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.