange smells lingering in our hallways, noisy neighbors and ethnic school children waiting for the bus to take them to school every morning (Christ!  Even Saturdays!).  We fired off an email explaining our displeasure with the apartment overall to our laissez faire landlords a state away and started packing.

I took some time off from work (two weeks) to help in the move, and we figured that we’d do it “right” this time by renting the aforementioned Uhaul, which only ended up costing an arm and a leg in the end due to mileage.  Where we moved to was roughly 40 miles away, and with two trips at 89 cents a mile… you get the idea.

In the end we found a place with “character” as Ang puts it, an older stand alone apartment over a small trinket store that’s a little more than what we want to pay, but at the end of the day, we’re the only people here.  Our cars stay parked out front without interference, the town is small and has a touch of culture (as in a semi-famous playhouse, oppose to… dark people from abroad).  It also cuts my morning commute from 50 minutes to twenty 🙂

We’re not thrilled exactly with our new landlord, as she too is from out of state and seems to have her head so far parked up her own ass that she still smells breakfast from three days ago.  When we first met her, and decided on taking the place, with check in hand I asked “if I cut you a check right now for first month’s rent, when could we move in?”  Mind you, this was the middle of June.

“You could move in tomorrow…” was her response, direct quote, full disclosure.  Ask my wife, she was standing right there.

So I cut the check and we start the process of fixing the place up.  It needed a lot of work, especially with cleaning, painting, patching holes, etc.  This is all stuff that as a renter, we shouldn’t even have to fuck with, but we did it anyway, because we’re clean people who demand a certain style of space to live in.  In the end, I painted two rooms with four total coats of paint (effectively turning a puke green kitchen white, the office space got a fresh coat of white as well), Ang slaved over a bathroom that was caked in lime, rust, cobwebs and all sorts of other nasty bits, and we cleaned.  We cleaned our little twenty-something asses off.

Despite all of this, two weeks later, while Ang is walking out the front door that conveniently goes through the downstairs store, the store owner/landlord stops her.

“Are you two living here now?”  Ang stalls for a second.

“We just got here this morning,” she lies.  We had spent our first night the night before.

“Oh, well, if you’re living here, I need a check for this month’s rent.”  The landlord says.  Stupefied, Ang climbs the narrow, impossible-to-get-a-queen-sized-boxspring-up stairs and finds me in the bathroom putting my contacts in.

“(The Landlord) wants a check for this month?”  Ang reports.  She goes on to explain the conversation she had below, which sends me into a (barely) controlled rage.  With checkbook in hand I march downstairs into the middle of her shop amongst her snooty customers ready for the confrontation.

“What’s this about a check?”  I ask her.  She looks up from behind her glasses.

“Oh, are you guys living here now?”  I don’t balk.

“Yeah,”

“Well, I’m going to need rent for the the last week of June then,” and she produces a calculator to figure out what a quarter of 950 is (I’ll save you the math and tell you it’s like 300-something).  This old wrinkly bitch wanted three hundred and change for one weeks rent!

“What happened to the check I already wrote you, that you already cashed?”  I demand.

“Oh, that was a deposit.  That’s not rent,”

I’m confused at this point.  To move in, she told us all she needed was first and last.  We gave her first, with the expressed understanding that “last month’s rent” was going to come her way on the First of July.  I only get paid on the 1st and 15th – a guaranteed check for X amount because of the job I do.

Her greed nearly blew a guaranteed 950 a month for the next year or so.

I let her know, real quick, what I thought of the situation without resorting to calling her a greedy cunt.  I explained the work Ang and I performed upstairs, at our own expense (80 dollars in paint alone) and how we weren’t taking it out of the rent, and she had the nerve to attempt to charge us for a week’s worth of rent for moving in early when she said we could in the first place.

I nearly destroyed her store.

She relented in the end, of course, when faced with near-tantrum I was throwing in her store with customer’s around, painting the picture of a greedy, miserly old hag without saying the words.  She called the work we did “even” for moving in early.  I set the can of gas with the rag sticking out of the top down and went back upstairs.

Like the Spartan Warriors at Thermopylae, I might have been outnumbered, but I picked the battleground, and she suffered for it.

Since then, it’s been tense, and we’ve largely stayed out of her way, as she’s stayed out of ours.  But regardless, we’re in an older, but better place.  It’s bigger too and we’re actually moved in, oppose to the other place where it wasn’t big enough for us to unpack a few boxes, which were just left in the bedroom, which killed the mood every time I looked at them.

But, and I’ve said this to Ang twice now, we’re not moving again anytime soon.  I don’t care how bad it gets around here, barring the building catching fire or collapsing, we’re not moving for at least another 18 months.

I fucking hate moving.

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Watching a Dinosaur Die

I was just reading in the NYT about how the last Virgin Mega Store in NYC has shuttered its doors in Union Square this last weekend, marking an end to a culture that I can’t really put my finger on.

That culture is not the trendy, ironic hipster culture of the vinyl record store or independent music store that are locally owned and operated, but the culture of the chain music store, the analog iTunes of adolescent’s past, a Wal Mart for music if you will.

I don’t know how I feel about the slow death of this Brontosaurus of business, because it’s been so drawn out over the years that it’s practically stayed under my pop culture radar.  All over the country over the past ten years chain music mega stores, like Tower Records and now Virgin, have been folding due to the lack of business.  People were no longer flocking to these locations to buy their music.  No longer was there a niche market for people to go to one giant store to find all the music they could possibly need, and discover.

We had Napster, then (the much more legal and albeit coolly efficient) iTunes.  But before that we had Wal Mart and Best Buy, which took away from the variety but passed on the savings to its customer.

I had visited the Virgin Mega Store at Union Square a number of times while I was living in NYC, and it was a cool place for Manhattanites whom weren’t “too cool” to avoid big business and simply wanted an album or maybe a book or concert dvd.  I enjoyed the layout of the store, the variety of the wares and found the employees to be pretty knowledgeable, which in a big box store is incredibly rare (looking at you Home Depot.)  I guess what I’m saying is that I’m surprised it’s taken this long for these types of stores to finally lay down and become dust, simply due to the fact that they tended not to fully function in our preconceived notions of today’s society.

In today’s world people aren’t really buying albums anymore, they buy songs.  CD purchases are actually dwindling probably more so for the fact that buying an actual, physical plastic disc is colorless, odorless and has all the personality of that sheet of paper sticking out of the top of your printer.  You simply go into whatever local entertainment store is nearest to you, browse the unkempt racks of over packaged, under priced, bulky cases until you (maybe) find what you’re looking for, take it to the register and leave for home where you’ll push the disc into your computer and import the songs on to your iPod, discarding the disc to some dusty grave on the corner of your computer desk.  That is, if you don’t support your neighborhood’s local music store (looking at you Wulfgar.)

If you do support a local record shop, good for you, but I’m sure even that experience has lost some of its luster.  I’m not terribly old, though my wife loves to point out to waitresses that I’m closing in on 30, but even I can remember the sense of community that surrounded the local music emporium.  I would spend no less than an hour digging through the Used CD bin looking for something interesting to give a listen to for under ten bucks (this was probably 1995, when it was still reasonable to pay more than 15 dollars for a compact disc…).  My best friend at the time and I would compare finds, egg the other one on to make a purchase and run home and give our treasures a listen.  It was an experience.

Now-a-days I load a prepaid iTunes Gift Card for X amount of dollars into my computer and browse through songs, buying each one individually and loading them on to my iPod.  Ashamedly I’ll purchase songs and won’t even remember it, recalling them later on when they come up in a workout shuffle.

This is why the music industry is losing ground; music no longer means anything to anyone anymore.  We have generations coming up who will never experience what it’s like to waste a Saturday afternoon digging through boxes of CDs.  We’ve lost the human touch of music, that connection.

What was your first album that you bought with your own money?  Do you remember what the album was?  Do you remember where you bought it from?  Do you remember the experience?

Here’s mine:  I paid nine dollars for a used copy of Ice Cube’s “The Predator” from Music Plus back home in Biddeford Maine when I was 13 years old.  The old guy behind the counter asked me if my parents knew I was buying this album because of the huge Parental Advisory sticker on the front cover.  I lied and said yes.  I figure he knew I was lying but wanted to make the sale anyway.  My bicycle was parked just outside the door, by the front window, and the store’s owner, this old man gave me a tiny plastic bag to take the cd home in.  I got home, snuck the cd into my room, put my head phones on, the ones with the fuzzy ears, and listened to the whole album uninterrupted as I watch tv with the sound off.  It was a Friday afternoon in the Summer.   I earned the money to buy the cd from weed whacking around the property for my dad.

What’s our kids’ first album memory going to be?  “I logged into my parents iTunes account and clicked ‘buy for $9.99’.”

I’m not advocating for the return of the music store, because it’s a lifeless body.  To call for its return to our neighborhoods would make as much sense as to demand a frozen over corpse be reanimated after it had stayed under a sheet of ice all winter.  I’m just wishing that, not so much music as a whole, but the purchasing of music, still had some sort of community-like tie to it.  I wish it was personal again, and not so fucking ….

Dehumanized.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, The Great Indoors, World Wide Events | , , , , | Leave a comment

Of New Englanders, Colonial and Otherwise…

I’m reading like three books at once (with another two in my queue), giving about two days to each at a whack.  One of those books is the history of Paul Revere, called fittingly “Paul Revere’s Ride” by David Hackett Fischer.  There’s one short passage that I recently read that sticks out, and I haven’t been able to shake it.  So I thought I’d share it with you all:

“The Regulars of the British Army and the citizen soldiers of Massachusetts looked upon military affairs in very different ways.  New England farmers did not think of war as a game, or a feudal ritual, or an instrument of state power, or a bloodsport for bored country gentlemen.  They did not regard the pursuit of arms as a noble profession.  In 1775, many men of Massachusetts had been to war.  They knew its horrors from personal experience.  With a few exceptions, they thought of fighting as dirty business that had to be done from time to time if good men were to survive in a world of evil.  The New England colonies were among the few to recognize the right of conscientious objection to military service, and among the few to respect that right even in moments of mortal peril.  But most New Englanders were not pacifists themselves.  Once committed to what they regarded as a just and necessary war, these sons of Puritans hardened their hearts and became the most implacable of foes.  Their many enemies who lived by a warrior-ethic always underestimated them, as a long parade of Indian braves, French aristocrats, British Regulars, Southern planters, German fascists, Japanese militarists, Marxist ideologues, and Arab adventurers have invariably discovered to their heavy cost.”

Something about that block of text, those 200-sum-odd words, puts a smile on my face every one of the dozen or so times I’ve read and re-read it.  I’ve always felt that to be of New England, to carry the heart of a New Englander, is special in ways that being from another part of the country can’t compare to.  Yes, we’re stodgy and arrogant and honestly, a lot of what you tourists come to see in our lands during the Summer and Fall is largely overrated, but only because we have conceded those parts to your highway trash and generic, duplicated Fried Seafood Shacks that you so covet.

The real Heart of New England is in its blood, its people; those who can trace their lineage back a couple of generations – at least – to those hard, salty, weathered New Englanders who struggle through winters on fishing boats, slog through muddy Springs in potato and blueberry fields, sit in congested traffic on our antiquated highway systems under a blistering sun with AC that can’t work hard enough, to the crisp Falls that usher in those damn winters too quickly.

New Englanders are more steeled than any other regional species of American, bar none.  Show me a more unyeilding type of American, and I’ll eat a Sam Adams bottle.  And smile the whole time.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , | 3 Comments

In His Prime

An oldie but a goodie, I bring you back to 1982, when Michael Jackson literally was the King of Pop.  ….Sigh, if only he had cut this album (or maybe Bad too) and died in a fiery plane crash along with Lionel Richie, which would have cemented their fates as Pop Music Gods…

Anyway, here’s “Thriller”, directed by John Landis and featuring a voice over by the late Vincent Price.  Epic video, especially by today’s standards.  Enjoy.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Love, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Tea Bagging’ is Just The Tip of The Iceburg…

I’m going to be right up front with you and tell you that I have no idea what the whole “tea bagging” protests are about.  I do know it has something to do with conservatives rallying behind Rush Limbaugh, perhaps in an effort to “tea bag” the Obama Administration.  I also know that they held up my wife and I for about twenty minutes due to a protest going on between us and the Mac Store down the road…

Because, you see, the guy’s barely been in office for three months and he’s supposed to have this whole “economic mess” wrapped up by now right?  I think that’s what Mr. Limbaugh is getting at with his call to arms… or hot caffeinated beverage as it were.

I thought we elected a black guy as President, not Jesus Horatio Christ.

Anyway, so yeah, how out of touch are conservatives in the first place?  Is there anything more pretentious than tossing tea bags down on the ground?  Last time I checked, the hard working (or maybe hard laid-off) American didn’t sit around drinking tea, he or she probably drinks coffee.  Probably black, luke warm, out of a travel mug while they wait in line for a pay day advance.

Conservatives are SO FUCKING out of touch it makes me almost want to switch my party affiliation (when Ang asked me earlier today if I ever would I said no, but didn’t have a good excuse as to why I wouldn’t, but I was deft enough to leave it at that.)  Do you wanna know how out of touch conservatives are?  Let me break it down for you:  First off, where the hell were these people when George Bush was taking his time, tenderly screwing us all from behind?  You know where they were?  They were either at their Klan rally or in the cube next to you pretending to be an Obama vote.  Also, they were strategically ignoring information, as in, the reason why the national deficit has quadrupled in the last few months is because Mr. Obama has decided to include war spending for both Iraq and Afghanistan, something that Mr. Bush seemed to leave out of his annual budget for the last eight years.

Look assholes, our country is in a clusterfuck of epic proportions.  It’s not going to fix itself over night or even probably in the first year.  I mean, the guy came into a job where the last guy basically dragged his wet asshole all over the floor after leaving an upper decker (ask your dad) in the common toilet.

One last thing:  The last time a nation gathered and marched to the beat of a manic-depressive hate- mongering pill-popping orartor, wassss….. think about it.

April 15, 2009 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Those Crazy Politicians, World Wide Events | , , , , , , | 2 Comments