Monday, June 30, 2008

I see dead people

In honor of George Carlin's passing, NBC reran the very first episode of Saturday Night Live this past weekend. I watched most of it and I was astounded to see how many people on the show that are now no longer with us. Sure it's been 33 years, but here is a list of people of the top of my head on that show who are now dead.

Michael O'Donohue-originally a Not Ready for Prime Time player (for 2 weeks) and eventually a head writer, he opened the show with Belushi and Chase.

John Belushi- the first big death of the original cast. I was surprised at how low key he was in the 1st episode.

George Carlin- he was the host, yet he didn't appear in any sketches that I saw. He did parts of his stand up including on how baseball and football differ. I had his stand up on cassette tape back in high school and I would listen to it often.

Jim Henson- While he was only on for a year Jim Henson and his Muppets (no Kermit or Fozzie tho) were a regular feature of the show. I really miss Jim and his imagination and craft.

Gilda Radner- one of the funniest comedians, male or female there was.

Billy Preston- he was a musical guest, the man played with Beatles and was a legend all on his own.

Andy Kaufman- this warped genius made his TV debut with his Mighty Mouse routine, part of me thinks he's still alive and laughing at us.

Interesting note- George Carlin was 38 (my age) when he hosted the show---AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Thought of the day

We are probably the last generation or the next to the last generation of people who will die from natural causes.

If you think about the fast speed of technology, computers, medical science and genetics, someone somewhere will figure out how to stop aging or transfer our brains into a computer or revitalize our bodies towards immortality. The question is when and not if. If I had to guess, sometime by 2060 we'll have discovered how to stop aging and therefore people will only die from accident, disease or design (like war).

The consequences are many, the gap between class will increase even more and humans will evolve through their own design rather than by natural selection. Unfortunately I think me and my peers will just miss the chance to be ageless. Perhaps my children will, I wonder how they will honor the dead as it will become even more rare.

Friday, June 27, 2008

RIP Oogley Googley

My children have just experienced their first pet death. We have had three gold fish since September and last night I noticed that the one that had bulging eyes looked white and was limp and caught in the filter. His cause of death is unknown but hey, it's a fish and I'm not doing an autopsy on the way to the toilet. My nonchalance attitude about Oogley Googley's demise was quite the opposite reaction that my children had.

The kids were brushing their teeth before bed and I informed Lynn as to the dead fish. She grabbed the net and scooped him into a container and we decided to let the kids say goodbye before flushing him away to his final watery grave.

"Jonathan and Gabriel" Lynn said as she walked into the bathroom with the corpse, "I have some bad news, Oogley Googley has died." (Try saying that with a straight face!!)

Immediately both kids started bawling and howling as if they were told I was dead or all of their Pokemon cards burned up in a freak fire. Tears streamed down their faces as they loudly lamented the news of his death. While I wasn't expecting them to be happy about the news, I was somewhat shocked about how hard they took it. Their wails were reminiscent of Muslim women at funerals in the middle east. They were bawling so loudly that it became comical to my wife and I and I even had to leave the room to laugh as Lynn hugged them close so she could smile without them seeing. I know that sounds insensitive but the complete overreaction was a sight to behold. It was just a fish after all.

Nevertheless, we consoled them as best as we could as toothpaste dribbled out of their crying mouths. Jonathan informed us that he may want to stay home the next day so he could grieve. I would've thought it was good angle shoot but his concern was genuine so I didn't answer him right away. They seemed fine this morning and they went to camp seemingly unaffected.

They expressed their wishes that if we were to get another fish that we would honor him and name him Oogley Googley II. Death hits us all differently. In some ways having fish is a good growth tool as children can learn about mortality without having true tragedy.

So, thanks for brightening our lives a little bit Oogley Googley, it was nice knowin' ya!

Oogley Googley

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Welcome to the club, Matt!

My oldest friend is a guy named Matt. He and I have known each other since Kindergarten in Philly and then across the street from me in Richboro. (Both our families moved away from NE Philly at the same time to the same area) Matt is a great guy with a good sense of humor and a really solid foundation of ethics. If there's anyone in this world I can count on to do the right thing it would be Matt. Matt just recently had his first child, a lovely baby girl.

So congrats Matt! Welcome to the club!



Fighting the fog of depression

As I mentioned previously my depression swings tend to be a reversed mania where I get agitated and annoyed easily due to some rapid cycling thoughts. But every once in a blue moon I get a "normal" depression swing. The type where you just want to sleep all day, not deal with anyone or anything, it's tough to concentrate, you think in terms of pity and sorrow and your brain feels "foggy".

In the old days I would literally go hide in a closet or wallow somewhere for a few days until good ole mania would return and bring me up and outta bed. These days I either don't have the luxury to pay attention to my depression or somehow I've learned to fight through it by sticking to routine. Perhaps over the years of trying to mask my true insanity I've been able to apply good acting skills to any emotion that I don't wish to convey. I'd bet if you were to ask my wife this week if I am down in the dumps she'd answer that I wasn't.

Basically this week has been a struggle as it feels like I am walking my way through a thick morass of sticky cotton candy. Thankfully, I never get suicidal and I know that my depression pales in comparison to what millions of people go through on a daily basis. I guess in some ways my manic tendencies "save" me from really getting stuck in a rut.

I know this blog entry comes off as sounding whiny but that's the way I get sometimes, I'm sure most of us do. Part of blogging for me is being able to look at myself in a frank manner. I doubt I help anyone through blogging but nonetheless I feel it's important to be open.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thanks for the super geniuses

I'm sitting here watching Nova on PBS and they are talking about dark matter and how they know it exists or else we're completely wrong about the laws of gravity. It's invisible and so far undetectable, yet these scientists are building underground super freezers to detect it. Blah blah blah...

I consider myself a smart guy and while i can understand what they're talking about on shows like Nova, I can't fathom what sort of intelligence it takes to even consider stuff like dark matter. These are people who are super geniuses and represent such a small segment of the population yet they do so much for mankind. These are people who likely are very good at being social yet they continue to contribute in ways that the general public aren't even aware.

99.9999% of us go about our daily routines without worrying about string theory or even how our TV's get pictures, cars drive us to where we need to go, or why dark matter is 5 times more prevalent than ordinary matter. But these super geniuses have their synapses firing on all cylinders and invent, create, theorize and make our lives better.

Thank you super geniuses, you're better than I am and I appreciate what you do for us.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Get the fuck outta the fast lane!!

To honor the recently departed George Carlin-

"Anyone who drives slower than you is an idiot and anyone who drives faster than you is a maniac!"

If you include bathroom breaks, fast food stops and gas fill ups I drove a combined 21 hours in the last 4 days on my trip to Greenville SC and back. 12 hours on Thursday and 9 hours on Sunday (Lynn drove for 2 hours) I've recently been in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington DC and Delaware. (Trivia question- which of those states wasn't part of the 13 colonies?) I've seen gas pricing range from $4.33 a gallon to $3.67 a gallon. It was the sort of drive the sucks the life out of you. Admittedly, however, it doesn't come close to being as bad my 60 hours on a plane in 10 days that I once did on a trip to Asia. I really did try to make it go quicker but it's next to impossible to do some real speeding in the Atlantic corridor. The way down we took the PA turnpike to route 81 to route 77 to route 85. Almost the whole way was 2 lanes of traffic. We took route 85 all the way to 95 to get home. It was slightly faster but we had a decent amount of traffic to contend with for a Sunday.

My luck was the worst when it came to passing people. It seemed like trucks were driving side by side to make it impossible to pass. Plus they'd seemed to jump out in front of you at the last minute. Either that or you were constantly running into clusters. You'd have a good mile of driving by yourself on the highway at 85 mph and then you'd have about 10-20 cars all bunched up together for 5 miles. Unless you weaved in and out like Speed Racer or just pushed on the horn to get people out of your way you got stuck going slow. I guess some people feel safer when they have others in front of them or near them instead of driving out in the open. But the most annoying part is that people just will not get out of the passing lane when you move up behind them.

ARRRGHHH!! I really hate that! Get the fuck outta my way dammit!!

Whenever I see someone coming up behind me in my rear view mirror I move over to the right lane as soon as there is an opening. It's common courtesy and it's also the law in most states. Sure, my lead foot isn't exactly legal, but move over and you won't have to deal with me anymore.

At least the kids were about as best behaved as possible for a 12 hour drive. The DVD player helped, but even still I commend their demeanor as I have awful memories of me and my brother Duane constantly fighting in the car on vacations.

"Mom! Duane's touching me!!"

"Brian won't get his foot off my book!"

"Stop making faces at me!"

"Are we there yet?"

Duane and I used to fight over who sat in the seat behind my dad because the other side was considered the "hitting" side. He couldn't reach behind himself to whack whoever was misbehaving, so he would just hit whoever was sitting behind my mom whenever one of us would start complaining about the other. You definitely can see the strategic importance of sitting behind dad as you could be the aggressor without much punishment. Although, if you really did push your luck you'd get it good once you got out of the car and I do remember both of us getting a good beating one time when my dad pulled over to the side of the road because we were being so bad.

My kids hardly complained about how long it was taking at all and they got along fine. I must be a better father than my dad, especially since my kids don't argue on who gets to sit on the hitting side.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Out of office alert! Gonna go see the wife's kin.

Lynn's cuz in South Carolina is having his 25th anniversary party this weekend. As a result, I'm stuffing the kids in the car tomorrow morning and making the 10+ hour trek to Greenville. I doubt that I'll be posting any blog entries during this long weekend. I also hope that the moonshine will not make me go blind.

Have a good weekend.

Attack of the PG-13 superhero movies

My son Jonathan loves superheroes just as much as the next 9 year old boy. I was a big comic book nerd myself (and still am) back in the day. This summer we have the pleasure of having 4 superhero movies. 3 of which are direct from the comics- Iron Man, Batman (The Dark Knight), and The Incredible Hulk. (the Will Smith acted Hancock being the original material) He has been relentlessly bugging me that he wants to see these films.

Sadly for Jonathan all 4 movies are rated PG-13. Which basically means that I have to watch all 4 movies before I allow him to see it- just to be on the "good parenting" side of things. I'm fairly sure he'll be fine (altho, his 7 year old brother may not be) with the cartoonish violence and sexual innuendos. After all, he's still a well adjusted kid after seeing all 3 Spiderman movies and the Transformers. Movies that had impalings, all around scary moments, kissy-poos and masterbatory jokes. I'm also fairly sure that he knows more than he lets on. Even still, I sense that the birds and bees talk is right around the corner.

Looking back, I recall seeing R rated movies while I was under 13. My friend Adam was the rich kid who had a Beta-max (lol) before most of us even knew of VCR's and we got to see movies like Animal House, Airplane and Caddyshack on video tape. I may be a sick twist, but I doubt my mental illness is derived from being exposed to breasteses at an early age. Heck, my dad even had a subscription to Playboy and I got to sneak in his room and got many a gander at the Full Mindy. Later, as I turned 13, my family splurged to get cable and the PRiSM premium channel. I eventually discovered the wonderful world of soft-core porn that was readily available at 2AM. Thus I know know that If I'm not careful with Jonathan's internet activities he will eventually be exposed to free online porn with animals, foot fetishes and bukakke parties.

Unfortunately for me, I really don't have the time to get to see the movies in the theater anymore and I was a BIG movie goer before rearing children. I'm sure as both kids get into their tweens and up, I'll be able to expand my movie viewing pleasure and be able to go out to the theater more since they will be able to go with me. I believe the first R rated movie I saw with my Dad at the theater was Revenge of the Nerds. I think I may have even glanced over to see if he laughed at the "hair pie" joke for his approval. I felt more "adult" that day for having been viewed as someone who can be mature enough to handle frat party immaturity.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Genetically altered bugs that poop oil

Sounds crazy, right?

It's true!

I found that news story linked on a message board today. To summarize for the lazy-genetically altered yeast producing bacteria and E. Coli Bacteria can ferment sugars to produce carbonless petroleum. The company has just started and obviously mass production isn't possible at this stage, but they could conceivably produce oil at $50 a barrel (current pricing is over $138).

The wonderful thing about capitalism is that if you have a need, someone ultimately fills that need. While a totally unchecked free market creates some inequity and problems (ie. Enron), it does come thru in the clutch.

I look forward to putting bug poop into my car and I hope I see the day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Manufactured Commercial Holiday!!

Not that I don't mind getting some extra attention and pampering from the family but Father's day is made to sell cards, ties and tools. I try to honor my father the best way I can without being too sappy. As sardonic as he is, he wouldn't want some sanguine card with a contrived message anyways. I feel the same way and I prefer that if they wish to express their love and appreciation today that they spend some time with me or just give me a hug. It doesn't take much to make someone feel wanted and appreciated, it's a shame that we need holidays as a reminder. Nonetheless, if you're dad or have a dad- spend some time together and have a great father's day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yet another poker report

Played in a home cash game last night (Lottery Larry again) and will be playing in a tournament at my house tomorrow night.


While I wasn't a huge winner by any stretch, I definitely made some plays that I liked. One hand in particular I think I made a nice read. The blinds were $0.50/$1.00 and I was in on the cut off position and looked down at pocket tens. The hand was limped once or twice to the guy to my right. (it was a night of lots of limping, which ultimately if you can play better post flop pays very well.) He put in a raise to $4 and was playing rather loosely up most of the night and had no problems raising with 10 9 offsuit. I decided to pop it again as I didn't think he had a real hand. To my dismay the small blind called rather quickly and then the original raiser also called.
At least I had position on both of them!

The flop cam a low and ragged one. I believe the board was 2 4 6 all different suits. Both my opponents checked. There's no way anyone was playing a 3 5 or even low pocket pairs. Plus the more I thought about it, there really was only one hand that was conceivable that was currently beating me- pocket jacks. I firmly believed that if either of my opponents had a bigger pocket pair than jacks that they would have reraised me preflop. I just didn't think either player was capable of slow playing aces in that spot with a raise and reraise. My opponents range of holdings was down to JJ, 10 10, 9 9, 8 8, AK, & AQ, all of which I beat except the jacks.

Needless to say I liked my lot in life just then and put in a strong bet. There was 39 dollars in the pot so I put in about 2/3rds of the pot ($26). If either one had an underpair I get some more money into the pot with a call, if they have the jacks they're likely to push all in and I have to make a big decision. If they have AK or AQ they'll likely fold and I push out out their chance of hitting one of their overcards. I threw out the bet and both folded after some hemming and hawing. Both later said that they both had AK. Had I had my x-ray glasses I think I wouldve only thrown out 1/3rd of teh pot and hoped to get a call, but nonetheless I played it properly and made a good read. It's moments of realization like these that make you appreciate the game.

Here's hoping I make some similar ones tomorrow night.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Happy Birthday Lynn!!

My wife turns 32 today and damn, does she look good. She looks better than when she was 27. She's worked hard to do that and I wish I could say the same thing about me.

Last week I put myself on yet another diet. Not a fad diet or pills or program of any sort. I've just decided to stop eating so many snacks and sweet stuff and just eat my meals and fruits and veggies. I've done it before and I just need to apply myself and have the wherewithall to stop myself from regaining the weight. Easier said than done, but if Lynn can do it, then I gotta try. Besides, I did successfully quit smoking, so it should be a piece of cake, right? (gotta watch those cliches, they're making me hungry!)

So happy birthday sweetie- I hope you don't mind if I don't eat any of your cake.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Things that are hot

1) The weather here in PA is just below 100 degrees

2) The Phillies are 12-2 in their last 14 games

3) I heard thru a source of mine (sorry can't give names, but he/she is someone with access) that Phish is indeed reuniting and are currently negotiating their next tour dates and how much each member will get paid.

4) Jessica Alba in 6 months, now that she gave birth.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Recap: Meeting a bunch of weirdos from the interwebs

You know when you stand for 3 hours in a parking lot in the rain trying to eat leftover potato salad made by a guy you never met before it's a weird moment in your life. Yet it was all very fun and very worth the time and effort I put into getting that Motley Crue together. It's been somewhat surreal posting the last 2 days at because I can put voices and faces to many of the posters now.

I highly recommend reaching out and taking a chance to meet new people. It's a skill that I've somewhat lost over the last ten to fifteen years as I no longer attend school and I work with just family. I hope to do this again next year.

Father's day gift suggestion

What can I say? I'm just sick of sweaty pubes this summer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

People are strange

Somehow I've pulled it off.

I've convinced 27 strangers to come together for a ballgame tomorrow night and meet each other and sit together.

Perhaps "strangers" is an unkind word for me to use. (but strange may be perfectly apt) Although I haven't met most of the people before, I do have a fairly good grip on what type of personality each person has. And then there's the common thread amongst us all- we're all Phillies fans.

I've never sat down and thought about how many hours I've wasted reading and posting my opinions and crazy ideas over at and it's a good thing too, because I would then realize how pathetically socially needy I am. Nonetheless, these people who are all coming together tomorrow night are people who in some strange fashion my friends. Yes, I am admitting that I am friends with people with names like Woody, Vox Orion, Houshphandzadeh, LongDrive, PhightOn! and Tenured Vulture. What's stranger is that they know me not as Brian but as The Red Tornado.

Despite the fact that I expect some akward pauses tomorrow night, I fully think we'll somehow find our usual common ground of being a Phillies fan and the conversation will flow just fine. Thus I'm excited about going to the game tomorrow as I will be joined by my fellow sufferers who haven't seen a championship since 1980 (heck, half off them weren't even born yet!).

If you're at the game, look for our name in lights.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Your 1st place Phillies (or Utley is a God)

It sure is nice to see our Phils in 1st place at the beginning of June instead being tortured until the last day of the season like last year. Chase Utley is on fire and currently leads the National league in home runs and all-star votes- Rogers Hornsby, eat your heart out. Our 2nd baseman is looking like he could get the 3rd MVP trophy in as many years for the Phils if he continues his play throughout the year.

Now wouldn't a World Series ring be a nice thing to pair with the MVP awards?

Crack is whack