Thursday, May 7, 2009

The voice

As I drifted to sleep last night I suddenly heard a voice that hadn't heard in 14 years. "Brian!" It screamed, it was the sound of my mother's voice as if she were calling me inside for dinner while I was playing. The tone and pitch was exact and it was shocking enough to rouse me awake for another half hour. Now, I know it was just some weird memory blip while I was entering a REM state, but the sound of my dead mother's voice felt incredibly real. After a brief moment of melancholy and missing my mother, I felt a warm secure feeling as if I was in the womb or being hugged by my mother as a child. I lay there peacefully as I finally drifted back to sleep.

I realize that some people would attribute my experience of hearing my dead mother's voice and subsequent warm and fuzzy feelings to the presence of a spirit or some sort of religious experience. Unfortunately for me, I can't make that illogical jump to such things. I will however never deny the unconditional love that most of experience with our mothers. I quite frankly don't care if it's just pure instinct or inbred for a mother to love her children with no strings attached. I can't dismiss the feeling and emotions that one gets from the purity of love that a mother has for her children.

So while this coming Sunday, Mother's Day, is largely a commercial holiday designed to sell flowers and cards, I firmly believe we should have a day to honor our mothers. While I can no longer personally thank my mother anymore I can honor and thank my wife Lynn for being just as good as mother to my children (if not, then better). My children absolutely dote on her and I can completely understand why.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trip to the Borgata poker report

For those who find my poker stories boring feel free to skip this post. This is a report I made and posted (and edited for here) for the 2+2 website.

Before I start, let me first say (so that there's no confusion) that I think that the Borgata is a great place to play poker and it is of my favorite casinos. The staff is friendly and great and I have no complaints whatsoever about the establishment itself or its employees.

The Characters:

Me- a fat guy who turns 39 the next dayy and went to go play poker yesterday to celebrate

Dave- a friend of mine who went along with him.

DB1- Douchebag number one, playing at the 100 + 20 tourney, a bit milder than the others. A man in his early 30's.

DB2- Douchebag number two, playing at a 1/2 NLHE table. A young feller with spiky hair and listening to an ipod.

DB3- Douchebag number three, playing at another 1/2 NLHE table. A guy with a foreign accent, I think it might have been French Canadian.

Supporting cast-

SGG- Sun glasses guy, almost a douchebag but mostly an insecure fish

OG1- Old guy one- an old guy in good shape who wore work out clothes. His bald head and good build made me think he looked like the Spiderman villian, The Vulture

OG2- Old guy two- wore a hat that he won for getting a royal flush (or so he told me)

OG3- Old guy three- this one had a full head of white curly hair.

BBG- Black bald guy, very nice guy who was a fish

MAW- Middle aged woman, a nice woman in her 40's who was actually a fairly solid player (altho somewhat predictable)

KMLA- Kirk Morrison look alike, a guy who resembled the poker player Kirk Morrison

8am, my wife, Lynn, got home from her night job and I left her and the kids behind as I excitedly embarked on my trip. I picked up my buddy and we drove down to the turnpike to route 76. Before getting off the blue route we listened to KYW's traffic report and heard no problems other than the usual rush hour BS (why is it always backed up at Girard, is everyone going to the zoo?!). I really should know better than to trust KYW. The traffic on 76 was about the worst I've seen in a while. By the time we got on to 76 the traffic was back up for miles due to the Penn Relays, which, of course was reported by KYW when it was too late for us.

Once we got to the bridge it was smooth sailing except for the 5, count 'em, 5 speed traps that we encountered on the AC expressway. I got lucky I wasn't pulled over as I was mostly doing 80 the whole way. The cops were out a few days early for the monthly quota I guess. We eventually made it to the Borgata just in time for the 11am tourney.

My buddy, Dave, was the one who wanted to play in the tourney and since he was the only person who could also take off a day from work to come with me so I felt obliged to play in the tourney with him. It was a $100 + 20 tourney and about 80 players played. I started off rather poorly and lost a few small pots as I watched my stack shrink to about 6500 (we started with 10K). I just couldn't hit anything and I kept getting dealt playable hands like AK and suited connectors to no avail. I also admit that my heart wasn't in the tourney, I just find them so tedious these days.

I decided that my ennui could be cured by some drinking. I asked the waitress what beers I could get and Heineken was the only free beer that wasn't swill, besides I started having fun that I could ask for a Heinie and get away without getting slapped. At my first table at the other end sat SGG. He built quite the chip stack as he was hitting some big hands and even double stacked two players at once. (hitting a flush draw of all things, they all got in on the turn) A fish with a big stack started to make me drool and I probably ended calling with some questionable hands just so I could get in a pot with him.

The first of which was when he made a min raise from UTG (under the gun, first to act preflop) and I was in the big blind with A4. He seemed only capable of min raising instead of making normal 3-4X's raises and even did as such after the flop, so i couldn't gleam any info from his small raise. It was folded to the SB who also called and I defended with my suited ace. The flop came A Q 4 rainbow and the SB checked and I fired out a bet of about 3/4 of the pot. SGG min raised and I just called. The turn was another queen and my 2 pair became counterfeited. I checked to SGG who put out only the minimum!! Based on pot odds alone I had to call, I think if he put in a pot sized bet I would have to get away from the hand. The river was a third queen which gave me a full house. I figured that it was going to be a chop but I threw in a pot sized bet anyways, if he raised me I would have called and hoped he didn't have AA or a Q. He called my bet begrudgingly and tabled his KK!! I scooped in a decent pot and my stack was healthy again.

He made some comments about how I sucked out on him but honestly, why was he in the pot after the flop? I ignored his comments and let him play in his fishy way.

Shortly after I was moved to another table and saw that they had quite a few big stacks including the guy to my right- DB1, who was the table chip leader.

I sat down and noticed DB1's huge stack and figured that he must be an aggressive player to get such a big stack that early. So my first hand I get dealt AK and I'm UTG+1 and DB1 was UTG. He puts in a raise so instead of flat calling I put in a reraise. I figure that my stack won't be effective very long with the antes and blinds climbing so fast. I was prepared to go to war against the big stack with my AK suited if need be. It gets folded around to DB1 and he reluctantly mucks. He mutters that he had pocket tens.

I immediately, say, "Really? You had me beat but it was close to a coin flip." He then gets incredibly indignant at my comment. "What?! You're an idiot. Why would you reraise me with AK or AQ?!" he continued to berate me for my "poor playing skills" (based on one hand!) for a good minute and I just ignored him. Unfortunately just 3 hands later I defended my big blind (to yet another min raise!) with A9 and flopped a set of 9's on a Q99 board. The money got in on the turn and I was all but drawing dead when the villain tables his QQ. C'est la vie I thought as I got up to go to the cash games. I overheard DB1 as I was leaving, "Stupid fish got what he deserved!" I almost stopped to say a few things but I only had 3 beers in me and thought better of it.

They opened a new table of 1/2 NLHE when I put my name in, so 9 of us all sat down to play together. I continued to order more Heinies and was starting to feel a bit looser. I debated trying to play LAG (loose aggressive style) but questioned my ability when I kept getting reraised by OG1. OG1 was a crafty old bastard (The Vulture!!) and I would have taken him on more if my spider sense was working. I did however end up winning a decent 120 pot from the guy to my right. It was probably my biggest pot of the night and it was just a matter of having 2 pair to his TPTK. Right after winning that pot my buddy came over from busting out at the tourney and sat down at another 1/2 table. He soon called me over as there was an empty seat next to him. I was actually enjoying the table I was at but, alas, friendship called and I switched tables. I was up about $75 at this point.

By this point I was inebriated enough to start my silly drunk guy routine. I am bipolar so I'm apt to say weird things by nature anyways so when I get some alcohol in me I tend to be jokey and silly. Most of the players at the table didn't seem to mind and laughed at most of my jokes. (altho to Dave's chagrin and embarrassment) I also got friendly with a lot of the staff and dealers. I recall a tall black waitress with HUGE boobs that liked to sing as she delivered drinks. I felt she was a kindred spirit and I encouraged her singing and told her that and asked if she took requests. Unfortunately, she wasn't familiar with Phish or Umphrey's McGee and she continued with her R&B singing. I also remember telling every dealer that I had that they were the best dealer in the world after every pot that I won. I didn't win any big pots or stacked anyone the whole night but I did manage to win a lot of little pots.

One strange thing that did occur was that a hand got heads up to me and Dave. The flop had two spades so I remarked in a joking way that "I should check my hand for spades." and I then peeked at my hole cards again. When I looked up I saw that the turn and river were dealt. (the board was J T 8 T J) I blurted out, "What?! What happened?!" The dealer replied that I said that "we would check it down" and I guess the dealer figured out that me and my buddy were friends and thought we would soft play each other. Dave and I looked at each other and didn't know what to do. After some debate we decided to play it from the river and since I had a Jack I threw in a small bet. My friend called with a T and I guess I lost out on a big pot due to the dealer's mistake/mishearing me. I didn't mind so much since it was my friend after all but I did politely inform the dealer that I don't soft play and don't think anyone else should.

A few hands later DB2 sat down with his head phones on so loud you could hear the music from the headphones.

Some new players joined us at this point. OG2 came to the table and he was an older gentlemen that I recognized from the tourney. He was wearing what I call a cabbie/paperboy hat. The type of hat that you see in movies in the 20's where the paperboy is yelling, "Extra, Extra!! Read all about it!" or the cab drivers that say, "Where to mac?" also where them. I actually own one myself, so I complimented him on his hat and he then went on tell me that the Borgata gave it to him when he hit a royal flush. He kind of reminded me of Studs Terkel and shortly after he came to our table I noticed he was napping.

BBG was also there and was donking it up and playing most hands. I chatted him up and he was a super nice guy. Unfortunately for me he would get lucky every time we got involved in a hand together and would take my chips and then donk them off in the next hand to another player. The dynamic of the table seemed fine and dandy at this point, we had OG2 napping, BBG was creating some action and I was Mr. Chatty Fun Guy. That was until DB2 got into a hand with BBG...

I was on the button and DB2 was in middle position and it was folded or limped around to him. He raised it to $12 and my buddy and I folded and so did the SB. BBG in BB called for $10 more and then the limpers folded. The flop came:


BBG checked, DB2 threw out a pot sized bet and BBG called

J on the turn

BBG checked, DB2 threw out a pot sized bet and BBG called

river was a blank (maybe a ten?)

BBG had less than the pot left but still checked, DB2 raised enough to put him all in and BBG called right away.

DB2 tabled KK, BBG tabled 62o and scooped the pot.

DB2 went quiet at first and then a moment later mumbled, "You called with that?"

BBG- "Yes I did"

DB1-"You called my preflop raise with that?!- Nice play!" He said in a sarcastic tone.

Personally I really hate this. Yes it's obvious to most of us at the table that BBG is a donk. Yes, he called with a bad hand preflop with stacks that don't warrant a call there. Yes, he got lucky and took all of your chips.


DB2 continued to insult BBG for the next 3-4 hands and I couldn't take it any more. But instead of confronting DB2, I turned to BBG and said, "Forget him, he's just angry you got his chips. You can play however you want, don't let him tell him you otherwise." BBG said, "Damn right! It's my money that's backing up my bets and I can put my money in whenever I damn well please."

And BBG couldn't be anymore correct there. I wish douchebags with thin skin would cut out the crap. IMO, you can't be that all great of player if you're going to criticize someone's play.

The mood of the table really deflated after that outburst. Plus, having not eaten all day and starting to feel the pinch of drinking on an empty stomach my buddy and I racked our chips, cashed out and went downstairs to the Panda for some orange flavored chicken. Stretched our legs and went back up to play some more.

At this point I had made up the money I lost in the tourney and I was maybe up an additional $15 on top of that.

With our bellies full, my buddy and I managed to get another table together right away. I sat down and was immediately big blind. it was limped to DB3, a mid thirties man who with a foreign accent. I'm bad at most accents but if I had to guess, I'd say he was French Canadian. He put in a raise and the SB, who looked sort of like a sickly Kirk Morrison called. I had 84o and then asked the dealer that since it's my birthday, could I take back my big blind until I get a better hand. The dealer immediately replied, "Look pal, this ain't Denny's!" Which I thought was a rather clever reply. A blond middle aged woman called the raise and off to the flop they went.

8 4 2

KMLA checked
MAW checked
DB3 put in a bet of about $15
MAW folded
KMLA called

turn A

KMLA bet $30
DB3 called

river was a blank (J?)

KMLA bet $40 and DB3 acted all indignant that he was bet into again (which told me he had a monster) and put in a min raise. KMLA called after a moment of thought and waited for DB3 to show his cards. DB3 then turned over an 8 and asked, "Ees deese gud enuff?" KMLA flipped over his AK and said, "Sorry, no." And then DB3 paused a moment and then flipped over his second card and said, "Oh? Well, then how 'bout dees wan?", his second card was another 8 which meant he had the third nuts.

KMLA's jaw hit the floor (as did most everyone at the table.)

"You slowed rolled me? Like that?!! Wow, you are incredibly rude!"

DB3 tried to defend himself, "What what? I just try to have a leetle fun wif you! Deese wan two game is soo boring!"

KMLA then retorted that he was playing poker long enough to know what a slow roll was and he then moved to another seat on the table away from the douche bag. I commiserated with KMLA and had it in my mind that I would slow roll the muther f'er back if I got the chance.

So after the slow roll Dave actually got heads up with DB3 and the reverse situation occurred where he had a set of fives and the douche had TPTK. (top pair top kicker) But, alas, Dave doesn't think of such things and didn't slow roll him. The table itself turned out to be VERY nitty. (playing cautiously) I've never seen such tight play at a 1/2 table before. We even had another old guy asleep at the table (OG3). As result I decided to try to play a LAG style and see if I could start running over the table.

Of course, the best intentions never seem to go as planned. It seemed that whenever I would start pushing my hands someone would wake up with a real hand and would push back. Considering how tight the table was I had to give the reraises their due and I started to bleed chips. Just my luck too as I soon got pocket Kings UTG and bet them preflop figuring my loose image would get a callers or reraisers.

nope, everyone folded

I start getting tilty from this, so next hand, I get 69 UTG+1 and raise. Of course I get 4 callers....


8 5 2

I throw out a bet and get 2 callers including MAW



Now I have a flush draw on top of my gut shot- woo hoo- but I still wasn't liking the fact I had 2 callers- dummy me I check. MAW bets 1/2 pot only. OG3 folds and I call.

river was a glorious 7

Now I realize that I played this hand rather poorly from the start but I got lucky and got the best card I could as there's no way she's putting me on a straight. I throw a bet of about 3/4 of the pot and MAW calls with her AKo.

I immediately tabled my straight and at first she didn't even see the straight but conceded and politely told me "nice hand".

I was now back to even for that session and the rest of the game I couldn't create any action or get any decent hands. Dave actually busted out to DB3 when his nut flush got cooled when DB3's 2 pair made a full house on the turn. I started to feel bad that Dave was just wandering around the casino while I played trying to get a decent pot. So despite being down a bit I pulled up stakes and left. Overall a loser for the day- -$35.

We stopped at White House on the way back and I scarfed down a "Special" in the car. While no cops were on the expressway, I was amazed at how many deer I saw on the side of the road. I think I saw at least 50+ deer on the way back and it made me very twitchy as you know how they just love to jump at you and destroy your car at 70mph.

It was a fun day despite the douchebags, I just don't get some people sometimes. Nevertheless I made a few new friends at the tables and got to play poker.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Response from Scott Palmer

Surprisingly, I received a reply rather quickly in regards to my recent complaint about Tom McCathy's announcing style. My email to Scott Palmer (the producer of Phillies' broadcasts) and his response are copied below. While he doesn't address my specific complaints, I am glad he took the time to say he read my letter and tried to reassure me that all would be fine. I can't say that I agree with him and I hope he took my criticism (and others since I know others sent emails yesterday) and perhaps mentioned a few things to Tom McCarthy. Once can only hope. It's not like I want the guy to be fired on the spot, I just would like to see him be more on our side.

My email to Scott and his reply:


For starters, allow me to thank you for taking the time for reading this. I am sure you
are a busy man. But, I feel I must express my displeasure with the decision to use Tom
McCarthy as the television play by play announcer. Before you dismiss my opinion as a
knee jerk reaction to Harry's passing and feeling that no one can live up to his
legendary calls, I can unequivocally say that I disliked Tom's announcing previous to
Harry's death.

I think Tom has a great deep broadcasting voice and technically does a good job with
announcing. He would actually make a fine national broadcaster, like for Fox or ESPN.
However, I just feel that he doesn't root for the Phillies and doesn't show enough
support for our team. Too many times I have felt that his calls of opposing teams' home
runs or good plays are overzealous. I don't expect him to be boring and lackadaisical
but his calls for all teams are equally excited. He also seems to go gaga over other
teams' players like Jorge Cantu and David Wright. While they are fine players and I would
like to hear more information about them I also don't want to have their accomplishments
thrown in my face over and over again.

Please understand, I don't think the Phillies' broadcast should have super fans gushing
over every thing that they do and some objectivity needs to injected into the broadcasts.
However, I find that Tom is well... too impartial. I want a guy in the booth that roots
for the Phillies. I know that Harry was once a big Senators fan just like McCarthy is a
Mets fan and he also broadcasted previously for the Astros but he came to love our team
and was part of it. I just don't think that Tom will become a fellow fan and solely
views this as a job.

What lead me to believe this is that his description of where Elijah Dukes' monster home
run last night landed was "Mike Piazza territory". While I don't think he
would be audacious enough to try and rename Ashburn Alley after a Met (whether he hailed
from Norristown or not), he showed his rooting interest by ignoring the fact that Ryan
Howard has hit several homers there as well. Sure, Mike Piazza is a future hall of fame
player who hit some monster shots in his time. But, he only hit 2 homer runs in his
career at CBP and if he hit one into the alley then it just shows that it's something
that remembers instead of the monster shots that Howard had there. His true colors
showed in that description.

I suppose I have fallen victim to hyperbole in this email. But if you can't overreact
being a fan then when can you? I think I will have to put my TV on mute from now on and
listen to Larry and Scott instead. I find their broadcast much more enjoyable.

Thanks for taking my opinion in consideration.

Hi Brian,
Thanks for taking the time to write a very detailed e-mail. I always want to know how
the fans feel. I would reply to your criticisms by recalling how Harry used to recount
how the fans reacted to him poorly after he took over for Bill Campbell. Hopefully fans
today will give Tom the same time they gave H. back then. I agree that fans have every
right to be passionate about their ball club, and the people who broadcast it. We are
lucky to have such fans here in Philly.


Scott Palmer


This past Sunday morning I had a freak out moment when I was in the shower. Like I do every shower I lathered up my hands and washed my balls. However, this time was different as I noticed what seemed to be a lump on my testicle. My balls had actually been a bit tender recently as well but I figured it was nothing as I tend to have sensitive gonads (more so than the usual person). Let me tell you, there's nothing like a good dose of fear and anxiety to make a depression cycle even worse. Being that it was the weekend I couldn't get an appointment right away to have them checked out so I began to brood and imagine the worst.

Rationally, I knew that if it was cancer that my chances of survival were pretty good (well over 90% according to wikipedia) , but the notion that I would likely have a ballectomy didn't sit too well with me. I spent most the day worrying and wondered about what it would like to have one ball. Would they put in a prosthetic ball? Since it was my right testicle and my penis leans towards the left, would it shift and start leaning towards the right if I didn't have a prosthetic? Would I be less aggressive and have less testosterone? Would I turn into an even bigger wuss? Would my orgasms have less intensity? Would chemo be a good way to lose weight? Would I feel a phantom ball like amputees feel a phantom leg?
I called the doctor Monday morning and made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. The medical assistant then asked on the phone why I wanted an appointment. Despite my ability to say all sorts of inappropriate things to my friends, I found it difficult to muster up a conversational voice and tell her that I had a lump on my testicle. I think I sounded like Peter Brady during the "Time to Change" song as my weak voice cracked several times describing my condition. I started to dread going to the doctor. Not because I was afraid of bad news (which I was), but being that I was so tender in my nether regions, I wasn't looking forward to the unpleasant exam he would have to give me.

30 hours of worrying later, I eventually made it into the doc's office. It was an unually hot day for April (90 degrees) and despite all of my real fears, I actually started to be concerned that the doctor would be grossed out by my sweaty balls. What joke, right? I could be headed to a biopsy of my nuts or looking at chemotherapy and the thing I suddenly get most concerned about is if a man who sees nasty infectious growths and smelly fungal diseases on a daily basis would be offended by my slightly moist and salty scrotum. I really wish I could understand why my brain goes haywire like that when I stress out. I actually went into the men's room at the doctor's office and gave my balls a quick once over with a handful of paper towels!
In the office my usual nervous jokey self emerged. As previously blogged, when I visit the doctor I tend to use my humor as a self defense mechanism. So, once again, for your enjoyment is the paraphrased conversation that took place (after a brief description of why I was there.)

Doc: Okay then, please stand up and remove your shorts and underwear.

Me: No dinner and a movie first?

Doc: Oh, and you'd better lock that door, the aides always seem to come in while someone has their pants down.

Me: If it's the blonde then I don't mind so much. (I lock the door, walk back over to the doctor and pull down my shorts.)

Doc: Which one was it?

Me: The right one.

Doc: (grabs the left one) Just let me know if you feel tender.

Me: eeeep! there!

Doc: (grabs the right one) where was the lump?

Me: On top and towards the back-ah-ah-ah-ah ckkkkkk!!

Doc: Really sore there, huh?

Me: (still feeling pain) Nuuuhhhoo, I'm just developing a stutter.

Doc: (snaps off glove) Okay, you can put your shorts back on.

Me: Thanks, got a smoke?

Doc: Well, I have good news, you have epididymitis.

Me: Epic Diddy Midas? Sounds awful, I thought you said it was good news.

Doc: Well, good news since I am sure you were worried it was cancer. Epididymitis, It's an infection that could last 30 days or longer and is pretty tough to get rid of it.

Me: So the lump I felt is my eppah doo dad swelling?

Doc: Yes, it where your body stores your sperm until you're ready to ejaculate and then it sends it to the vas deferens. Since you've had a vasectomy and your tubes don't connect, it's where your sperm go to die.

Me: So, it's like an elephant graveyard for gametes.

Doc: (finally laughs!) Haha, yes! We'll have to get you started on some Cipro for at least a month. I also recommend that you wear a jock strap or at least wear briefs to help with the soreness, it's best if you have support to prevent your testicles from moving around too much.

Me: Am I contagious if I have sex with my wife?

Doc: No

Me: Well, then, could you write me a script for sex at least once a day? Better yet, make it oral copulation!

Doc: (laughs) I could write one, but your story would have to be at least somewhat plausible, your wife is pretty smart after all.

Me: (sigh)

Doc: You should also buy some over the counter naprosen or Alleve to help with the pain.

Me: Okay- let me get this straight- you want me to take a few pills, wear tighty whiteys up high and have plenty of sex.

Doc: Yes

Me: You sure know how to party doc, that's why I go to you.

We then had a long conversation about my recent depression cycle and while I won't share this here (yet), I have to say that my doctor is a cool guy and I'm glad I go to him. He rolls with the punches and is straight forward and takes the time to explain things to me. That about the best you can ask for in a physician. Last night I proceeded to get rather drunk, as I really needed to blow off steam from the the huge amount of stress I put on myself. Unfortunately, I am hung over today and my balls seem to ache even more than yesterday but that could be psychological as I am now aware that my ball should be sore. However, it is a big relief that I don't have the big C and I don't ever want to imagine what it would be like to lose my testicles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An apology

I just want to make a quick apology to those who read my blog regularly. Obviously, I stopped blogging for a few weeks and even before that my frequency was dwindling. To be honest it's due to a mix of writer's block, depression and being busy at work. I think I will try to force myself to write some more and maybe I can benefit from the therapeutic nature of getting my thoughts into words. I hope to have some new posts up this week, it was my 39th birthday last week and I played some poker in AC as well, so I have somethings to talk about.

Mike Piazza Terrirtory

While no one the Phillies get to be their "voice" can fill the shoes of the Legendary Harry Kalas, I certainly hope they can do better than Tom McCarthy, the current TV play by play announcer. Now before you think this is a knee jerk reaction to Harry's passing, I can unequivocally say with all honesty that I disliked Tom as an announcer for the Phillies in the short time he's been here. Does he have a good deep broadcasting voice? Well yes, and for the most part he does a fine job with everything technical and can be about as good as you can expect for an announcer. That's not the problem.

What is the problem is that Tom grew up a Mets fan and went on to work for the Mets for 3 years before getting a job with the Phillies. While that in itself may be mildly annoying (even Harry was a Senators and Astros fan before the Phillies became his true love), the truth is that he lets it show all too often and he gets too excited over opposing teams' good plays and home runs. He's too, well..., impartial to be a home team baseball announcer. It's not like he's on the national stage announcing for Fox or ESPN baseball and should call all good plays equally. He's supposed to be our guy. Yes, I believe local broadcasts should have "homerism".

Worse than Chris Wheeler's gushing over Jose Reyes, Tom McCarthy gushes over opposing teams' players like Jorge Cantu and David Wright. So, listening to him going gaga over the hated Mets or Marlins is like listening to a douche bag wearing a Cowboys' jersey in a bar screaming in your ear while you're trying to watch the Eagles game. It grates on your nerves to say the least. One of the worst offenses came last night and although, I happened to miss the call (I wasn't watching yet), I did read about at The video clip can currently been seen here.

The Washington Nats player Elijah Dukes hit a monster shot into Ashburn Alley behind center field. Playing the clip you can hear McCarthy's excitement over what a long ball it was. Granted, it was an impressive home run. But shortly after the home run, McCarthy describes the area of where it landed as Mike Piazza territory!! I can just hear Whitey rolling around in his grave as the area that was named to honor his memory was just renamed after a former New York Met.

Don't get me wrong, Mike Piazza is a future hall of fame player and hit some big shots in his day. (and only 2 of his homers were at Citizens Bank Park) But to reference a Mets player's homerun from 5 years ago when Ryan Howard has maybe hit 4 homers or more there himself is a friggin' travesty. Excuse my hyperbole, but this baseball and overreacting is what it's all about and I can't believe that I'm going to have to possibly listen to this douche bag for many more years to come. I may have to listen to the radio only while the TV is on mute because Scott Franske is a much more enjoyable person to listen to.

The next time I'm at the park I'll have to stroll down Mike Pizza territory and get a Tony Luke's cheesesteak with mayo because that's what Tom McCarthy has done to Philadelphia. He put mayo on our cheesesteak and it doesn't belong there. It's a bastardization of everything pure and good. I suggest that if you feel the same way and have the time and inclination that you send an email to the guy in charge, Scott Palmer, and express your disconent. His email is . If you need help, let me know, I can be pretty good at writing cranky old guy letters of complaint.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Death pangs

It was 3:40 AM last night and my bladder got full enough to stir me to wake up and get out of bed and off to the bathroom. (more frequent urination- yet another wonderful thing that aging has done to me...) On my way back I experienced what I call a "death pang". It's where the idea that I'm going to die no matter what I do suddenly surfaces to the forefront of my thoughts. Needless to say, speaking as Atheist, it scares the shit out of me as I suspect the most likely outcome is that I will succumb to nothingness and everything I've experienced and done becomes meaningless and pointless as I fade into oblivion.

I'm sure those with faith, or spirituality or religion in their lives don't quite get this way so it's a hard feeling to describe. The best thing that I do to make it pass is to conveniently forget the naked truth and try to force myself to think of other things that are much more pleasant (it's usually baseball, sex or poker, half the time I think I end up masturbating to quell my fears). I recall as a teen that my death pangs were much worse and would keep me up all night at times. It eventually came to a head in college as I had a full blown panic attack where I thought I was having a heart attack one evening (granted I was high as well) and I believed I was going to die. The thought of my impending death sent me into a huge tizzy and I actually convinced my housemate, Jeff to call an ambulance. (when I was told at the hospital I was having an anxiety attack I was truly embarrassed but the Xanax pills I got were awesome...)

These days I'm old pro when it comes to anxiety attacks. So, despite the fact that my death pang last night gave me a rapid heart beat and accelerated breathing, I did manage to calm down in less than a few minutes. In some ways dealing with my bipolar nature and separating my logical self from my emotional self enables to me get through my anxiety attacks without much effort. Keeping that narrative distance is what allows me to evaluate crises much better. I simply assure myself that I am having an anxiety attack and it will pass if I distract myself. I just popped open my laptop and visited Redtube until I eventually found myself tired enough to get back to sleep.

Simple distractions of enjoyment keeps me blissfully unaware of my own mortality for only short periods of time (and writing this blog post ceratinly doesn't help me forget!). And alas, eventually I won't even have to worry about about as death will visit me like it does everyone else. Maybe I'll be lucky and science will extend my life an extra 50 years, but some day I will die and there's no sense in worrying about it. Wish I could just believe myself....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry Kalas 1936-2009

The Phillies will never sound the same.

I'll miss you Harry.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time to defend the WFC

The Philles get to kick off the entire major league baseball season tonight at 8pm and defend their 2008 World "Fucking" Championship starting with the Braves. (thank you Chase Utley for coining the phrase)

Most of the team is intact from last year, the main exception is Pat Burrell is gone and replaced by his 5 year older doppelganger named Raul Ibanez. We will have some prospects that will eventually make the team this year (or get traded) that I am excited about as well. Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco and John Mayberry Jr. all have a legitimate shot of making some major contributions this year as well as rookie pitcher JA Happ who made the bullpen and could also see some starting time.

The competition looks as tough as ever in the division. The Nats may not be great but they really did make some improvements over the off season like Adam Dunn and will get Steven Strasberg in the draft who is touted as the best pitching prospect since Dwight Gooden. The Braves starting pitching is very strong and will make thing tough all year. The Marlins are good young team that may emerge and take some big strides this year. Finally the hated Mets have strengthened their bullpen with K-Rod and JJ Putz and look to challenge and then choke in the stretch again.

I'm excited to say the least, I had tickets for tonight but had to sell them since Lynn had to work tonight. Even still, I'll have some brews, and enjoy myself and my big screen HD TV watching what hopes to be the begininng of a repeat world fucking championship year.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pranks a lot part deux

Yesterday, my wife's laptop showed up at my workplace. There was a decent sale that Dell was running 2 weeks ago that we couldn't pass up, so we ordered Lynn a laptop for her future employment as a teacher. I had it shipped to my warehouse at work for security reasons as I know there's always someone present during delivery hours to sign for it. Which you have to figure is much better than to just have the UPS man leave a big cardboard box on my front porch that has "DELL" in big bold letters on the side. Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that even though I'm in a good neighborhood that the computer would be more likely to disappear that way than if I were to sign for in person.

After I received the computer, I didn't give it much more thought other than the fact that wife will be excited to get her new laptop. It wasn't until I picked up the box to put into the car did I start to think of a devious plot to get my wife good on April Fool's day. The box, although larger than you'd expect for a laptop, was rather light. I know it's just a laptop but for some reason I was expecting it to be heavier due to the size of the box. As a result I initially thought for a split second it was empty. I quickly dispelled the notion but the very thought of an empty box gave me the idea to empty out the box before I gave it to Lynn with a note inside that said "April Fools!!" But on the drive home I hatched an even better plan but it would require some skill and luck in order to pull it off sucessfully.

I got home and took the box into the garage and as originally planned I emptied out the box and left the computer with its accessories in the garage. I then took the empty box and brought it inside with me. I spotted my wife doing sit ups on the floor of our living room, her placement couldn't have been more perfect for what I had planned. I announced, "Hi honey! Look what finally arrived today!" She looked up at me and saw that I was carrying the big box with "DELL" written on the side and exclaimed with a big smile, "My computer's finally here, hooray!"

Just then, I purposely tripped and landed on top of the empty box right next to where Lynn was lying down. My resulting fall and large body frame mercilessly crushed the box flat as a pancake. I really did sell the tripping part too, it was my best acting performance since my turn as Officer Krupke in West Side Story in high school. Try to imagine Chris Farley as the "Van down by the river guy" guy on SNL falling flat onto the coffee table. I think I may have missed my calling as a slap stick artist.

I immediately turned to look at Lynn and she had a huge look of shock on her face, it was truly priceless and worth the bruise I am now sporting on my chest. I let the shock sink for a few seconds and then let her off the hook when I bellowed, "April fools!!" Her look of shock and worry immediately turned to anger and she started to hit me. She knew then that I had gotten her good. It ain't easy pulling off a prank on April 1st as everyone is expecting it. I think you have to go for the quick shock factor before they can think things through.

I'm sure I added fuel to the fire by the very fact that I couldn't stop giggling and smiling about what I had done the rest of the evening. I know I can get rather annoying at times and especially so when I get smug and satisfied like that. Nonetheless, whatever pain I got from the fall or resulting ire I may experience from the wife, that look on her face is something I'll savor for quite some time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pranks a lot!

As promised months ago, since today is April Fool's Day, I'd recount a prank I pulled on a fellow dorm mate in college.

It was the second semester of my freshman year. Two new guys had just moved into the empty room down the hall from where I roomed. Apparently, they were already good friends from high school and they requested that they room together. As most of us know now, there are two things that can ruin a good friendship- the first is living together and not then getting along. The second is when one gets a new girlfriend. At this period in their lives, Jason and Craig had to suddenly contend with both.

Jason was dating a girl named Reenie and his finally living away from his parent's house was a dream come true in the fact that he could have sex with her without fear of his parents walking in on them. Imagine his chagrin when Reenie got extremely mad and embarrassed when Craig walked in on them while she was half naked. After she stormed out of his room, Jason and Craig went into a loud screaming match in the hallway.

Jason basically argued that Craig should have to knock on the door before unlocking and entering the room. Craig rebuffed that he shouldn't have to knock on his own door and he should be able to come and go as he pleases. Their loud spat started to draw a crowd, including my attention as well. As I listened to them debate and observed Jason's face turn red I felt a twinge in the of my brain. It was telling me to do something awful as I was presented with the best set up.

Having briefly met Jason a week ago (we had walked to the local comic book shop together), I approached them and made a suggestion.

"Listen, you're both going all about this all wrong..." I sagely presented my advice, "You're both right, of course, Jason deserves privacy and Craig shouldn't have to knock on his own door every time he wants to get in. What you guys need is some sort of signal. I don't know....put something on the door rubber band!!"

I walked into their room and grabbed a rubber band from Craig's desk and placed it around the door knob.

"Look! See, now once Craig goes to unlock the door, he'll see the rubber band and then know to either knock if he really has to come in or go away and come back in half hour. All you have to do, Jason, is once you and Reenie go into the room to fool around is put the rubber band on the knob."

Both of them started to calm down and then immediately agreed it was a good compromise. Now, while my deed was seemingly altruistic I was actually setting Jason up. As I mentioned before, my dad was a rubber band salesman and I had in my possession a 4 foot rubber band. It was 4 feet long and about 2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. I believe my father sold them to be used to help seal barrel slats together during their creation but I'm not certain. I can tell you we sell something similar in my business for a completely different use. Their presence in my warehouse still reminds me of my devious prank to this day.

The next day I waited for Jason to take Reenie into his room. I left my door open so I could spot them walking past. Sure enough, at the same time as the day before, they walked hand in hand down the hall and then into Jason's room. Several minutes later I saw Jason (with his shirt off) peek his head out of the room and place the rubber band on the knob. I scurried down the hallway with my enormous rubber and pulled the old switcheroo.

Soon, (because of my telling everyone) a crowd of guys stood outside snickering and waiting to see what the reaction would be. Luckily, Craig was among the witnesses as he was visiting someone in another room. About 10 minutes later, Reenie emerged from the room (to go to the bathroom?) and saw the rubber band hitting the floor and going down the hall about 2 feet. She gave a perplexed look as guys from every room started to erupt with laughter. Realizing that she was now the center of attention for just having had sex, poor Reenie turned bright red, screamed at Jason that she was never coming back to his room and ran down the hall back towards the elevator. Jason came running out after her and was yelling what was the problem and then his peripheral vision caught the large rubber band.

His ire went immediately towards Craig, thinking that he had switched the bands out. Craig tried to send me up the river right away but I had already hid in my room with my door shut. I did have to fess up, however, in order to get my rubber band back. Jason did eventually become a friend of mine, as did Craig.

I try little pranks here and there, but none with such success as that rubber band provided for me. It was a flash of genius that hopefully someday will return.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Been a while...

I haven't blogged in over a week. The longest stretch since I started blogging. I have little in the way of excuses. I have been super busy at work (what recession?) and Lynn has been using the computer a lot at home thereby blocking me from usibut I do still have time to blog if I really wanted to. I guess I just haven't been into writing or creating all that much. Call it writer's block or laziness, whatever the reason I just haven't felt myself lately. Heck, I haven't even seen The Watchmen yet and wonder if I'll even see it in the theaters at this point.

Hopefully, the nice weather will bring a change of mood and start the creative juices flowing again. In the meantime get excited about this-

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Arrested Development: The Movie!!

Big thanks to Chris who posted this youtube video on his blog yesterday of some fun behind the scenes antics of the new Arrested Development movie -

Those who know me well, know that I think Arrested Development was one of the best sitcoms to ever grace the network airwaves. The show was not only hilarious the first time you'd watch an episode, but there were so many jokes that you wouldn't catch the first viewing that you would notice on repeat viewings. The dialog was clever, the characters were great and the actors were perfect. Of course when you have a show this good, people will not watch it and instead watch something mindlessly stupid like According to Jim. The show only lasted 3 seasons (and the last season was short) and I'm sure the movie will not garner much box office either. But nevertheless, I recommend that if you haven't already, rent or buy the TV show DVD's and GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!

Rating the Kids shows part V- Batman: The Brave and the Bold

In the 60's DC Comics had a popular comic book series titled, The Brave and the Bold. At first, the series featured heroes from the past like Robin Hood and Knights but it moved on to showcasing new superheroes. The Justice League, Teen Titans and others made their debut during this time period. Eventually the series morphed into a team-up series where a random hero would team up with one of DC's most popular characters, Batman. The series ran for a long time until the 80's and then it eventually died during the comic rebirth and popularity of The Uncanny X-men. It did eventually get a revamp and the series is up and running again. Recently, Cartoon Network took the same concept, pair Batman with another DC hero, and debuted a new animated series for kids this past fall.

Gone is the dark brooding Batman that we've recently seen in great movies like Dark Knight and just about any comic book made in the past 30 years. The animators actually chose to use the silver age costume from the 60's where the costume is actually blue and not black or dark navy blue. Batman even smiles quite regularly in the show! As much as I enjoy the rich and complex stories of Batman and his obsessive drive to stop crime due to the murder of his parents, I also very much appreciate what direction, look and feel this show took.

It is a kid's show after all, and I once devoured superheroes when I was a kid as well. I watched corny and hokey cartoons like Spiderman and his Amazing Friends show, The Superfriends and even live action shows like Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. It's what ultimately drove me to read the comic books. As inane as some of the shows were, they were a joy to watch as a kid as you could fantasize that you yourself had superpowers and could save the world against super villains who lived in a huge Darth Vader head in the swamp.

This show reminds me of the superhero shows I would watch as a child, however, it took all the hokey and corny out but still kept it light, upbeat and most importantly, fun. The end result is something really good. It reminds me of the creative and innocent comics that came out of the 60's, which is why I think it was a good choice to use this format. The show usually starts with a 3 minute opening where Batman and another superhero like The Red Tornado are trapped by a villain. They make their way out of the trap in a clever or interesting manner and bring down the crooks. The show's theme then starts and a completely new story starts usually with another superhero. Most episodes are self contained and there's no long drawn out ongoing dramas or serial stories that need to be followed.

While the intended audience is 7-13 year old boys, I find myself looking to see when I could watch the show. It brings out the old fantasies and fancies that I had as a child myself. The violence is very light and the darkness of Batman is all but gone. This a truly fun show to enjoy with your son and watch.

The show isn't perfect, but I'm afraid to mention why as I know I'll be labeled as a comic book nerd. (ie. one thing that annoys me is that Aquaman is characterized as a pompous ass, which my son thinks is funny, but annoys the heck out of me since that's not the Aquaman I know and love!) But the flaws are small and only noticeable because the overall concept and execution itself is so well done. I give this show a 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Party Season

As spring approaches, I am reminded that soon my weekend social calendar will be filled to the brim for 3-4 months straight. We have my birthday, my son's birthday, my nephew's birthday, mother's day, Marge's day (more on this later) father's day, my wedding anniversary, throw in some Phillies games and other parties we need to attend for family and Easter and Memorial day as well. What's even more insane is that for some reason we have added a party to the mix, so now we have 2 parties in one weekend to throw.

As much as I like attending and hosting parties, there is such a thing as too much. By the time my anniversary rolls around in the beginning of May, I feel drained and stressed. (and that's only the halfway point!!) Nevertheless, this time of year is when we emerge from the bleary confines of our homes. We've been trapped too long from the cold and the dark and wish to see some happy faces, drink some grog and ale and perhaps hunt for some colored eggs.

I suppose we can't ignore tradition and the rites of spring or my mother-in-law for that matter.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pat the Bat's class act

For those of you who don't read the paper (which is most of us these days...), Now ex-Phillie, Pat Burrell, took out a full page ad. Click on the picture to read it:I'm still sore at the front office for not resigning him and since my season tickets are in left field, it will be weird seeing someone else out there every Sunday. Pat spent his own money (well he did make millions here) to take out the ad and it wasn't something he had to do. Pat's a class act and he will be missed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Speaking of Magic Hats...

Talking about Magic Hat beer reminds me of the days back in college when me and my housemates would attempt to get liquor and beer for our parties. It's not the beer that's reminding me of this story either, it's the name itself, "Magic Hat". It's a moniker that me and a few of my friends came up with for an old ivy wool cap that seemed to fool people into thinking that you were 21 or older.

Most of us at that time were only 19 or 20 years old, so obtaining any amount of beer or liquor required an older friend which wasn't always available at the time. We had heard through the grapevine that there was a liquor store owned by a Korean man in Greenbelt, MD that would sell liquor to college students without asking for ID. So, we all piled into the car and headed to the liquor store. Once there, we decided that only one of us should go in and attempt to get some cases of beer. (and we usually bought some nasty swill like Milwaukee's Best aka "The Beast" because it was like $11.25 a case or some absurdly low price.) We all agreed that Gene looked the oldest of us, but in hindsight, I think Gene had a rather boyish face. We dressed Gene as old as we thought we could make him look. After dressing him in an argyle sweater and slacks, we topped him off with an old woolen ivy cap (see above). Gene came out of the liquor store 10 minutes later with the booty and we all rejoiced. Later that night, we celebrated this wonderful miracle by getting shit-faced drunk. It was a good thing we now had some swill and cheap vodka.

Later that week, I took my roommate, Jeff, with me to the same liquor store. Feeling confident that I needed no ID to get beer, I marched into the store with no costume to make myself look older. At this point I just figured that the owner had no morals when it came to under-aged drinking and just wanted to make some money, so I thought I'd have no problem.

Think again, Brian.

The old Korean man immediately asked for some ID after I put a few cases of the "good stuff" (MGD) on the counter. I told him that I had left it in the car and would be right back. I ran out like the scared wuss that I am. When I got back to the car, Jeff decided he would take a chance and give it a try himself. The hat that Gene had worn was still in the back seat, so I told him to put it on in the hopes it would make him look older.

Even though Jeff was a year younger than me and looked it- Jeff came out with the case of MGD, it's gold label shimmered in the setting sun.

It was truly a thing of beauty.

It had also made us realize that we were in possession of a magic hat. Much like the glasses that Superman wore to become Clark Kent, the magic hat blinded people's ability to judge someone's true age. We had to use the hat wisely and not succumb to it's lure of power and not abuse its wondrous abilities. Lest you think that it was me that the Korean liquor store owner would not serve, I went into the store a week later with the hat on and had no problems.

The hat itself was actually my friend's, Gary, hat. He liked to wear strange and vintage style things like that and I think he may have worn the hat himself 3 times tops. It was just his style to do something like that. He had no problems letting us use the hat and after he left Maryland to go to Rutger's University, he left behind the hat, either because he forgot to take it or just didn't care for it too much. I grew to love the style of hat over the years, perhaps because I missed my friend. This day I still wear an ivy hat that's made of leather when I play poker. It's one of my favorite things to wear.

Eventually we all aged a few years and didn't need the magic hat. By that point we had moved out of the dorms and really didn't have any younger friends to pass the hat on to. The hat traveled with me to Pennsylvania when I dropped out of school. I even donned it a few times when the mood struck me. I eventually lost the hat in one of my moves and my wife eventually bought me a nice leather version of the same style hat.

Sometimes, I wonder if the magic hat's real magic was not that it fooled people into thinking you look older but rather that it gave you the confidence you needed to walk up and not look like you're trying to get away with something. Perhaps, it was a little of both.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

They're back!!

Last night...

No I wasn't there and I don't have tickets either for the upcoming Camden show (sigh). Nonetheless, it's exciting to see them back and doing Phishy things again. Apparently they dusted off a lot of old songs like Fluffhead, so I can imagine it being a great show.

Also- be sure to sign up at livephish as you can soon download the three Hampton shows for FREE. Limited time only, so sign up now!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rub some dirt on it

As I previously mentioned, my oldest son, Jonathan, is a rather sensitive 10 year old boy. My wife and I are growing ever more concerned that he is becoming too much of a wuss, to put it bluntly. Don't get me wrong, my wife and I accept who Jonathan is and will become with all of our hearts as we love him dearly. He is a great kid and the concern comes from where both Lynn and I went through as pre-teens. We both experienced the pointed end of the stick when it came to teasing. Hell, they even called my wife "ogre" and I was, well, a nerdy wuss. I know the ogre comments still affect my wife to this day as she brings it up on occasion. I wish she could see herself through my eyes (and most likely anybody else) as she quite the opposite of being an ogre.

So, we are wary when it comes to Jonathan crying openly at such trivial matters and his inability take a little pain. You know how the old playground rules were, you'd get beaned by a ball and instead of crying they'd tell you to rub some dirt on it and get back in the game. My son, unfortunately, will go to the nurse at any sign of sniffle or some little ache that he gets. He always looks to get sympathy or some sort of band-aid or ice pack for any minor injury. I know he's only 10 but I see how even my almost 8 year old, Gabriel handles some pain and while he may try to milk some goodies out of you, he won't dwell on it like Jonathan does. Jonathan will worry about all sorts of things that may happen and get upset over things that haven't even taken place. If it hasn't happened already, Jonathan will develop a reputation of being a crybaby or wuss. I don't want him to go through the same painful childhood that we did.

Just 2 days ago I came home to him bawling loudly in the living room. He said with his lips quivering that he was on top of "T-Rex Mountain" (a snow mound where the plow sticks the snow in the parking lot behind our house) and fell and banged his knee "very, very, VERY HARD!!" (and how it must be broken!) I asked him how he made it home as it takes about 3-4 minutes to walk home and he said he walked. Right then and there I found my father channeling his parenting skills through my body and mouth and I immediately dismissed his pain and basically went cold to his crying.

"Well, if you can walk on it, it's not broken."

"Sniff, really? But it feels broken."

"Well, it would swell up if you did something serious to it. Take off your pants and I'll take a look at it."

"BUT I CAN'T, it'll hurt!!"

"Stop, yes you can, do it!"

He made a big production out of how much it hurt to take off his jeans, but I wasn't buying his crocodile tears. I took a look at his knee and saw no swelling or anything that indicated that his leg was seriously hurt. He then made another big production out of getting his pants back on and just then his mother came downstairs from her shower. He took one look at her and the water works started flowing like a broken dam.

She gave him exactly what he wanted, a big hug and some sympathy. I sometimes wonder if it would be better if I showed a little compassion. But as bad as it sounds I feel that I don't make a big deal out of it he eventually won't either. Maybe I'm wrong and if I give him some TLC he can feel better and go do his usual thing, but I doubt it as his behavior over the next day and a half was almost comical. He was fake limping around. You could tell that the limp was fake since he was doing such a bad job at it. His refusal of making his leg straight was making my wife crazy. He was more worried that it would hurt if he would straighten his leg than actually getting hurt from the crazy limp he was doing.

We sent him to school despite his protests. We also informed him the he shouldn't go to the nurse about his leg pain as we weren't going to pick him up for it. We should have known better as his weird limp caught the eye of the teacher and then Jonathan blabbed that he wasn't allowed to go to the nurse. (I'm hoping that she hasn't reported us to child services yet.) Last night I finally forced him to straighten his leg out and walk on it or else he was getting punished. He complied and claimed it hurt but you could see he was walking fine.

This morning I had confirmation that he was fine as he ran into the kitchen after I told him we had Munchins from Dunkin Donuts that his Uncle Duane gave him and his brother.

I honestly don't know what to do at this point. I might even seek professional help for some of his behaviors and moods. I want him to be happy and stop worrying so much about things that are either out of his control or might not even happen. I know I had similar issues and it hits you harder when you see your own child go through the same thing. Maybe I should just be like my father and let him work it out on his own (because I turned out so well? HA!), but my gut tells me that isn't the best thing to do.

Can you rub some dirt on your soul and get back into the game?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy Square Root Day!!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a good and fun Square Root day. Today is 3/3/09- which, or course is one of the few times where the day and month are the same and multiply to make the year (last 2 digits- 3X3=9). The last time it happened was 2/2/04 and 1/1/01. The next time will take place in 7 years on 4/4/16. Hopefully, I'll still be blogging then.

Even more exciting is that we are prime number of days away from Pi day- which takes places on 3/14. (an approximation of Pi is 3.14) On Pi day I suggest we all run around in circles to honor the event.

Signs of aging that they didn't tell you about

I'm fast approaching my 39th birthday in less than 2 months. It will be the last year of my 30's and the very thought scares the crap out of me. I just want to go back to 1992, where I can still drink and gamble but still have my youth. Nonetheless, I trudge on as if I have no other choice, well, because I don't have another choice.

The obvious things that are happening to my body like male pattern baldness, gray hairs, and general aches and pains are things I expected and things that are widely known about getting old. I'm sure one day I'll require reading glasses as I become farsighted, I may lose some of my sex drive and memory and I'll wear polyester shorts with black socks and a sweater in July. I'll probably shrink to 5 ft 3 from 6ft 1 by the year 2060, should I live so long, since the spine compresses as you age. Luckily those things haven't happened yet, however, some things have started to pop up that are really bumming me out as I had no clue I was destined to have such changes by age 40. For a public service and so people can benefit from my experience (see below), here they are outlined below-

  • Your ears slowly spread out. My wife, Lynn, claims that this is a common fact but so far no one else I've talked to seems to know that it happens. But I've definitely noticed that my ears are catching more and more wind resistance when I walk down the street. Why I'm turning into Dumbo in my middle age is beyond me but apparently your cartilage keeps growing after your bones stop.
  • You get attacked by moles. No, I'm not talking about those little blind fuckers that dig up your lawn. I'm referring to what they call age spots. I knew of age spots as a kid from that horrible commercial but had no idea that you get these awful marks all over your nose and face. The sun is just awful for you. So, kids, be sure to wear of plenty of sunscreen and don't stay out in the sun too long.
  • You become a crank. The character of "grumpy old man" is a stalwart in the annuls of archetypes and recurring characters. They scream at the neighborhood kids to get off their lawn and they write long letters to the editor complaining how in the old days people would tip their fedoras and no one these days has any respect. (let alone fedoras) But as a teen, I always thought that these people were always that way. I thought an entire generation was full of whiners and cranks. Turns out that your brain shrinks as you get older causing you to become more cantankerous. If you don't believe I'm becoming more angry and irate in my old age, just look at my blog posts on Ebay and GE servicemen.
  • You always have the answers for young people and try to give advice whether they ask for it or not. I'm at the age where I feel my experience should count for something. I also find myself dispensing advice to people younger than me even if they look squeamish and like they wish to leave to go do something dangerous and impulsive. I think to myself, "If only these 20-something year old brats would listen to me, I've been through something similar before and they could make their lives a lot easier if they would heed my advice." Of course, I always forget that when I was 20-something I would think to myself, "Why is this old dude going on and on about when he was young? Can't he see that he's making a fool of himself? I really would like to get away from him and go do something impulsive and dangerous."
  • You have hairs pop up in the weirdest places. One look at Abe Vigoda and you know that this will happen. He is an extreme example of hair foliage gone unchecked. But I really had no idea that it would happen so quickly. I have ear hairs so long that they could be used to hem my pant leg. Perhaps, it is directly tied to male pattern baldness and every time you lose a hair on your head you gain one in your nose, ear, bicep, ass cheek or ankle. Seriously, there are some spots that you had no idea were capable of growing hair that these wiry and coarse suckers pop up.
  • People around you get old. Okay, so maybe this one seems obvious and I'll agree with you. But it still shocks me how old some people are when I hear their ages. Here are some examples- Uma Thurman- 39, Brent Spiner (aka Data from Star Trek)-60, Michael Jackson- 50, Madonna-50, Frank Oz-64 , Henry Winkler-63 , I remember when Christina Ricci was a child actor, now she's 29!!
  • You need less sleep at night but nap more during the day. I can only guess that this trend continues to get worse as you always see octogenarians walking in the mall at 7am, 2 hours before they open, but are always the first to doze off at parties. I never used to nap at all but lately on the weekends I find myself dozing off for 30 minutes or so in the middle of the day. In fact, I feel like I could use a nap now. Maybe, it's because you don't sleep as soundly at night. Always getting up to pee since your prostrate is bigger.
I'm sure there are more things I'm missing right now, but that's because my brain is shrinking and I don't recall what they are, plus, I have to leave and go pee since I have an enlarged prostrate. Aging sucks, I guess maybe people did warn me what was going to happen but I didn't listen being the young brash whipper snapper that I was. I hope you young people will take my advice and know what's coming for you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fallen

Here in the Northeast, we got a bit of snow last night and today. The weathermen made it sound like the rapture was on its way but, alas, only one horseman showed up. (it was Famine and he was looking pudgy if you ask me.) It was, however, enough snow to really screw things up for the day and cause me to fall on my ass not once, not twice, but three times.

Recently, I've become my brother's chauffeur since he's had his foot in an orthopedic boot. He can't drive, so that leaves me to do all of the banal errands that our company needs doing. So, on top of my already busy day (always lots of orders on Monday) I had to drive around in the snow and go banking and to the post office.

The first time I took a spill today was actually indoors. I was waiting in line at the bank and noticed my bootlace was untied. I knelt down and tied it and on my way up I actually lost traction on the bank's tiled floor with my wet boots. I banged my elbow and knee before rolling over on the ground like a upside down turtle. It's probably the least graceful moment of my life, and I've had quite a few doozies, let me tell you. Who the fuck trips while they're already halfway on the ground? Yet, somehow I found a way.

Not even 20 minutes later I get out the car and amble my way over to the post office's exterior mailbox. I guess with the limited amount of snow that we've had this winter I've lost my snow legs as I took a really big spill on a patch of ice near the mailbox. I even noticed the ice and made a point of treading carefully. I fell straight on my fat butt and a shot of pain went up from my lower back to my neck, where it still resides tonight. Now I was getting pissed.

I get back to the warehouse and work through my pain while putting the orders together. A half an hour before UPS is due to show up I notice that our back ramp hasn't been plowed like it's supposed to be. So, on an empty stomach (I had no time for lunch) and a back, neck, knee and elbow screaming in pain I grabbed our shovel and did what I had to do. Shoveling on a ramp isn't easy either and again I had to keep my balance on slippery surfaces but this time I also had to deal with an incline. I don't think I need to say much more but I will tell you that my fall was really more of a split that I'm really not capable of doing with an hour's worth of stretching. It's tough to hurt your inner thigh muscles but I found a way.

Fear not, I can still blog as my fingers and brain remained unharmed- I think. I also banged my head a few times on my brother's Bravada hatchback that wouldn't open all the way up. It takes real talent to be this clumsy and you have to have a big heart to keep injuring yourself and keep going.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Where has all the customer service gone?

As I write this, my poor wife, Lynn, has experienced something most of have in this day and age of repairs- the 4 hour window that wasn't met. We had an oven that wouldn't heat up and most modern ovens aren't very easy to fix if you don't know what you're doing. Instead of a pilot light there's some sort of electronic heating ignition device and damn if I know how to replace it without blowing up the house. It's the sort of modern convenience that isn't very convenient to the end user. The GE oven is barely 5-6 years old, so we decided to call a GE repairman.

Since appliances are so cheap these days, we have to pay some guy about 1/4th of what we spent on the actual unit itself to just come out and take a look. The money meter starts ticking as soon as he arrives. I'd be willing to bet that if he had to rebuild the unit with parts that you'd spend 25 times the value of the unit on parts alone. As much as it seems a waste of money the more worrisome part is the waste of your time. Whether it's the cable guy, a delivery of a mattress, or a GE oven repairman, you always get a 4 hour window of when that person will grace you with his presence. Half the time, they don't even do that.

Anyways, Lynn makes her appointment of 8am til 12pm thinking that she could get her sleep in shortly after the repairman leaves as she needs to get about 3-4 hours of sleep in order to work her night shift at the hospital before the kids get home at 4pm. She actually gets an automated call at 10pm telling her that she's the next one to be serviced and to get any dogs out of the way. A nice feature except for the fact that no one shows up. She waits til 12:30pm and no one has shown up. Frustrated she calls the service center.

Now here is where the good companies get separated from the bad companies. Anyone can run a business and have most things go right. Make a good product or service, have that product or service do its intended job and have a satisfied customer, it's the end of story for 95% or more of transactions. But as I've learned so aptly from a beach T-shirt I saw in 1987, "Shit Happens". It's when that shit happens and how that company reacts and takes care of the shit is what makes invaluable service or products.

They could make a great customer out of us by doing the right thing and solve the problem or make Lynn happier by offering some sort of concession. But instead, just like most large corporations, the customer service fought with her. If the word sorry was used it was in regards to how Lynn felt (ie. "I'm sorry you feel this way") and not that they are sorry for making her wait all morning and not have the repairman show up on time or even call to say that he's running late. The rep couldn't even tell her when he could come or if it would be anytime soon. No concessions or discounts were offered until Lynn actually cancelled the order.

It's like when you get a new credit card and cancel the old one the old company suddenly starts offering you a much better rate than before. Well, if you could have given such a great rate before I wouldn't be looking for a new card, would I? So once the words, cancel and stop the order were used the rep changed her tune. But by that time it was too late. I can only guess that they are actually trained to stand pat with the goodies until the customer threatens to fly the coop. How awful is that?

I run a small business and when I get a customer upset that my product broke or didn't show up in time or whatever else that could go wrong, I do something to correct it right away. I don't wait until I hear the customer get so upset that they threaten to cancel their order or go to another place. While it's true that there are some irrational customers who you can never satisfy, most people want someone to listen, correct the problem and do a little something for having their time wasted or go through a bit of a pickle.

Instead most companies would rather do what they can to hold onto their nickles until the very last moment before conceding and some don't even concede at all. We as consumers seem to have less and less power when it comes to the big corporations. Customer service has reached an all time low in my opinion. I guess I sound like a cranky old man, but Ebay, GE and all of the other virtual monopolies can go fuck themselves. We need more competition and we need people to start speaking up to getting treated right.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Libras are irrational

Lately, I've been finding myself arguing or debating with people on completely different levels of thinking. Far be it from to claim that I'm right in my opinions (even though I am), it's becoming apparent to me that it's incredibly futile to try and discuss rational thought when the other person is using emotion and feeling as their argument. Yet, still I find myself arguing and huffing and puffing. It becomes infuriating to watch that persons silly grin as they discuss how Taurus is a big influential sign on her life and relationships with Geminis always end badly.

Honestly, I try to understand and I can see where Karen came to the conclusion that she does better with Taurus men than Gemini men as her 3 biggest and most successful relationships were all men that are born between April 20th and May 19th and her divorce was with a man who was born a Gemini. But to me- there's no causality, it's a small sample size and she may even have selective data as she probably only includes the data where it matches up with her conclusions (and not on purpose either, a lot of us tend to have selective memories when trying to make a point).

Perhaps I should convince her to date a million men. If she wasn't married, she probably could fulfill that task or at least give it the ol' college try. (I'm kidding Karen!) And after you get a large enough collection of...ahem.."data", she could perhaps see that her chances of having a positive relationship with a Gemini is as equally likely as having one with a Taurus. Or maybe, she even could be proven right and she could nanny nanny poo poo me all she wants. And I would accept the razzing because she used a scientific way to prove her point.

But she doesn't think that way.

And it's not that thinking by emotion makes her always wrong. It probably gets her pretty far with most things as most people use their "gut" to get through life anyways. Heck, some really good poker players are "feel" players who ignore the math completely but still manage to be rather successful. There certainly is something to be said about emotive capabilities.

So why can't I accept that and move on? Why do I have to even view emotion itself as simple chemical reactions and synapses firing and nothing else?

It's not like I give my wife a Valentine's day card and write a note that says, "My endorphin levels escalate every time I am aware of your presence. My hormonal response to your sex organs is a positive experience. I have no plans of mating with other women in the foreseeable future, Brian" Instead I write, "I love you and love being around you. You have an ass that won't quit. Yours forever, Brian." So, why do I have such trouble accepting arguments from the emotional side. Why won't my line of thinking allow me to embrace spirituality?

I'd say that science is my religion but that would be a cop-out and completely untrue. I am without all faith and science is not faith as it constantly changes. Scientists abandon the latest scientific theory as soon as a better one comes along. I also feel what you would could call spirituality at times, it's just I have a voice that tells me that's it's a weird chemical reaction. I think I've somehow learned to detach myself from certain emotions in order to survive my own destructiveness and emotional carnage from my bipolar nature.

I also tend to surround myself with cynics and doubters like myself. It's also why I have become such a pompous ass about my belief system. I was constantly being reinforced as my line of thinking as being the right way of thinking. I would scoff at the religious right and view them as the enemy who was ruining my libertarian way of life with their intrusive morality laws. I started to associate the extreme kooks with your average person who had any faith whatsoever.

In other words, I became an elitist.

Then one day I watched someone else berate their own relative for having a faith based belief. He tried his best to berate that person in front of me and even looked to me for back up. While I thought that this person's belief was correct and logical, I wanted no part of his utterly disgusting display of pompous indignation and audacity. I actually defended the other person. I didn't defend their point of view but rather their right to have that point of view and their right to not take such shit from anyone for having that belief.

It's opened my eyes to a certain extent. While I still have no tolerance for the extremists and people who wish to shove their faith into the law of the land, I've come to accept people who have spirituality and faith as someone with a different take on things. I don't embrace spirituality but I do understand it better and while I may not ever understand anyone's own particular sense of bliss, I do acknowledge and respect it much better than I ever have the past 10 years.

Now all I have to do is learn how to sidestep getting into all of these debates.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Riding a wave into a wall

After tipping a dealer free money, you'd think Karma would repay me back and allow my trip to Vegas end well. But, alas, I am not Earl of TV fame and such cosmic balances don't apply to my life. Once I walked away from the Let it Ride table, I figured my winnings were just shy of $2200. I knew that I shouldn't be stupid in my remaining few hours and not risk much more than $200. But my mood started to turn sour from a very frustrating ordeal in obtaining my storage crate to ship back to work, a fairly bad meal (although comped!!) and a nagging cold that started to develop. I probably shouldn't have played anything at that point and instead just go to my room, masterbate and go to bed early.

Dummy me went to the poker room back at the Bellagio. They had 1/2 again thankfully and I went up again after a quick start. Then I just sort of petered out. I kept getting hands that were excellent draws like open ended straight draws and the nut flush draws, but they always missed so I was losing money fast. Then I just got plain cooled when my set of 4's lost out to an AK flush draw that hit a final heart on the river. My intial buy in was gone. I considered rebuying as the night was somewhat still early but reconsidered when I thought about the following:

The players at the table seemed to be better in skill than previous nights although not unbeatable.
I was in a bad mood and getting sicker.
I was steaming from the suck out.
$2000 is still an excellent amount of money to go home with.

While possible that I could have rewon my buy in and more, I'm glad I walked away when I did. I think I've learned better discipline this trip and while it's very certain that I could've made better decisions along the way to maximize wins and minimize losses, I am still proud of myself for keeping the big picture in mind and not risking more than $300 and usually $200 at any one point. I kept focused most of the time I played and I identified players who were worse than me and tried to isolate them. Overall I give myself a solid B+ for the way I played in vegas.

I went back to my room and tried to get some sleep as I had a morning flight back to Philly. My cold at that point was driving me nuts as my sinuses made me feel like my head was going to cave in. Not to mention that annoying nasal drip was making my throat sweel like a balloon. I ended up with less than 4 hours of sleep. I was happy, however, with my last ride down in the "inclinators", the Luxor's elevators that go sideways and up and down at the same time since the building is pyramid shaped. The inclinators are not very fun to ride when tired, sick, drunk or stone cold sober for that matter as well.

Once back in Philly I came home to some upsetting news which I can't even repeat here (strange for me, yes, I know) so my high from the trip came to an abrupt end. I can describe the feeling as surfing a great wave and instead of gliding into shore you hit a brick wall. Perhaps next time I'll keep the money and let the dealer cry, Karma is a cruel mistress.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Watchmen sneak peaks

The Watchmen comes out in about just 2 weeks so lots of sneak peeks are coming to light, here are a few I've found. I still have mixed feelings on if the movie will be good but, damn, some of these clips are awesome.