Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day After: The Pile of Misfit Toys

If you're like me and have 2 boys or more, then the day after Christmas your house looks like it was the victim of a anti-toy jihad as it appears a bomb went off in a Toys R Us. Toys and gifts are strewn all over the place as you navigate your hung over self through the Bakugan and Pokemon on the floor in search of a place to sit. Then there's the piles of new clothes for everyone and if you've done any entertaining then there's also a mountain of dishes in the sink. The task before you is daunting but after some coffee and some stale cookies you start to clean.

Personally, I like to start with the crap that I wish to return, give to charity, re-gift or just plain throw away. There's a reason that no one wanted the Charlie-in-a-box, and it confounds me that people continue to find a way to give bad gifts. Unfortunately, the search for the gift receipt in the package often goes unfound for the worst of offenders. This unwanted pile of misfit toys and gifts can be categorized in several ways:

1) Doesn't fit gift- the simplest reason for a bad gift. I personally won't buy clothes for anyone but my kids and wife. Maybe I'll buy a T-shirt or sweatshirt as sizes can be judged more accurately but if you don't know someone's pant size or shirt collar then just don't guess at it.

2) Style is not yours gift- I'm pretty lucky that I'm fairly good at picking out clothes that my wife likes. My mother-in-law, however, is not that good at it. Plus she had the kohones to buy me underwear- like she even knows what I wear underneath what shows on the outside, kinda creepy to even think about.

3) Good intentions but poor execution gift- the most common gift that sucks is often the result of knowing just a little about someone to get them something completely lame. The thought process is like this- "Oh Brian loves to do crosswords, and look, here's a 6 foot crossword puzzle he can hang on his wall and do for days and days, I'll get him that!" Meanwhile, what they don't know is that I like the Sunday puzzle that Merle Regal makes because it's fun and clever and would have preferred a compilation book by him instead. I have no desire to hang a monstrosity of a puzzle on my wall and stand while I attempt to decipher lame clues. Crosswords are relaxing for me, I have no compulsion to complete the world's largest crossword puzzle.

4) Age inappropriate gift- I really wonder my mother-in-law thinks when she gets my 10 year old son a flash card set on telling time from a clock.

5) The whatever gift- this is a weird category as one in every 20 times you get something that you'd never thought you'd like but really enjoy. (The Foreman grill comes to mind for us) But the other 19 times is a complete and utter miss. It's a gift that either had no thought behind it whatsoever or the person just plain quit and gave you whatever he or she wanted to despite what your wishes were. I'll admit I've even done this on several occasions. Lynn and I once got a neon lighted pink flamingo statue for her sister one year. I don't think we've ever seen it displayed.

Cleaning up the day after Christmas isn't all that fun, but at least you get to play with your new stuff when it's done.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas part 2

And then, in a twinkling, I spied on the roof
I saw him drinking bagged wine that's ninety proof.
As I aimed my shotgun, he was turning around,
Peeing down my chimney this dirtbag made no sound.

He dressed as if homeless, from his head to his toes,
And his clothes smelled like varnish and some cheap ho's.
A bundle of Toys he had, for goodness sake!
And he looked like a robber, just opening his take.

His eyes-were they glassy! his nose- was it crusty!
His cheeks had on makeup?, his chest was quite busty!
His drooly little mouth spewed breath like gasoline,
And the bulge down in his pants was quite something obscene.

He had a crack pipe he held tight in his hand,
And twenties peeked from his pocket- at least a grand.
He had a stoned face and an enormous gut,
That shook when he cackled, he seemed he was nuts!

He was a slob and pure scum, crazy addicted old elf,
And I cried when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A twitch of his eye and nothing that was said,
Soon let me know I had to blow off his head.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his drugs,
And filled his one good vein, then asked for some hugs.
This display of kindness had fooled my good plan,
While hugging me he then took my wallet and ran!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a holler,
And away they all flew while I shot at his collar.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas part 1

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even Gabe Klaus.
The stockings were hung by the TV with care,
In hopes that some Bakugan soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Pokemons danced in their heads.
And Mom downing martinis, and I drunk on beer,
Had just pickled our brains to fake some Christmas cheer.

When out of my butt there arose such a clatter,
The force from my fart had made my ass cheeks wetter.
Away to the window as fast as I could think,
Tore open the shutters and fanned out the stink.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Reminded me of stuff I found between my toes.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a broken down sleigh, and eight abused reindeer.

With a fat-assed old driver, whose stench made me sick,
I said to myself, "Who the hell is this prick?"
More nasty than pit bulls his coursers they came,
And he grumbled, and cursed, and called them bad names!

"Now shithead! now, dumbass! now, fuckface and hose-bag!
On, ballsack! On, stupid! on, on dumdum and cunt-rag!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now get yer lazy asses movin' before I roast you all!"

He dry heaved, then coughed up and spit out some mucous,
He adjusted himself and then kicked some deer tuchus.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and that weird drunk guy too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Curious Case of the Christmas Crankies

If you hear "HO HO HO!!" and then feel your stomach turning, then you know you're getting the Christmas crankies. Maybe you run out of tape while wrapping the gifts and you start cursing up a storm because you have to go all the way down stairs and run back up before the kids notice what you're doing. It also possible that it started when you waited too long to put up the tree and decorate and now you have even more stupid Christmas things to do while you also still need to do your school work, get some sleep, work your job, make dinner and also fold the friggin' laundry!

Or perhaps it was the 24th time you heard a rendition of Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and you then screamed at your spouse for forgetting the butter at the store. After all, how the fuck else are you gonna make the goddamned cookies?! It's Christmas after all and you just gotta make cookies cause everyone's expecting you to do it! It's for the kids after all!! Even though those ungrateful little brats ran out of the house to their friends as soon as they finished licking the batter off the beater. So much for having fun with the kids who are now "too old" for that kind of stuff now and they don't even want to help make a stupid batch of cookies that you could've just bought at the Acme!! Plus your mother keeps calling from the toy store and asking you the stupidest questions about what the kids want when you clearly told her about five times before. Obviously, she doesn't understand the difference between a Bakugan and Pokemon but what the fuck else you gonna tell her to get?! It's not like the kids will accept any old toy these days, they're too "sophisticated" and will whine if they don't get what they want exactly because the stupid twerps don't appreciate what their parents and grandparents do for them! Plus some imaginary magical fat guy gets all the credit anyways!! *

If that's what happened, then you definitely have a case of the Christmas crankies.

*please note that the preceding paragraph was fictionalized and although it may seem completely possible, it was , in fact, a made up story that was based in some reality and events over the past few Christmases. Brian does love his spouse but thinks that she overworks herself during the holidays (especially this year when she's also in school while working) and is trying his best to help out and doesn't care that he occasionally gets screamed at for little things and understands that she needs to blow off some steam.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back cleavage

Nothing makes you feel more young than attending a large party where you are in the top ten of youngest people there. That was the case last night as I went with my wife to her work's Christmas party. Lynn works in a hospital as a lab tech/medical technologist and at age 32 she greatly lowers the average age among her co-workers which is much closer to 55 than 30. There were lots of short haircuts on the women, dresses that would have looked fashionable 20 years ago, and salt and pepper coifs of hair and beards on the men.

The beginning of the party was somewhat adventurous as the lights were out for almost an hour, probably the result of the day's ice storms on the electrical wiring around town. Fortunately the open bar kept going and the bartender managed to dispense drinks and spirits by candlelight. I suggested that since the DJ's couldn't play their music that we murder someone and the rest of us could spend night figuring out who did it. My suggestions were met with an curious scowl as if they thought I could be serious. Instead we ended up singing a rather uninspired version of The Twelve Days of Christmas where each table took their turn singing one part of the song. Our table had "six geese-a-laying" so I got our table to stand up and stick their butts out and squat to pantomime the laying part.

Just as the song was finishing the lights came back on. While were saved from experiencing more sing-alongs I did end up seeing something that will forever be burned as a permanent image in my brain. The woman directly behind us at the next table appeared to be in her 50's and was wearing a low cut in the back dress. When I looked at her I actually did a double take as I originally thought she facing us and had her hair in her face. But she was sitting facing away from us and the reason I originally thought she was looking at us was the fact that her loose skin formed a fold straight down the middle of her shoulder blades. It looked just like your typical cleavage of a woman wearing a low neckline. Perhaps a bit flat chested, but it was clear cleavage all the same.

I furtively pointed out the back cleavage to my wife and her friend as they both laughed heartily. I referred to her as "back cleavage woman" the rest of the night as I would bring it up repeatedly as I often try squeeze out every last laugh possible on any subject. I didn't find out later until we were leaving that "back cleavage woman" was actually Lynn's boss. Had I known that, I might've squeezed some more jokes out of the situation.

Almost as horrifying, the sight of 12 post-menopausal women on the dance floor doing the twist was quite disconcerting. Even worse was when the DJ actually started to play some hip-hop at the bequest of an Iranian-American co-worker who looked like he liked to go clubbing. Watching 50-some year old women start grinding their hips and thrusting their butts back and forth was about as unappetizing as an Old Country Buffet when you have a stomach virus. I don't know if it really irked me because I know one day I might find that sexy or worse, NOT find it sexy and be doomed as a 60 year old man with mid-fifties wife.

Despite my cruel observations, it appeared they were all having a good time. Perhaps as you age your brain loses the ability to feel shame or embarrassment. It would, after all, explain alot about my father's behaviors lately.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Possum fish

After having 6 goldfish die on us in less than a year, the wife and I decided to stop emulating Dr. Kevorkian and stop buying fish. That's left the sole survivor to be Fabio, the beta fish. Fabio was purchased before any of the goldfish and was kept to himself as his kind will kill goldfish. The kids have seemed to grown attached to Fabio as he is the only fish who hasn't died on them yet. Fabio is a good little fish who has long flowing fins and swims around in his tiny little bowl. He actually has learned that when Lynn holds a pellet of food near the bowl that he should go to the top to eat it.

Last week he learned a new trick that I am not too fond of.

He now knows how to play dead.

I was at the computer (probably on Facebook), when my 10 year old son Jonathan came running over in a panic. "Daddy! Fabio's not moving!!"

"Calm down, he's probably just resting," I replied to assuage his fears.

I get close to the bowl to have a look and I see Fabio laying on his side on the glass beads at the bottom. I couldn't get a good look at his gills and he didn't respond to my tapping on the glass. After a few tries at trying to get his attention, I vigorously shook the bowl. Fabio lifelessly floated with the undulating water. In my best "Alan Alda as Hawkeye serious moment" like voice I declared to my two anxious boys, "I'm sorry guys, it appears that he's dead."

The wailing began again, just as bad as the 1st time they had a fish die. It seemed nothing I said or did would calm their cries. Gabriel ran to his mother upstairs for condolences. So, Lynn came down for a look-see herself and then performed a Christmas miracle. She took a pellet of food and Fabio instantly started to swim to the top. Apparently Lynn had noticed that Fabio's gills were moving and he was in fact alive and breathing. I guess Fabio was bored or sleeping when he was lying still.

The children immediately rejoiced but then started to cry some more because, "What if we had flushed him down the toilet alive?!!"

As usual, Mommy was the hero and Daddy the bad guy. I can live with that fact, but it doesn't help when her pet is in on trying to make me look bad.

Monday, December 15, 2008

An open letter to Ebay

I just got off the phone with a service representative of yours and I am left wondering why I even bothered to ask for satisfaction from your company. Despite the fact that this email is also just as futile, I will send it you just to get some things off my chest and also copy it to my blog so my loyal 17 readers can also see why monopolies are a bad thing. (and I'm a Libertarian no less!!)

I freely admit that there are many things about your policies and procedures that I dislike. (don't get me started on your current feedback policies) My expectations of being satisfied over a recent dispute I had with your company were biased as a result. However, I was hoping for a pleasant surprise and that Ebay would do the right thing. I think the fat tuba player in the marching band had a better chance of getting a date with the homecoming queen than I did of getting just compensation from you.

Allow me to explain the situation-

I partake of the option that you offer to have my monthly Ebay invoice automatically withdrawn from my Paypal account. I plan my Paypal withdraws to my bank account around your schedule of when you apply the invoice. I get invoiced on the 15th of each month and then the automatic payment is applied around the 1st of the month. I've noticed that sometimes it can be done on the 3rd or as late as the 4th, I am not picky if it gets withdrawn a few days late. But recently when my November 15th invoice had not been applied as of Friday, December 12th, I had grown concerned that something wasn't correct. Worried that I wouldn't have enough money in the Paypal account since I was withdrawing the money that day (as I do every other week), I went and used the option to pay my invoice with a one time paypal payment. I paid the entire invoice amount up to that day. The amount paid was $672.32.

This morning my brother, who handles the banking, informed me that Paypal withdrew a few hundred dollars from our bank account. Paypal only does this, of course, when a payment needs to be made and there isn't enough money in the Paypal account. I was surprised as I had made the Ebay invoice payment prior to withdrawing the money out of our Paypal account. I checked my Paypal transactions log and saw that Ebay had applied a payment of $483.12, which was the total amount that my November invoice was for.

Angry and upset, I immediately called your customer service system that is provided for us "Silver" power sellers. (I often wonder what extra services the Gold and Plantinum power sellers receive, is there an executive washroom?) After explaining the situation, the rep quickly looked into it and discovered that recently Paypal had problems and the Ebay invoices were delayed for over 10 days. Thus I accidentally double paid my invoice when I submitted payment on Friday since there was a pending invoice payment that was waiting for Paypal to apply it (unknown to me). After this discovery I made the following points:

1) I was never notified of the situation by Ebay or Paypal through email or announcements made on the home pages.
2) I am a small business and having surprise withdraws (even small ones) made from our bank account can get costly if we end up bouncing checks. The mistakes of both companies (and I know Ebay owns Paypal) could lead to a chain reaction of overdrawn amounts.
3) I wished to know if there would be compensation if I did indeed bounce a check or two (which I admit is unlikely, but possible)

The service rep informed me that a refund of the extra payment could be made to my Paypal account. I agreed that would be part of the solution but I wanted to know what would happen if I were get bounced checks and if Ebay or Paypal would compensate us. The service rep then checked with his supervisor for my request. Having waited the usual 5 minutes or longer when being placed on hold by a large corporation, the service rep came back on the phone and reiterated that he could refund the extra payment and said nothing else. I then brought up the reason why he had to scurry for a supervisor and make me wait on hold and he then told me that Ebay would not issue compensation of any sort for this inconvenience.

I the owner of a small business and when I sell a defective product or make a mistake, I work with the customers until they are satisfied. I've issued full refunds, extended discounts, sent extra supplies. All in all, I probably lose money when I'm trying to make things right. Sure, there are some customers who may act a bit unreasonable but overall I do the right thing and often I do more than what's expected. Even if I didn't feel ethically bound to do as such, I have to provide this sort of customer service because I have competitors who will provide the same sort of guarantees and service.

Ebay has the luxury of being a virtual monopoly for online auctions. Overstock and Amazon hardly make a dent in your sales. As such, you are just as bad as AT&T was in the 70's and Comcast in the 80's when it comes to customer service. A small overdraft seems inconsequential to you whereas it can really hurt a business like mine. Saying you're sorry and nothing else is not acceptable. Plus you try to squeeze every little penny out of both your sellers and buyers. You've changed your policies this past year to boost your fees while appearing to do us a favor in your emails to us.

And yes, I have no real choice to go to another site and sell my wares there as I know you are really the only game in town. So, despite my angry protestations, I will continue to list my items there. I am still your little bitch and you will continue to abuse me as I come back asking for more. I can only hope that you won't make even more mistakes like this and then offer me nothing for it. Perhaps I can dare to dream that some young computer whiz will come up with an online site that will be better than yours and make you fairly compete or become obsolete.

Small businesses that use your site are the backbone of this country and in poor economic times like these we are in grave danger. Your bread and butter is starting to turn stale and all you're trying to do is cut off the crust instead of helping us. Your greed will be your undoing.


Brian Klaus
Vice-president, *********** Inc.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now serving

River Horse is a local brewery just across the river from New Hope. I'm getting the Oatmeal Milk Stout. It's been described to me as a an extra creamy and slightly sweet stout. This is a bit of a risk for me as I'm going purely on a recommendation. I couldn't find a picture of the label of the specific beer either as it's a limited edition. I have high hopes for this one. My wife will be the perfect judge as stouts are her favorite type of beer.

Sam Adams Winter Lager continues to be one of my all time favorite beers. Such a nice crisp taste with intense flavors and it has a great bite and finish. Perfect for the season.

Goodbye Pat

I'm a bit saddened today as we have to say goodbye to one of my favorite players, Pat Burrell. The writing is on the wall as Ruben Amaro, our idiot of a GM, has just signed Raul Ibanez to a 3 year 30 million dollar deal. Why does this deal make me upset aside from losing Pat?

1) Raul is 36 and that's the age where players start to rapidly decline. There are exceptions, yes, but it's not a good gamble to give him a hefty raise from ages 36- 39. In contrast, Pat is several years younger, 32.

2) Raul is left handed. The Phillies line up is littered with lefties. The likey spot in the line up where Raul would bat is with Howard and Utley who are also left-handed. This makes it easy in the later innings for opposing teams to use left handed relievers to shut down the middle of our line up. In contrast, Pat is right handed.

3) Raul was offered arbitration by Seattle. That means since the Phillies signed him away, they have to give their 1st round draft pick to Seattle. The Phils won't have their first pick for a long time (somewhere in the 60's) since there are lots of supplemental 1st round picks and are last in the order. In contrast, Pat wouldn't have cost us any picks what so ever, plus, had we offered arbitration and he signed somewhere else, we'd have the extra pick.

4) Ruben jumped the gun too soon. By being the first free agent outfielder signed, we have just set the market price. Instead of being a bit more patient, we perhaps could have signed Ibanez for a smaller amount of money or if it went higher signed a better bargain or platooned players to their strengths. Ibanez's salary increased by 4.5 million over last year by signing this contract. If you're really sold on him, I honestly think we could have had him cheaper. In contrast, Pat will likely sign for the same money and length of contract.

5) Raul's defense and speed are horrible. In contrast Pat's is just as bad.

6) Raul is a slap hitter who hits for average and lots of singles and doubles. To be fair, Ibanez does get on base a lot, which is important. But his style of hitting doesn't play well at Citizen's Bank Park. Doubles and singles get suppressed while homers increase (actually making the park play neutral offensively despite what people say). I think Ibanez will hit a few more homers this year but his average will drop sharply. In contrast, Pat had a higher on base percentage, higher slugging percentage and was a slightly better overall hitter than Raul.

To sum up-

We signed an older, left handed version of Pat Burrell to a contract that's too long and too much and lost a draft pick and a player that's been great for us since 2000.

Thanks Ruben, I have a feeling you're going to be making idiotic moves like this until you get fired in 3 years. I'm just glad we won it all before you had a chance to screw it up.

Goodbye Pat, I wish you all the best and hope you have much success wherever you go. (except the Mets)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A bailout package we all can agree on

Today's economy is as bad as it's ever been in my lifetime. The government's answer so far has been to grab the credit card, call the bank to increase the spending limit and then go out on a shopping spree that would make Paris Hilton blush. Despite this seemingly illogical solution, the experts on TV all tell us that will help our situation. I sure do wish that I could do something similar if I run into bad times.

"Hello, Capital One? I just got laid off, can you increase my limit to $100,000 so I can stimulate myself?"

Nevertheless, it seems like the executive of the month club has come out to beg congress for bailout money. First the banks and their bad mortgages had their hands out with their sad sack stories and next the Detroit automakers were crying poor since they can't seem to make product that people desire. The amount of money being doled out is staggering to think about. Yet, those smarty-pants TV experts are claiming it's just the beginning. I know to expect some increases in spending when a democrat gets elected for president but the man hasn't even set his foot in the White House door yet.

Times are tough all over and most of us know of someone who has either lost their job recently or themselves are experiencing a pinch. Even the Arena Football League almost closed their doors recently and retracted a team in order to stay afloat. Has it really gotten this bad? How can we continue to function as a society without Arena Football? There's a time period come the third week of February when the NFL season is over, the Flyers and Sixers are mostly out of contention and it's not time yet for spring training.

Arena Football helps fill that gap.
It completes us.
It makes us whole.

Perhaps, we can even credit the Philadelphia Soul's recent championship season as the ice breaker that led us to a Phillies' World Series trophy. They showed them how to do it as we've seemed to forget how to win as a city since since 1983. We simply cannot let Jon Bon Jovi and Ron Jaworski (the co-owners of the Soul) out in the cold after their heroic deeds.

As a child of the 80's, I say when New Jersey's second most popular rock star and the Polish Cannon needs assistance, we help them. An idea as brilliant as indoor football cannot be allowed to languish on the vine. Mom always said not to play ball in the house (OW! My nose!!), but she didn't know the joys of watching the spectacle that is Arena Football. Besides, if we're going to let our elected officials spend trillions of our great-great-grandchildren's hard earned wages then why not let them spend it on something that's at least less trivial than saving the Chevy Aveo?

It would be a mere pittance. Imagine if we all chipped in 25 cents. I've spent more on wishing wells (wishing for a World Series trophy). Arena Football needs financial assistance and we need government pork to save it. Don't let the players go back to their full-time jobs at UPS and the meat processing plant. They need the extra money as they entertain us on the stage made of carpet and plexi-glass. Bon Jovi gave us Wanted, don't you think it's time we paid him back?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today marks one year since I began blogging.

It's a good time to look back and see what we've accomplished.

Sad to say- not much.... It's been a touch therapeutic at times but overall I haven't shattered the earth or reached thousands of people with my words.

And that's fine. It's not about the acclaim or even the affect.

It's joy of writing. I've missed it over the years. My job requires me to be business like and straight forward in what I write. So, having this release has been immensely enjoyable for me this past year. I don't think I'm some great talented writer but I enjoy writing about my life and my observations. I like hamming it up on and occasional inject some smatterings of serious thought. Since the huge majority of my readers are my friends, I haven't really held back much either. This blog has been 100% "Brian". I appreciate those who have taken the time to come by and read this and extra thanks goes to those who show their appreciation and also to those who participate in the discussion.

As far as the future of the blog-

I think I won't change much. Looking at the poll I can see that the over the top stuff plays well. To be honest that's the hardest type of post to pull off successfully as it also requires me to be in an "up" mood. But I'll certainly try to liven things up on occasion. I think I may taper the poker and Phillies posts a bit as they play to a more specific crowd. Perhaps I'll include more polls about different things for some variety.

In any case, I'll still keep this blog 100% "Brian"- thanks again for stopping by.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Elbow Room

We all have our neurotic moments. Me, I can't touch cotton. I have a friend who washes his hands too often. I have another friend who has to have his upstairs and downstairs light switches all lined up correctly. Plus, I have a brother-in-law who cleans his lampshades once a week. By contrast, my wife, Lynn, seems rather normal. It's when you get her in a crowd is when her crazy gets out and about.

I guess it's a form of claustrophobia (Klaustrophobia?) as she can't stand getting lost in a sea of people and feels like she's surrounded on all sides and can't breathe. She starts to stress out and I feel sorry for whomever gets in her way. (and it's usually me!) It's why she can't enjoy herself fully at places like Disney World or a Phillies game. It was a good thing we went to Disney while it was the offseason, any more crowds to deal with than the small amounts that we had and I might have had to sedate her.

If you think that all women like to shop then you just haven't met my wife. She dislikes the mall and the grocery stores because of the other people in the store. Just this past weekend we were at Target shopping for a few X-mas decorations, new pants for my son and some other odds and ends. You could tell that the store was very crowded as the parking lot was almost full. I could hear her teeth start to grind as we pulled into the lot. Unfortunately, the Xmas section was even more crowded and it was difficult to get around. As I scanned the aisles for the wreath that my wife wanted, I noticed packs of greeting cards that we haven't purchased yet so we could mail them to our friends. I pointed them out to my wife and asked her if we should get them while we were there. She angrily replied, "WE'RE NOT HERE FOR THOSE RIGHT NOW! JUST LET'S FIND THE FUCKING WREATH!!"

Despite my awareness that she kind of loses her sanity, logic and clarity when in a crowd, I always seem to forget as I tend to react the opposite way and hyperfocus. I can zero in on what we need to do or where to go and speedily accomplish that goal. As a result, I can be terribly annoying to her. The best example is when we're leaving the Phillies game or other such event where thousands of people all head to their cars at the same time. I'm a big guy, I'm tall and I'm wide and I'm a man. As such, people tend to yeild to me when I make my way through a large group, I am the Moses of the crowd walkers. I also have a big stride and can move pretty quickly. Unfortunately for Lynn, she gets caught behind slower moving people as she's only 5' 4" and skinny to boot. Plus she doesn't walk as fast as I do. I find myself looking back 2 seconds after being by her side and she's trapped behind two old fuddy duddys who made their way in front of her.

Needless to say, I catch a lot of shit from her for not being courteous enough to wait for her. It's just that's it's almost painful for me to walk that slowly. I suppose, it's just as painful for her to drown in the swarms of concert goers or baseball fans. I think that this Christmas I might buy her a wheelchair, a blindfold and a MP3 player. That way I can just wheel her out of the crowds and allow her to sit back and relax to some music in the darkness.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Writer's block

Just letting you all know I'm alive. I just have writer's block and work has been a bit busy as well.

I have ideas, I just cant seem to flesh them out. It will all spill out eventually.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The nominees are in...

Well, asking for nominations for best blog post this past year was a complete bust. I guess I only have 2 regular readers. (sniff sniff)

Nevertheless, I remain undaunted as tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary and as such I have nominated the top ten posts myself. To the left of this post, I've placed a poll and you can vote for your favorite post of this past year. The writer of the winning post will receive another year of blogging.

Here are the links, so you can make an informed judgment:

Cranky Ebay Ad pt1
Cranky Ebay Ad pt2

Billy goes to Newtown Brewfest

Secret Little Moments of Emotional Wussiness

Race Walking is the Curling of the Summer Olympics

My MP3 Player is Reading My Mind


It's My Blog, I'll Cry If I Want To

The Gag Reflex

Twisted Roots

When Nerds Collide

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Santa is a gateway drug to atheisism

We've all heard the rumors, Santa Claus is not who we all think he is and is in fact evil incarnate. All of the evidence is there-

  • Santa is an anagram of Satan
  • Claus is a homonym of claws
  • He wears a red suit
  • He is impervious to fire (goes down a chimney)
  • He distracts us from the real reason we have Christmas (To celebrate the birth of our lord and savior) by enticing us with sinful pleasures filled with gluttony and greed.

While the evidence does seem clear, I am taking the contrarian position and that the whole Santa story and eventual unveiling actually contributes to producing more atheists. While the fundamentalists will claim that creating atheists is evil, non-belief is actually the opposite of belief.

Think about why Santa causes us to doubt religion- You tell your children that a magical and wonderful man exists and he will, at no cost or expectation of payment other than "good" behavior (which the child learns quickly that bad behavior is forgotten if they are good for a few days before Xmas) , deliver them lots of toys and goodies. All of the TV shows and movies stress that faith and belief in his existence is a big requirement. Plus that no matter the problem or long odds that Santa faces, he always manages to somehow "save" Christmas.

Sound familiar?

  • God-like powers
  • Will do good things to those who deserve it (and people who are contrite at the last minute)
  • Faith is required and one should ignore others who say differently or ask for proof
  • He is the savior
You don't need a 12th grade AP English teacher to tell you what Santa actually represents!!

Eventually, little Bobby and Susie learn the truth about Santa and that he is actually their hard working parents. There are no little elves at the north pole but little Chinese men halfway around the world in factories assembling their toys for companies and conglomerates. You couldn't ask for better PR for Godlessness!!

The rest of the holiday magic then falls like a stack of dominoes-

Tooth Fairy? -NO- it's just bribery from your parents so you don't go walking around with your baby teeth in your pocket as it's creepy.

Easter Bunny? NO- don't be foolish Hershey, Cadbury and M&M Mars all act in collusion and came up with the story to sell more chocolate.

Halloween Ghosts? NO- Fear increases the metabolism and an intense desire for high carbs causing one to go begging at the neighbors for candy. Eventually, the chocolatiers came up with trick or treating.

New Year's baby? NO- people just tend to be horny in the spring.

Valentine's true love? NO- the biggest sham of them all as people still cling to this. Again the chocolatiers manufactured this holiday to boost sales in February, Hallmark also capitalized on it as well.

Yet after all of the magic is gone we are still expected to believe that while the whole Santa and his related kin of magical holiday creatures was all a big lie, Jesus is still real and that the biggest prize of eternal life is still coming to you?

Let's just say that I'm amazed that there aren't more atheists like me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The BBC Reunion part 2- now in Triple Blogcast!

It's not uncommon when you have reunions that when you see an old friend that you haven't in years you recall the very reason why actually lost touch with them. You've either grown apart or one of you has changed or perhaps you just came to the realization that this person always was and still is a jerk. This past weekend I felt nothing of the kind and was left wondering the morning after why I did lose touch with these people in the 1st place.

and now the awards...

The Dorian Gray award, the person most likely to have a portrait of himself as an old man- Jeff "Movie Bill", I'm not gay but if I were I'd go for Jeff- the dude is a specimen.

The Steve Martin award, the person who has a full head of hair but is completely white/gray- Andy "The Enforcer", I wish he would grow it out as he would resemble Moses.

The Jeane Dixon award, the person who most believes in astrology- TIE Karen and Adam "Dr. Death". I always knew that Karen was delusional and believed in that crap but I had no idea that Adam did as well. I guess he's been hanging around those Hollywood types too long.

The Manute Boll award, the person who is a lot taller than I remember- John "Pretty Boy". I always knew John was at least 6ft, but he was clearly taller than me and seemed to be 6' 3" and I just don't remember him being that tall.

The Pied Piper award, the person when leaving took the most people with them- Karen, now that was weird. I know it was late, but right after Karen says she had to go, the remainder of the party attendees left with her. It was as if they were all going somewhere to have an orgy and I wasn't invited.

The Iron Chef award, the person who brought the tastiest snack- this one was shocking but I thought the buffalo chicken dip that Steve made was super tasty.

The wooden leg award, the person who really could drink- Bill "Merv" His drinking didn't even make him annoying as he clearly is annoying before getting drunk.

The tape recorder award, the person who recalled the most old jokes- Josh "Mad Dog", he always did have a knack for catch phrases, I actually miss that.

Best exchange of the night (that I witnessed)-

Andy- You had a big part in 12th Night

Jeff- I had 2 lines

Andy- At least you got to fence.

There were many other funny moments but that one will always stick with me.

Reunions are great when the people are great. I'm so glad to have these people in my life again.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The BBC Reunion part I- now in Triple Blogcast!

I am very proud to bring you the first report on last night's BBC reunion in the new and exciting Triple Blogcast format! Since three of the attendees including myself are bloggers, we all decided to blog about our experience at the party.

(please note, currently Im the first to blog, I will go back and edit in direct links when they appear- Jeff's is now up!)

To see Andy's take go here
Too see Jeff's take go here

The reunion was a blast and the best time I've had in quite sometime. Often, you can judge the success of a party by a few things-

1) What time the last guest leaves

2) How much food is left over

3) How much booze is left over

4) How much of a mess was left

5) How much laughter happened

So, let's take a look and assign points-

1) The last guest left technically at 9AM. My good friend, Jeff and his wife Vicki both had too much to drink and it was best that they slept over. We get 200 bonus points for the sleepovers, however, the party didn't end at 9AM- it ended at 2AM. Surprisingly, I still had 4 guests at that point if you don't include Jeff passed out on the couch and Vicki upstairs sleeping. Karen had a look at the time and declared she was leaving and then Josh, Andy and Adam all left with her. I guess the party's over when Karen leaves- something I'll have to remember in the future. 418 points for the late ending.

2) Some background before I get to this- My mother-in-law is insane and there are 2 things about her that really bother me sometimes and every now and then, my wife, Lynn, exhibits some of these traits . For starters, she's a pack rat and can't throw anything out. The other thing is that she overcooks everything and makes way too much food at events or even casual dinners. Lynn has successfully avoided overcooking her cuisine but at times I find her keeping things that are best left in the trash can and she tends to make too much food (although, not as bad as her mother). So, you'd think by now I would know better than to ask her how much corned beef I should buy for the party. 3 pounds of corned beef is way too much meat when you have lots of other things to eat. The food itself was good and we had a nice spread of everything as most everyone brought something to the party. I recall the brie, apple and chicken sandwiches my wife made were very good, the buffalo chicken dip made by Steve was very tasty and Karen's trifle (which was just a token) was also very yummy. So we'll assign -58 points for the leftovers and 248 for the yum factor.

3) Considering that A- we are all in our mid to late thirties, and B- 1/4 of the guests were non-drinkers, this is where we really excelled. We managed to kick my one keg, almost kick my second keg, almost drink an entire case of hard cider, down a few shots of Jeagermeister and vodka, and drink a few bottles that Bill brought. The libations did lubricate the laugh factor but the social interactions were fine with out it. I'm giving 587 points here.

4) The mess wasn't too bad, clean up would have been faster, had it not been for the leftovers. But, since we are all respectful people and none of us were completely toasted and puking there wasn't much mess to be found. The children's parties are usually much harder to clean up after. So I'm giving 298 points for the politeness and ease of cleaning even if there was nothing truly wild that occurred. I'm too old for that shit now, anyways.

5) To quote Karen from her facebook status, "My cheeks hurt from laughing". I agree, I was crying because I laughed so hard. Being together with my old friends was very comfortable and enjoyable. The movie that we watched again was not as bad as I remember it being and was actually very funny to watch. The sense of humor of everyone was amazing and I don't think a joke was missed. Also, It was a nice mix of reminiscing and new stories. I haven't laughed that hard with giggly glee probably since the last time we were all together. I give this one 2487 points.

Now, if i had a calculator I could add up all these points and perhaps learn something, but as I've repeatedly said in the past- I'm no scientist. All I can tell you is what a great friggin' time I had and from the feedback I've heard so far was that it was mutual and I'm so very glad that we had it.

Tomorrow, I'm finish with part 2 and delve a little bit more in the specifics and also give out some awards.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bald, fat and old is the new funny

In less than 2 hours I'll be having a small gathering of people at my house. Some of these people I will not have seen in 20 years. It was over 20 years ago that this group previously got together and made an hour and forty five minute movie on VHS tape. Please consider that this was the summer of 1988 and not today where the ability to edit and put together a movie with your friends is much easier with digital cameras and computers.

We called ourselves "The BBC", which stood for Bill Behun Comedy team. Somewhat odd is the fact that Bill Behun was not a member, nor was he someone we emulated. He was a peer of ours in the theater club that would ham it up, dress a bit pretentiously and had an ego to match. When the team was conceived that fateful day in 1987, we decided to name it after him as a joke and then have nothing to do with him. Before we knew it, we had performed sketches at the drama club parodying his life. It's not that Bill was a bad guy really, he just seemed to ask for the extra attention and being the smart asses that we were, we were perfectly willing to skewer him for it.

We had performed again at another function later that spring and then when 4/6ths of us were leaving for college, we decided to undertake that movie which took our entire summer to make. It's called The Last Temptation of Bill (an obvious title parody to the Scorcese film that was so controversial at the time) and we had cast an outside person to play the role of Bill. That person will also be in attendance tonight. As a matter of fact not only will "movie Bill" be here, but we also invited the real Bill to be here. Five out the six original members will also be here as well. Gary being the only exception. (and Dave, who filled in for Andy at the 2nd performance, cannot make it as well)

It should be fun. It will be good to be back with my old writing and performing partners, we made a good team when we weren't fighting over where to go to eat.

Friday, November 28, 2008

About that GM position...

Just a few scant days after the parade for the World Champion Phillies, the front office announced that Ruben Amaro Jr. will take over as the new Phillies GM since Pat Gillick has retired. It was kind of sneaky of the Phils to do so close after the big win but it was completely expected for almost 2 years or longer that Ruben would take over. Personally, I was too happy about the championship to complain. Plus, we really should give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he does on his own. However, a poster named phdave over at (I met him at game 5 part 1 at the World Series too) put together this nice parody. It sums up the fears that many of us have.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Get Stuffed

Most people really enjoy Thanksgiving. They get together with family and eat too much, drink too much and watch football. What's not to like, right?

Yet I find myself uncomfortable half the time. I could go for the easy answer and blame my annoying over-chatty brother-in-law's sister, but it I would still feel uneasy with or without her being there. Although, I've gotten better over the years, family get togethers make me feel weird and out of place. As crazy cynical as this sounds- seeing genuine affection and closeness in a family situation irks me. How fucked up is that?

Growing up, my immediate family was a touch cold but we did ultimately like each other, so I can't blame my Mom and Dad for feeling this way. It was however strange once we got together with our extended family. My father's parents both died before I even turned 8 so I have scant memories of them. His youngest sister lived in Alabama so I never saw her. His older brother was very reserved and quiet and had older children that wanted nothing to do with us so going there felt cold and I was often very bored. My dad's other sister did have children our ages so it was rather enjoyable spending time there, I think it may have been the only "normal" family experience we had.

My mother's side was worse. My grandmother was mentally ill and seeing her was always uncomfortable. (just seeing the pain on my mother's face of interacting with her was all it took) My mother's Aunt Ruby who took care of my mother when she was a child was a cranky old biddy who was extremely uptight. She didn't drive, so they would always have to pick her up and bring her to our house for Thanksgiving and she would complain about this and that and how much a burden she was etc. Needless to say, she was very unpleasant to be around. My Uncle Ed wasn't so bad but he wasn't easy to identify with as he was a blue collar truck driver who just wanted to drink when he had free time. (he was never nasty, we just didn't have much in common) His kids were annoying brats.

So, excepting my one Aunt and set of cousins I never really experienced close familial interactions during the holidays. Despite knowing the best of intentions of my in-laws, I feel like an outsider when I attend events like this. Fortunately, I seem to grow more comfortable each year and I tend to have a better time. I also feel better knowing that I've ended the cycle and my kids experience a positive attitude with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, etc.

I suppose you could chalk up my negativity to trust issues. I also know that many other people have much worse family situations so this post isn't intended to be a "woe is me" type of post. It's just something I'm trying to work through and become a better person and family man. A little self-analysis is just like Thanksgiving after all- it can be fulfilling as long as you don't overdo it.

My Legacy

True greatness is hard to come by. For starters, you have to be completely at the top. And I'm not talking about the "really good" where even 95% of us have trouble achieving. I'm talking about being the best at something. Whether it's being a genius like Edison, Mozart or Einstein, being the best baseball player like Babe Ruth or being the first man on the moon like Armstrong, being great leaves a lasting legacy. If we can't be immortal, at least being remembered leaves us some solace.

Last year a man named Joel Waul came to my company looking for assistance. (I'm not going to say my company's name as I don't wish it to be linked with my personal blog in google searches. For those who don't know- It's a family business and I am a part owner, we sell PT exercise equipment and latex products.) He had it in his head that he would create the world's largest rubber band ball. Strangely enough, he's been about the 5th person to approach us with such a quest. (I guess we're on a list?)

What was unique about Joel is that he didn't have a current ball started yet. He just had a dream, some gumption and luckily for us, some expendable cash too. My company had actually helped another man in Delaware create a previous record holder, but his record was shattered by someone who had corporate sponsorship from Staples. When Joel shared his vision with us we searched deep into our hearts and then into our inventory situation where we saw we had 5 pallets of defective bands to get rid of.

We sell a 40 inch rubber band loop that body builders use. You'd be surprised at how much tension a 40 inch rubber band loop can provide for muscle building. And since we are among only 2 companies who produce such a large rubber band, we were the perfect choice to provide Joel with the necessary materials to help him accomplish his goal. (someone remind me to post the story of the 40 inch band I had in college)

It didn't take Joel very long. I'm guessing he had alot of free time on his hands as it maybe took him 4 months to make a rubber band ball that weighed over 9,000 pounds!! Joel is now the current Guiness Book of World Record's record holder. While the onus and achievement rested squarely on Joel's shoulders, I feel that I was part of something great. For every great man there are often many people supporting him along the way.

If I can't be great, then at least I was part of greatness, not many people can say that.

Joel is selling his ball to the Ripley's Believe or Not museum, perhaps one day I can take my grandchildren there and tell them how their Pop-pop helped make it as they look upon the greatness of the ball. Until then, here is some video of Joel's ball-

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creeping up on the one year anniversary of this here blog

Believe it or not but in about 10 days it will be the one year anniversary of me starting this blog.

To help celebrate, I was thinking of doing a "best of", but rather than pick my own posts I wanted you my faithful readers (all 5 of you?) to nominate the posts that you liked the most this past year and I would put it up to a vote.

So in the comments section of this post, please nominate your favorite Nothing Else Better to Do blogs!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The long awaited answer! The exciting conclusion!!

Well, my ebay ad for Thomas the Tank and his cranky friends sold last Friday night. It went for $61, which is actually close to $15-20 more than the average sets (that are used) on ebay sell for.

A good result for me.

But what does this tell us?

Well, I'm no scientist but if I were, I would say that we haven't learned anything really since we don't have any true controls. But as I said, I'm no scientist thus I would like to make some unqualified conclusions anyways.

Cranky didn't sell the ad here- funny did.

Whilst the keen observer here would say something like, "Well, Brian, by your own admission, you are somewhat manic right now and as such you are feeling a sense of inflated importance and ego. So, color me skeptical that you would come to that conclusion, seeing that in your current mood you really couldn't think any different."

To you I say, "Suck it!"

I know it sold because it was funny since I received the following note in the paypal payment notification:

Your description was the best thing I have read in quite awhile Thanks for the chuckle. You are rather witty!

See? wcf2527, the ebay buyer, thinks the ad was rather witty! So save your derision and cast aside your doubts and admit that even in my most crankiest moods I still manage to remain funny.

Now, if I were a scientist, I would throw out all the results of this experiment since it clearly doesn't answer the question, "Will a cranky ad on ebay sell?" But, as I've mentioned twice already before now (why aren't you paying attention!!), I'm no scientist and I will answer the question with an emphatic "maybe"!

Finally, in order to put this most unpleasant experience behind us. (How dare you question me and not listen!) I leave you with the shipping notification I just sent this morning to wcf2527:

Well, I'm glad to see that cranky sells. Many thanks for your order and bid. I am grateful and between just us, I'm glad that you won and not that jonasiance25 guy. He really was creeping me out with his less than $61 dollar bids.

I'll ship this on Monday for you by UPS ground. My experience is that GA usually takes 3 business days for delivery from PA. That means it's likely (but not guaranteed) you'll get it on Friday since Thanksgiving isn't considered a work day even if we do have to labor over a large amount of poultry and carbohydrate filled side dishes. Even if we don't have to cook the meal, then dealing with your gassy in-laws and alcoholic cousins isn't exactly what I call a "holiday" either- but I digress.

It's also possible that I'm wrong about the delivery estimate and you could see it on Wednesday instead since UPS hires extra people for the holiday season and they could be running things more efficiently. BUT, the economy is also in the outhouse and as a result UPS may have skipped the extra hires in order to save costs and as such you may not get your package until next Monday. That doesn't even mention the fact that if they completely screw up and mix your package in with the next-day air packages and you could get as soon as this Tuesday.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really don't want hear questions about where your package is until next Tuesday. UPS is really the least of our worries, anyways, with our generation having to face global warming, looming recession and rampant nudity among our immoral wildlife.

Enjoy the set and I really hope that your children enjoy playing with it because if you're the one playing with the set then I've misjudged you and you're actually creepier than jonasiance25.

Happy Holidays,


Friday, November 21, 2008

The Odd Couple

Hearing Christmas music all day long is actually starting to make my mood swing a bit towards the up side. I guess there are some Christmas miracles after all?

Now before you go and start thinking that I'm big softie, I'm still not looking forward to the holidays this year. The real reason for my uptick is the natural rebound that I almost always have after a period of depression or agitation. I started to feel it last night while I was playing poker and finding myself in need of social interaction after a very early exit from the tournament. (damn aces snook up on me) I ended up screwing around a lot and almost became a nuisance and affected the game with my antics. A sure sign that I'm on the manic side.

But getting back to the Christmas music (see? I can't stay focused on any one thought for too long!!)....

What is the deal with the Bing Crosby/David Bowie match up for The Little Drummer Boy song? You have Bing towards the twilight of his career (after some research, I see that Bing died a month later) and David Bowie straight from his glam rock phase! You ever wonder if Bing even knew what he signed up for. It is quite the surreal moment in time where two vastly different types of musicians came together and the result turned out to be quite pleasing. Much better than Frank Sinatra trying the same sort of thing in his final album.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boredom in poker is often a good sign that you're playing it correctly

This past weekend, my monthly poker group had its tournament of champions game. Basically, throughout the year, we throw an extra $5 on top of every buy-in. The pot gets built up fairly quickly and the points leader for the year gets 10% and then we have a tournament to play for the remainder of the pot. This year we had 7 players and 2 spots to be paid.

Since there was no rebuys or add-ons I played a very tight game. Most of the game, I folded more than usual preflop and folded to most bets postflop when I had medium strength like top pair good kicker. The end result was a fairly boring game for me. Somehow I coasted, never amassing a huge amount of chips, to the final 3. I then stole a few pots and got lucky a few times until the 2 other stacks went into a all in. The bigger stack had AJ while the smaller stack had AQ. I was cheering for the jack the whole way and was pleased to see a jack spike the river card and make for a suck out.

Since our stacks were almost even at that point we decided to chop the pot and we each got about $340. The honor of TOC winner on paper went to Tom as he had 7,000 more in chips (out of 350,000) but I didn't care in the slightest. My recent heads-up performances have been abysmal and filled with bad luck. I was more than happy to take a bigger guaranteed cut than to risk getting less to try and get $470.

Tonight, I am playing in another no rebuy or addon tourney but the blinds escalate alot quicker so I don't know if I can stay bored for as long. Perhaps my recent depression will keep me in an ennui and allow me to play better?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jammin' to the Weather Channel

Okay, I admit it.

I actually like a song that the Weather Channel plays during the local forecast.

I know saying that you like a song from the Weather Channel is like wanting to go to the airport for lunch. (that one's for you Jeff) But, it was a catchy little ditty.

I think they use a rotation of about 25 songs during the local 5 day forecast and doppler radar maps. It wouldn't surprise me if they've used the same songs since its inception in 1982. You know what type of songs I'm talking about too. Heavy on the piano, new age or light jazz, whatever you wish to call it. Imagine Spyro Gyra done by people who think that Amy Grant may be a bit too risque for the children.

About a year ago they played a song that was more upbeat and had a nice guitar twang. I've heard it about 3 times since then. Every morning for the past 2 months I put on the Weather Channel in the hopes that I get to hear the song again.

The annoying thing is that even if I do come across the the song again that deep voiced man comes on and interrupts constantly by announcing, "Your local doppler radar." or "Here's the weather in cities around the world." (I think he may be the movie-phone guy) Plus, the real dilemma is how on earth do I even figure out who created and performed the song? Is there a Weather Channel music composer who had a spunky day one time? Or do they use crappy songs that they find in the bins of musak radio stations?

With the internet these days, we don't want for much information. I'm one of those people who can't stand not knowing things but I suppose this one thing I would prefer it to remain a mystery. I need to keep alert in the mornings and if paying attention to the Weather Channel helps me do that then I can suffer in ignorance of where the music comes from.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Temper Tempest

The problem with knowing you have a mood disorder is that you're often left wondering if your current mood is a result of that disorder or if it's actually related to external stimuli. (or both?) As I sit here stewing and feeling what I call the "buzz" that's in the back of my head that's making me miserable, I can't help but wonder if it's because I'm a fucked up dude or because my brother has Christmas music on from B101 in the office next to mine. Or perhaps, it's because my father/boss was in the office today in his usual rampage.

I have no doubts that my father suffers from some sort of mood disorder like I do but he refuses to acknowledge or see it (forget about treating it or medication). Many times he comes into the office and he starts ranting about what I haven't done and what needs to be done and he works himself in such a whirlwind that it's impossible to recall what the hell he said unless you had a stenographer from the early 60's following him around. As much as it's put me in an even worse mood than I already was, I can't help but recall a similar rampage I had on my children this weekend and how they can't put their toys away and how ungrateful the little brats are and yadda, yadda, yadda.

This "temper tempest" is a build up of sorts and a release of manic anger that is dumped upon the next underling or peer you encounter. Sometimes, I can catch myself and do what's best to avoid confrontation. But, hey, let's face it- sometimes confrontation finds you. I'm sure half of what my father said in his blasting was correct, but if he were to slow down, listen and not take a dump on me then maybe most of it would get resolved quickly.

Advice I need to take myself.

History repeats itself and the best thing we can do is learn from other people's mistakes if not our own. Yet the thing about rage is that the flurry of brain activity doesn't allow oneself to exactly remain in control or think rationally. Somehow I've been able to stoically detach myself from sadness but I still can't conquer my anger. Just call me Bruce Banner without the green skin and super strength. I guess it's why you don't see comic books where the hero has radioactive tears and the ability to super-emote.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Scientific study- will a cranky ad on ebay sell?

I've been in a somewhat weird mood lately. Being back at work is a bit stressful as there have been some high pressure situations that I have been dealing with lately. The weather certainly isn't helping with all the rain and gloomy, cloudy days. So, when my wife reminded me that I needed to put up an Ebay ad for a bunch of Thomas the Tank Engine set and tracks to help clear up needed space I knew I could no longer put it off or else she's kick me out of the house. As a result I ended up putting a rather sardonic and almost nasty ad. The ad is scheduled to start at 9pm tonight so I'm not sure if you can read it until then. Thus, the following is the ad transcript:

Okay, so my kids are too old for this Thomas the Tank Engine stuff and I really don't want it in my house anymore. It's a big bucket of train tracks, scenery pieces, a mountain and tunnel, some bridge pieces and a bunch of trains with smiley faces on them. What you see in the picture is what you get PLUS you'll get even more than what's pictured. What can I say, I guess their mother went a bit overboard one Christmas or we told too many people that our kids liked Thomas and we ended up with all of this stuff. Perhaps I should say that our children are big fans of precious stones and metals this holiday season?

So we're clear- this set is NOT for your avid collector. It's been played with by toddlers for starters, the stuff is clean but I can't say it's in mint condition cause I know how you Thomas the Tank nerds get in a tizzy over small imperfections. Also, the tracks are mostly made by that other company that makes the compatible/rip-off knock-offs tracks, but it works- right? So who cares if it's worth anything? Let your kids play instead of spoiling them with rare and valuable collector pieces and "gotta have them" trains. They're 3-6 years for cripe's sake!!

Please don't send me an email asking me which character trains I have. The truth is that I have no clue. I found Thomas to be almost as inane and insipid as those furry magical farting creatures called, Boo-Bah. If you press me, I'll probably just make up names like "Rocco the Union Worker Tank" who won't carry any payloads until he's guaranteed overtime and a half plus 2 extra weeks of vacation or "Benny the Surly Caboose" who's been put away in storage at the station for sexual harassment of Sassy Sally the Streamline Train. (And that's when I'm in a good mood!) Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the anthropomorphism of inanimate objects as they can make apt metaphors for the ills of society. It's just that smiley, happy trains depress me. It may have to do with the fact that I believe that the railroads were the harbinger of the large corporate monopolies that rule our lives with such a heavy fist and suppress the middle class- but I digress .

There's no reserve, shipping will cost $19.95 and I will ship by UPS ground. That means no HI, AK or US Territories like Guam unless you're willing to fork some extra scratch for me to send it by US Mail. That also means you need to give me a street address and not a PO box. You'd be surprised at how many num-nuts don't read the instructions and still attempt to give me PO Boxes or ask me dumb questions like, "How much is shipping?".

Good luck with your bidding- I truly hope the highest bidder wins.
Should be interesting to see if cranky sells. We'll see by next week....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Poll Vaulting

In some ways you have to feel sorry for telemarketers and pollsters. The poor schmucks are forced to read from a script and can't really stray from it. They also have to get as many calls in as possible. More calls means more contacts and more contacts means more results or sales. I question the logic of a mid-level manager making their telephone people work so fast as often the person talks so fast and with such monotone that they sound like the end of a radio commercial for an auto dealership. "Taxestagsandregistrationfeesareextra$200amonthleaseisbasedonhighercreditscoresthantheaverageperson

The problem, of course, is when such a person ends up getting me on the phone while I am in a slightly manic mood....

The week before we left for our trip to Florida, I received a call asking me if I had 10 minutes to answer a few questions about the upcoming election. It was my first political poll ever and I was excited to get my opinions heard on the latest national trackers. My hopes were dashed rather quickly when I realized I had a fast talker who couldn't deviate from his script. Here for your entertainment is the paraphrased conversation that we had.

Pollster: Are you a male between the ages of 26-50?

Me: yes

Pollster: Are you a permanent resident of Pennsylvania?

Me: yes

Pollster: On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means very likely and 1 means very unlikely, how likely are you to vote in the upcoming election on November 4th?

Me: I don't know how to answer that, I've already voted by absentee ballot.

Pollster: 10 is very likely and 1 is very unlikely

Me: Well, it's not a matter of likelihood, it's a matter of certainty at this point.

Pollster (starting to realize he's run into some trouble): Excuse me?

Me: If you want to ask me how certain I am that I've voted in the election then you can put me down down as a 9, but that's only because I don't trust the postman- he can be cranky at times.

Pollster: well, we're asking how likely it is that you'll vote in the election coming up on the 4th of November.

Me: ..and I'm informing you that I've already voted since I will be away on the 4th and sent in an absentee ballot, so it's not really about how likely it is as it's already happened. Isn't there an option for already voted?

Pollster: No, you must answer on a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being very...

Me (interrupting him): Yes, yes, I know, but since you can't seem to deviate from the script, we'll compromise and say that I am a 10 and I am very likely to vote in the upcoming election, even though it would technically be a lie.

Pollster (breathes a sigh of relief): Next question, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means very likely and 1 means very unlikely, how likely are you to vote for Barack Obama in the upcoming election on November 4th?

Me: Well, again it's not a matter of likelihood here as I've already voted for...

Pollster: CLICK

Me: Hello? Hello?

Guess, he felt he could hit his quota with someone less demanding. No wonder the polls are never very accurate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A brief history of time spent in Orlando

Funny how you go away for a week and when you come back you have a new president-elect that's the first African-American to achieve the honor. I wish I had a dime every time that's happened to me. The last time I did a travel log on a trip I took it ended up being a series of the most boring blog posts I ever seen, let alone created. But, alas, I do have some things to say. While I will spare you a 5 part post on my family vacation/business trip, I will give a somewhat brief summary of my experiences in the Magic Kingdom and trade show.

One of the most apparent things during our trip was the astounding amount of people that we saw that were wearing Phillies' championship T-shirts and hats. I actually packed a bunch of my own shirts and hats to wear whilst down there as I wished to tease the nearby Tampa Rays fans. It appeared that there were much more Phillies' fans in the parks and surrounding areas. Often, as you'd pass a fan by you'd hear them shout, "Go Phillies!!" or "Number 1!!" It was nice to see and feel some Phillies excitement despite the fact I was in another state.

The trip overall was fun with a few exceptions. The two things that really bummed me out during the trip was the fact that trade shows suck the life out of you and destroy your feet because you're standing for hours and the realization that my children are huge whiny brats. The feet pain I'm used to as I've done countless trade shows by now. The main difference this time is that I had to walk all over the theme parks after destroying my feet making them feel even worse. The whiny brat thing didn't really catch me off guard as I know that my kids can be a real pain at times, it was just dumbfounding in the fact that we were in Disney World, having boatloads of fun and they still managed to find things to complain about. (lots of things!)

My younger son, Gabriel, is a shop-a-holic and didn't want to do anything but shop in gift stores. We gave the kids $60 each and told them that they had to budget what they bought as souvenirs. As a result my older son, Jonathan, was terrified to buy anything as he would lose his budget and Gabriel, who has no foresight whatsoever, would have blown all the money in the 1st hour, had we let him. Nevertheless, we had a few a blow ups along the way but eventually found our stride and had fun at the parks.

The Tower of Terror was great as usual and the new Everest ride was great and surprising. For Disney the crowds were actually very low and I think the longest we waited for a ride was 40 minutes. Most lines were 30 minutes at the most and we used the fast pass option well. I did get to meet up with an old high school friend for an hour at the hotel pool as in a weird coincidence she was also at the same resort.

Aside from the Disney parks, we did go out and see Medieval Times for dinner one night. Although very touristy, it had a nice schmaltzy charm to it and the sword play and pretend jousts were fun to watch. Imagine the WWE with sword play and with out the managers. A funny aside was that my wife purchased a 32 dollar foo-foo drink in a HUGE margarita glass. The type of glass that you could safely house 6 goldfish and a water turtle in. We managed to get the sucker home as a carry-on item on the plane and it now sits proudly on my bar in the basement.

The trip was great but now I am at work and have too much to do and add the fact that I've put off doing it to blog about this.

I need a vacation for my vacation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm going to Disney World!!

As much as I would love to make a nice long descriptive post about my kick ass time at the World Series, I just have too much to do today as I'm leaving for a part business/part pleasure trip to Orlando on Monday. So, yes, the Phils won the series and I get to scream at the camera that I'm going to Disney World. That means if I don't get a chance to post this weekend , I'll most likely not be making a post until at least the 11th. But have no fear, they're be plenty to talk about then. We'll have a new president-elect, lots of fun Disney stories to tell, and I still have a few things in store for you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I was there!!!

I saw it all!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Freeze Frame

I actually received 2 emails asking why I hadn't blogged about game 5 of the World Series and it's suspension. I'll take it as a compliment when people are actually interested in what you have to write and miss it when I don't do it. To be honest I just couldn't organize my thoughts yesterday to write anything worthwhile on the subject. (I hear you laughing in the background, "..and since when has that stopped you?!")

I was stunned.

Imagine yourself in this scenario-

You're a huge Phillies fan and finally everything seems to be falling into place. They get to the World Series, go up 3-1, they have their ace pitcher on the mound for the next game and you get to go there. You get to see it all. You'll be there if they win and cheer as they jump up and down after the final out and then bring out the trophy. You'll be there with thousands of other fans just as excited as you are. Needless to say I walked around with a big stupid shit-eating grin on my face all day Monday.

You decide to go to the game early to tailgate a little bit and arrive in Lot K. You barely are able to get into the lot despite being there 3 1/2 hours before game time. It is a huge party atmosphere and everyone is ecstatic. You are with your 3 best friends and they are also excited and having a good time. You eat some hoagies, drink some beer, toss around a football in the lot and a few other freinds come up to meet you and party with you. There's a light drizzle the whole time and it's quite cold, but you couldn't care less. At 8pm you gleefully trot into the ballpark.

The park is absolutely electric, you're screaming and cheering before you even get to your seats. You're suddenly friends with 45,000 people you haven't met before. You high five complete strangers as they announce the lineups. They shoot off some fireworks during the national anthem and the Phils quickly put up 2 runs in the first inning. Cole is pitching great so you start to feel it, you're anticipating the championship.

And then the rain starts to fall harder. You pull out your poncho and keep mostly dry. Your shoes do get soaked and start to freeze in the bitter cold but you don't mind as you cheer and scream the whole game. Your friend, Mike, looks like a drowned rat and is shivering but he still finds the energy to shout things like, "Make them eat it Cole!" and "Stick it in there Shane!!" The weather even creates some horrible plays like an easy pop up that gets blown away from Rollins' glove. Puddles start to form in the infield as the grounds crew keeps running out there and putting more dirt on the base paths. The weather is the worst you've ever seen a baseball game being played in but the umps don't stop it.

The Rays manage to eke out a run to tie the game in the 6th as Cole clearly can't throw his best pitch, a change-up, since it requires a firm grip that is impossible to do in a nor' eastern storm. But still, you aren't miserable because you know the Phillies offense will come thru and win the game.

"There's no stopping us now!", you think to yourself just moments before you see the grounds crew grab the tarp and roll it out.

Bud Selig just hit the pause button.

When you have such a build up of emotion and excitement for something to happen and then your feelings have to be shelved for two days, it leaves you stunned, confused, a little angry and exhausted. It's like stopping yourself midstream while you pee - it isn't easy, it hurts and it probably isn't healthy to do it. I'm still amazed I didn't end up with blue balls after the game. At least if they lost, I still would have experienced some sort of release. I would have blamed a player or the manager and been upset until the next game, but I could have moved on. I'm not saying that I'd prefer a loss (oh God no!), I'm trying to describe what being in limbo feels like. No wonder limbo is often on the path to hell.

Neither did I want Selig to call the game and have the Phillies win it on the 5 inning rule. It's not like you want to tell your grandkids that you were there when the announced it over the PA system that the Phillies won the series. I understand the pickle that Selig was in, but he still is the commissioner and he should have started the game an hour early or suspended the game sooner.

So, here I sit, all pent up and ready again to see it all. The forecast looks clear, a bit windy and cold, but they should get the game complete. The Phils do have the advantage as they have 4 innings of at bats to the Rays' 3 innings. I still may get to see it all, but it would have just taken 52 hours to do it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

One more official retraction

Back at the trade deadline I had quite a strong reaction to the Phillies trading two very good prospects for Joe Blanton. In the comments section I mentioned that I hoped I was proven wrong.

I appears after the second half of the season and this postseason that I was indeed proven wrong.

I'm sorry Pat Gillick and I'm sorry Joe Blanton. You were decent enough to get us some wins and make the playoffs (Phillies were 11-4 in games he started) and have done very well in the post season, winning all 3 games you've pitched. IF the Phillies win it all tonight or this week, then you have to love the trade, even if Cardenas becomes a Hall of Famer. The ultimate goal is the trophy on the wall, after all.

I couldn't have planned it any better, just one more game

When I got my playoff ticket invoice in the mail and saw that I had game 5 of the World Series if the Phils won the NL pennant I remarked to myself that it would be cool if that game would be the clinching win for the series. 6 weeks later I am sitting in anticipation of going to the ball park where the Phillies send their best pitcher, Cole Hamels, out to the mound to win the championship clinching game of the World Series.




Cross your fingers folks, I just may be at the park the moment the Phils win it all!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm tired

Didn't get to sleep until at least 2:30AM last night. I stayed up to watch the Phils' win their second World Series game in a bizarre fashion of errors and strange managerial decisions. I'm somewhat subdued as a result due to the lack of sleep. I'm hoping that this all pays off and I'm standing in section 206 of Citizen's Bank Park tomorrow night as the Phils win it all. One can hope.

Since I'm tired I thought I'd post some things that I'm tired of seeig or hearing about or experiencing lately....

Things that I'm tired of:

The umpires' horrible and game effecting calls for this series.

The "Save by Zero" advertising campaign by Toyota.

The Phillies' inability to hit with runners in scoring position so far this series.

McCain/Palin lawn signs strewn everywhere on my way to work.

Tim McCarver and Joe Buck

Lil' Green Plant gift requests on Facebook

Lazy sports journalism where the writer from an opposing city reports on how horrible the Philly fan is and how we booed Santa Claus and throw batteries.

Artificial turf and domed stadiums for baseball.

My brother telling me what big game it is tonight and then yukking it up by saying he meant Penn State or the Flyers, etc.

Seeing low gas prices but not seeing prices on other things drop like UPS rates.

Political pollsters who read from a script. (I'll go into this one later this week)

Itchy dogs that lick and bite themselves in the middle of the night.

This throbbing hangover headache I'm experiencing at this very moment.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

An Utley and Hamels production

In my opinion the Phils' best position player and best pitcher are 2nd baseman Chase Utley and ace pitcher Cole Hamels. Both players are making me look good as they were the big heroes last night along with bullpen stoppers, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. It was a nail biter of a game. The Phillies were able to get on base but just couldn't get runners in and set a record by going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position. If not for Utley's 2 run homerun blast in the 1st inning and Ruiz's RBI grounder, there would have been no scoring for the Phillies.

Speaking of no scoring, Hamels held off the high offensive power of the Rays to just 2 runs and then Madson and Lidge came in the game and shut them down in a hurry. Hamels has become one of the elite World Series pitchers for the ages having received his 4th post season win. He will be the first starter to get 5 wins if he does it again. (Randy Johnson got 5 but one win was in relief)

Now that my summary is out of the way, let me say this-




Winning game one while playing away and with your ace on the mound is huge- you need to win those games. It takes some pressure off of Myers, who can be a huge head case. It guarantees a split before you come back home. And it's first blood. They made a statement last night. Again, the majority of experts are picking against the Phils. Yes, the Rays are the toughest opponent yet in the post season, but to easily dismiss this team is a huge mistake in my opinion. Game 2 two is tonight, I'm feeling greedy and want another win- Let's go Phils!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mets fans still bitter

I know this sounds like I'm making this up but I swear it's true-

So, on my lunch break I go to The Sports Authority in Warrington to get a Phillies sweatshirt to wear on Monday night since I am attending game of the World Series in person. I didn't want to get so cold and I still want to show my Phils' colors. IWhile I was there, in a manic-induced buying spree, I also decided to buy the Phillies hat with the "2008 World Seroes" patch. I've become a real big hat wearer since I've given up on having hair in the past year, so I figured it was worth buying.

On way back, I'm on Route 611 North and I get behind a Saturn sedan with the license plate "METSPHN". I think to myself that the gall that this douchebag would have to combine the "PH" with anything Mets related. So I get in the right lane and pull up next to the car with intentions of harassing him.

To my surprise, the driver was a late 50's early 60's woman that was 5 foot 1 at talelst- In other words, she was a little old lady. Not to be deterred by this discovery and to prove that I am neither an ageist nor a sexist, I went ahead with my heckling. I honked the horn a few times and took off my new hat and pointed to the WS patch. The woman immediately scowled at me and then hit the gas. She pulled ahead and then the bitchswerved into my lane, cutting me off, and flipped me the bird!!

I guess she wasn't too happy being reminded of the last two years?

Game one tonight folks!! Let's go Phillies!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Things that are 100% Real American

I've tried my best to avoid politics in my blog but every now and then, I see or hear something that just gets my goat enough to say something. Lately, the republicans have been throwing the words "Real American" around as if it means rural, God-fearing, hunting on the weekends, and hard working blue collar, white men. In an effort to create an us against them type of attitude they've dangerously crafted an atmosphere of not-so-subtle racism and anti-intellectualism. I honestly don't know if they're just trying to fire up the base or if they honestly think that they can appeal to undecided voters with such clap-trap.

So, in a an effort to clarify what is indeed a real American, the following is a list of things that are completely 100% American.





Comic strips and books

Square dancing



Rock N Roll


Mickey Mouse

Bugs Bunny

Fake Poop gags



Blue Crab







EDIT: Baseball & Poker (sheesh, how could I forget my two favorite hobbies?)

I could go on, but my point remains the same. That's quite an eclectic list and it includes all ethnic groups and by nature all American culture is a mixture or melding of different cultures.

So, please, let's cut the crap and stop talking about "Real Americans" as if it applies to one distinct group of people. The last thing we need to do is to divide ourselves instead of what real Americans actually do best- which is work and live together while maintaining in our own diversity.

Pinch me

Sexual innuendos put aside, I would like a good hard pinch to see if I'm dreaming. Tomorrow I get to watch the Phillies play in the World Series. It's been 15 years since the Phils last went to the World Series and 28 years since they won the whole enchilada. All in all, it's been 25 years since the last Philly championship in any of the 4 major sports. To say that I'm edgy, nervous, excited and elated all at the same time is somewhat of an understatement. I usually have guarded enthusiasm but now I'm willing to throw it all out there and pin my hopes on this team.

With free agency in today's sports you often don't get to see players come up through the minors and grow into stars and stay on the team for most of their careers. What's somewhat special about this team is that the Phils have quite alot of their stars come from their own system or players that that got their first real shot with them. Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels, Madson, Ruiz, Myers and Burrell are all guys that came up from the Phils' minor league system. Guys like Dobbs, Victorino, Coste and Werth are players who didn't do much of anything in the majors until they played with the Phils and are now integral parts of the team. This makes it more fun to root for the team as you feel more attachment to the players. Unlike the Yankees, Mets or Red Sox who overpay for their players, the Phillies have mostly grown and scouted their talent.

I can't say that I've been happy with the front office all of these years, but I need to give credit now before I change my mind. So, thanks Pat Gillick, Dave Montgomery, Ruben Amaro, Mike Arbuckle and even Ed Wade (who built the core of this team before getting canned). No matter what happens in the series, I haven't enjoyed baseball this much in a long time.

The Rays will be a hard team to beat, but I think the Phightin's have a real good shot to win in 6. Even better would be to win in 5 so I can personally see them win and have my car overturned in Lot K during the riots and celebrations. (meh, it's worth it, it's why we have insurance) Cross your fingers and give out a cheer- tomorrow is game one people!!