There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions

Ah yes, it's the one we've (me, and the other me) all been waiting for, my New Year's Resolutions post. As usual I have given a lot (read: not a lot) of thought to what it is exactly I will change about myself in 2010. Sometimes people call these improvements. To be honest, I don't really remember what any of my past resolutions have been and thus have no idea if I have ever successfully adhered to them. Well this year it is etched in cyberspace so even though a lot of it is likely to be accounted for qualitatively rather than quantitatively, well shit, I'm giving it a shot.

1. Drink less. This is quantitative and measurable but, unlike what they say about white people on that stuff white people like blog, I don't really count my drinks anymore. I only have one liver. This would be a reason to drink less.
2. Drink more. Hydration is important. Especially when it's whiskey, or scotch, or bourbon. Or beer, but only certain beers that I enjoy. This may seem in contrast to resolution number one, but these are not numbered by priority.
3. Pay better attention to the news/current events. Man, I never have any idea what is going on. I mean really, I am shockingly out of touch with shit. I don't know if it's just because I mostly find the news depressing or because I am self-centered and only follow things going on in my more immediate biosphere. I don't think biosphere is the right word. Perhaps another resolution could be to use words correctly.
4. Travel more. I like exploring. I have seen shockingly few other countries and have neglected whole regions of the United States.
5. Publish a book. I went through the trouble of writing one this year, and am trying to work on a few more and/or a compendium of short stories, as in stories of diminutive length, not about diminutive people, but that might come up. But yeah, I would like to share that shit. Also, maybe this time I won't write entirely in the second person, because that's probably annoying. But publishing, I think maybe that takes a long time, so I'll settle for writing more and getting the other sorts of gears in motion.
6. Read more. I love books, but I don't read enough of them.
7. Cook more. Cooking is fun. I do it not infrequently, but I need to do some more inventive things in the kitchen.
8. Take more/better photos. I have a camera, I'd like to get a fancier one someday. But I rarely take that thing with me. This can include candids and thoughtful photography because they both serve a purpose.
9. Eat healthier. I love my sweets, but damn, as frequently happens, it can get out of hand. My half-British heritage has thus far made me impervious to Wilford Brimley disease, but I don't want to one day be a cancerous carcass of high fructose corn syrup. So maybe I will amend this to trying to eat only things with real sugar.
10. Spend less time on the internet. This is probably the most important one. I don't really know how much time I piss away on the internet relative to regular humans (I certainly watch far less TV than the American "average" according to however reliable such statistics are), but I still know it is too much. Real life > virtual life.

So yeah, I settled on ten, and the thing is, all I did was pull these right off the top of my head, which is how I operate with many things. So perhaps "putting more thought into things" could be a resolution, but then I'd stop being me, and that would be no fun, at least for me.

Now it's switching gears a little bit, but I never cease to get a kick out of the corruption that goes on in my hometown, this time the high school janitors being linked to a prescription drug scheme. Unlimited refills on prescription drugs for public employees? Whoa, no wonder my monthly fee is so wonderfully high. One of those janitors is the son of our former AD, now on the school board, and whose wife once taught me in the "academically talented" group in elementary school. There are all sorts of problems with that last statement, especially grouping me with the academically talented.

In the proper holiday spirit, I was prank called on Christmas day. Sadly I wasn't there to receive the call but no worries as this individual decided to leave me a message. As my voicemail features my voice and my name, I have to wonder if this person does in fact know me. But as aforementioned (last post), this person appears to be male and in their teenage years. Guess I have to stop hanging around the Middle School giving out my phone number. So much for scouting for potential...

I think it's funny that you can say at this time "see you next year" and it's not all too bastardly or depressing because well, the next year is awfully close. So I hope you all had a swell 2009 and will have an even better 2010.

Yes, the happiest of new years.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Rise of the Demise

Normally I wouldn't be blogging on back-to-back days, but with Brittany Murphy's passing this morning, it certainly got me thinking and I felt as if a topic like this deserves its separate piece. To me, celebrity and athlete deaths seem to be on the rise of late. Now I'm not sure if it's simply greater coverage by the media creating this false perception in my head, or simply short-sightedness created by the passing of both Chris Henry and Brittany Murphy in the past three days. Both, I would say, passed away under rather unusual conditions. That is not to say that the circumstances surrounding the end of life should ever be considered normal, but there always seems to be a lot more going on than we have any idea about in these situations. And while it is intriguing and they are celebrities and meant to be comfortable in the public eye, everybody deserves a little privacy now and then. So no speculation here, just a couple of shots of them both enjoying life while they were still living it.





In unrelated news I was prank called today. I didn't know people still did that, which is probably very much related to the prevalence of caller ID. You never have to answer the phone when a phone number says "restricted," but since it was a Sunday, I was intrigued. We're always intrigued. My best guess says an androgynous human of mid-to-late teen years. How it is they managed to get my phone number I don't rightly know. I think I turned out a pretty boring prank anyway...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Meowy Christmouse

It's a few days early to say the least but given the regularity (or lack thereof) of my blogging at times I opted to title this Christmassy. I managed to totally bypass Chanukah. Oops. Makes sense though, as this was easily the least memorable Chanukah I can remember. Yes, worded just like that. It was latke-free among other deficiencies. For shame to my Jewish roots. Next year...

As for Christmas, I mean, there is no denying that I like the lights, the ugly Christmas sweaters (that is the number three image result when searching for "ugly christmas sweater"), and the idea of a lot of the other stuff. Other stuff includes eggnog, cider, and the music. Every year I get excited for eggnog, and I don't know why. This year I even bought some festive eggnog ice cream. This does not go down like the much tastier seasonal pumpkin offering Edy's has. I'm still going to finish eating it, but I'm not really going to enjoy it. Cider is another thing I like on principal, but rarely in practice. I actually am not denying that warm cider has tasty properties, it just doesn't exactly sit well. That is my fault, not the cider's. Sorry cider, not trying to cut you down. And then, of course, there is the music. Man, it's true that I could hear Mariah Carey sing "All I Want for Christmas is You" for a seemingly endless amount of time (bolstered strongly by its association with Love Actually).

And that's another one, the holiday films. Many of them are a miss for me (or perhaps I am amiss?), but I'm watching Elf as I type away here, and man, that really just works for me. I tried to find a reference to the title of this post, but no such luck. I believe it was some horrendous-sounding production that might have appeared on NPR one year as I drove up to Massachusetts for a Christmas past. Oddly relevant is the ad I just witnessed for the new Alvin and the Chipmunks film. Why Jason Lee is in this and why they chose to make it at all are the usual sorts of questions worth asking but so it goes. In the spirit of catty Christmases, I read that article about a woman with hundreds of cats in her Chester Township home. I thought it was extra fitting given "Chester the Cat," but there is no Chester the Cat, I was deluded by the Cheetos cheetah mascot. Oops.

Finally, in the spirit of giving, I am giving praise to Jimmy Fallon. I was pretty low on Jimmy when he first took over the late late spot as he just looked nervous up there, which made me uncomfortable and did not translate well into humor. But Jimmy has really come into his own with performances such as this Neil Young/Fresh Prince parody. Keep up the good work Mr. Fallon.

I think it's high time I cut this entry off as I'm feeling rather distracted so I'm closing out with this Michael Leviton track I've really been feeling of late.



A lot of people were acting like assholes last night and I was tempted to do a little griping here but there's no real need. Dingleberries will be dingleberries...Happy Holidays everyone. May you find yourselves warm and in the company of those you value most.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eldrick's Secret

So for the first time ever I watched the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. And then I watched it again. And again. I mean, I've certainly appreciated a model here or there, dating back to the days before my high school supercrush Laetitia Casta. [Clearly I was not the only person to feel this way.] But my multiple views and appreciation weren't accounted for by just my newfound love of winter-hat wearing Erin Heatherton nor the cherub-face and perfect imperfection of Abbey Lee Kershaw's teeth. No, I was also captivated by the musical selections.

Honestly watch this mash-up of Message in a Bottle and Sex is on Fire and the strange bellhop choreography and tell me it doesn't bring a smile to your face. Incorporating some cow bell in there with it just really gets it done. And the mash-up of Same Old Song and Use Somebody that followed it simply raised it to a whole other level. Hell I was even enjoying the Black-Eyed Peas in there. Am I supposed to hyphenate that? Ah, the little things in life.

On a slightly different surrounded-by-beautiful-women note, we have Tiger, aka Eldrick, Woods. Now I have never been much of a Tiger fan, but I did somewhat respect his golf skills, even if I consider it a strange activity to excel at. The thing was, and is, that he always struck me as bland and boring. But what do I know? And when you're carrying on multiple long-term liaisons, your life is probably anything but boring (even if you yourself might be). Yes, it's pretty hard to avoid the whole Tiger affair news and all the accumulated and slowly-released damning evidence. In terms of hilarious soundbytes, this one is pretty good. Even when he is allegedly frantic he strikes me as bland. But then, I'm probably pretty guilty of being a drab and monotone phone conversationalist on those occasions I actually use one.

So of course, there will certainly continue to be no shortage of Tiger new stories, spoofs, etc but, amidst all that coverage, I think Stephen A. Smith covers it in like a fashion in which you should probably listen. The first bit is about Allen Iverson, so just jump to the middle once the podcast loads if you'd only like to hear his opinion on Tiger.

So right I'm tired as shit and needing to detox from/sleep off a multi-day cookie, booze, and deep-dish binge so y'all take care now...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Said Baby...

It's 3am I should be sleepy. I am forever getting this song stuck in my head when the hour gets late and I think perhaps sleep would be a good idea. Never been much of one for Matchbox 20/Rob Thomas to be honest, but it's a testament to the [one-time] power of radio and pop promotion that I can still recite the lyrics to their biggest hits.

Speaking of big hits, I watched the documentary made on Valentino the other day (courtesy sister-in-law) and I have to say, that it was pretty kick ass. I'm fairly inept when it comes to high-end fashion, and perhaps we could extend that to fashion in general. But I at least know what I like, and if I was a wealthy, high-powered woman, I would like Valentino (RIP). The dude is a total eccentric and yet another reminder of that fine line between genius and mental illness/disorder. He's a total diva but yes, I think this film actually contains something for all. That's right, an out and out recommendation.

I think that is saying something considering I should have been all fashioned out after viewing the Iris Apfel Exhibition at Salem's Peabody Museum. The exhibition title refers to her as irreverent and I don't know whether this is meant to be complimentary. You'd think they might be trying for hmm, I don't know, iconic? But irreverent might be more apt as many of the hideous and ridiculous garments show a lack of respect for the tender stomachs of unseasoned onlookers. Needless to say, I won't be needing to see any more outfits composed of feathers of some birds I've never even heard of. Instead I'll just remember this kooky old lady for her appearances in vintage Old Navy commercials, which I am too tired to attempt to locate.

There was some other crap I was going to add but my coffee and insane intake of sweets (Thanksgiving's four slices of pie + apple crisp + ice cream seem like a joke in comparison) this evening has finally worn off. Tasks to burn off this excess energy included attempting to complete my November novel and a creepy and beautiful walk along the lake. Creepy because some little critters of indeterminate origin spooked the shit out of me. No contacts+relative darkness=Jebbo potentially crapping pants.

In other news it's December (wow) and it is about to get cold as a motherfucker up in this bitch. With New Year's oh-so-close I may pledge to curse less. It really does take away from things that profanity it does, and when you use it less, it really packs that extra oomph when you do deliver it. I also intend to start speaking in websites again. I may even start blogging about less boring shit, but don't count on it. This may include a once weekly attempt at a humorous short story or something. Hard to say. But once more I must say, this little boy is tired and I must bid you adieu.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksliving

Dudes and dudettes of the virtual world, what is up? As for me, I'm back east for a jiffy as I prepare to celebrate my most favoritest (close enough to being a word) holiday: Thanksgiving. For reference I looked back at my last two Thanksgiving-related postings because I just knew I'd have them. I have to say, last year the relevancy of this post was pretty low, but I think I really got it right two years ago with this holiday recipe.

At the close of last year's post I said that Thanksgiving combines the five f's, and then proceeded to list only four. Well shit, I'd amend it, but I hate editing (even though I have worked as an editor). Now that I've used the s-word there perhaps I can add foul language as the fifth f. After all, not everyone loves their family, and Thanksgiving can be a calamitous occasion. So right, I can be thankful that is not the case with my own. Blah blah blah...

So yes, I am not going to bother to add much more in this post because I have been writing a crapton lately and I can't think of too much meaningful to add...except this Camera Obscura video because I have been digging this album lately. Once the weather turns chilly these guys and, for much longer, Belle and Sebastian get a lot more play. Haunting, soothing voices, soft melodies, whiskey, sweaters, blankets...pretty good.



Have yourselves a merry little Thanksgiving...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th: The Gathering Storm

Happy Friday the 13th everyone. I don't actually keep track of how frequently Fridays the 13th (Friday the 13ths?) occur, but I do know this is at least the second of 2009. Usually Friday the 13th isn't anything all that special aside from the standard triskaidekaphobia and potential launch dates for the next Jason slasher. Our last Friday the 13th takes us way back to March. So much and so little could be said to have occurred since then, but mostly I am wondering why I am writing this as if I am a shitty disc jockey.

In other news, holy fucking shit. I was browsing the library's online catalog yesterday and what should finally be available but book 12 in the mothertruckin' Wheel of Time series. All of you excited bastards can buy it here.


Cover art: amazing[ly embarrassing] as always


As someone trying to do a little writing here and there and struggling to spew out a fledgling 50,000 word novel[la], this dude makes me look like an invalid. Posthumous publication of the ending of this series is likely to hit a whopping 685,000 words. I can't wait ( I can totally wait) to sink my teeth into this. I might just wait until all three are released so that I might finally resolve what's going down with Rand Al' Thor and the boys. The Dragon, it appears, is somewhat reborn.

Speaking of dragons, or at least beasts, Lance Armstrong qualifies:


What a garage was really built for.



I would fear hitting myself in the nuts.



Looking insane...



And more insane...


Conclusion: Lance Armstrong, drug cheat or not, is like intercourse while camping:


In tents!



Lastly, it really deserves its own post (or Kellogg's or General Mills...tap that cymbal...), but I've been loving the shit out of this Encyclopedia of cereal. All of their content is amazing, but I've pegged a few favorites:

Quisp cereal

Buckwheats

• Rice Krinkles and their racist mascot So-Hi.

Just a reminder of how epic shit used to be. The ads for these cereals are miniature stories and TV series in their own right. You weren't just eating breakfast, you were eating history. Until next time...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My New Favorite Website

Awesome websites are all over the place these days, but I just stumbled on this one. I guarantee enjoyment or your money back, and since you didn't spend any money to view that, that's a guarantee I stand by.

Last week as a nice fall/Halloweeny activity I traveled with some folks to The World's Largest Corn Maze. I'd never gone through a corn maze, let alone the world's largest but I have to say it was good times. I like the creepy rustling sound of brushing against the stalks and husks. Maybe next year a reprisal where I try to spook other maze-goers. Another reason to like corn mazes? The obvious "maize" pun. Booyah.

Dear Apple,
Please cut it with the Mac v. PC ads. Not only is it getting old, it has spawned all of these ridiculous counter PC ads. I do like the one with that little Asian girl, she is super cute, but I'm also influenced by the sweet musical accompaniment that reminds me so fondly of Gob Bluth. Why are people admitting that they are hardwired machines that generally can't run for more than six hours without being plugged into a power source? I mean, my laptop sort of kicks ass, but I like being a human more. Thanks guys.

Also, I joined twitter. I haven't begun to use it, but I thought that I'd secure myself a handle in case fate and peer pressure ever temp me...and believe me, they tempt me all the time.

One more thing: Happy Eve to the Eve of All Hallow's Eve...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkins, Porn, and Pesto

I'd be lying if I said I experienced all of those in the last twenty-four hours, but it's close. I was just reading over my last entry and realized that's what happens when you have a few drinks and you come home to your iTunes playing My Girl. What a jam. The sad thing is, not even I know what the Hell the rest of that entry is referencing.

I can also tell you that when you eat nearly an entire container of Edy's Pumpkin Ice Cream your head gets all warm, or at least mine does, unless it's the slow release of poisonous pesto from Quizno's. I like pumpkin when it comes to pie but frequently find it overdone with a lot of things. When things are labeled pumpkin, they're generally more just excessively cinnamony, and sometimes too much in the way of cloves, but I was diggin' this. It was the perfectly melted consistency from the short walk from the grocery. Unfortunately, and I can't tell you what in ice cream production accounts for this property (probably just simple rules of melting), the outsides turned to mush while the inside remained firm, resulting in a rotating cylinder of over-packed ice cream. Still, I just dug around the edges with some broccoli (truth) and pita chips (salt + sweet = awesome). I am intrigued by the potential for perhaps combining this with Guinness and/or Bailey's but right now I wish my head weren't so damn hot. No room here to discuss pumpkin beer.

The last order of business is viewing porn in public libraries. Yes, I am making the distinction of public because some peoplehave their own libraries. Hell, technically, just a bunch of books in your bedroom constitutes your library, but I am talking some fancy shit with a whole room or more dedicated to books 1800s-style. I like to kick it at the big-time public library when I can, but I'll stay local when I don't have additional downtown business to attend to. I like to go upstairs to the adult and fiction/literature section. Lo-and-behold it is indeed the adult section as I have not once, but twice, noted an old dude (at least in his mid-40s, which isn't that old, but age isn't really the point here) viewing some form of fetish porn. Considering I a) was reprimanded for having a water bottle in the library, b) was reprimanded for removing my shoes in the library, and c) was reprimanded for briefly napping at a desk in the library (and it was not crowded), I find it rather amazing that this guy is able to go about his business on a regular basis. And maybe it's as simple as that, that he's much more of a regular.

But now I've gotta go to get away from it all, perhaps to Kokomo...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Girl

Talkin' 'bout myyyyyyyyyyyyyyy girl; my girl, oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh.

Sometimes shit is funny when it happens, and sometimes it's even funnier in retrospect.

If you really want to know, all you have to do is ask.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

You Can Be a Model; You Can Be Murdered

With the economy as it is and unemployment continually on the rise, it warms the hearts of citizens like myself to read about the record bonuses being given out on Wall Street this year. Positively delightful. If they want to set aside a cool billion for me and my homies, maybe I'd complain a little less. It's always a question: if I had a shit-ton money would I feel the same? I'd probably feel some compulsion to do something socially responsible with it. While I spent my time researching a worthy endeavor or organization, I'd be keeping most of that money under my mattress.

I'm certainly not in as economically dire straits as so many in this country and around the globe but I'm still attracted by the quick buck. So I'll find myself periodically responding to craigslist modeling scams, and it is responses like this that make it entirely worth it:

Hello,

Good to read from you. It is a great opportunity you have just drawn close to yourself. I must make you understand that I have been a professional photographer and a publisher for the past 7yrs and now I am working in the industry to gain more ground as a model agent.

It is a print job for the late year 2009 and It will be good if you share in this great opportunity as we all know that the best of life is the one shared.

The location for the shoot will be an indoor location and it will not be disclosed to you until we have reach a certain agreement but do not be disturbed as you would not have to travel.

Please take proper note of the following details:
· Your pay for this assignment is $1000 by the end of the shoot.
· The shoot date will be on 17th of October.
· The name and address of the studio to be used for the shoot will be disclosed to you after we reach a certain agreement and before the date of the shooting.
· We will take care of your make-up or make-over because we have professional specialist ready to take good care of that because we want a completely unique shoot.
· You are allowed to come along to the shoot with anybody of your choice on the day of the shooting, your mum, dad, friend, body-guard anybody you wish to come with just to make you feel comfortable but not more than one person is allowed as your escort.
· You will have 6 different fashion outfits to cover and all these outfits will be provided by our client on the day of shoot. The types of clothing will be Shirts, Suits, Jacket, Jean, Beach & Night Gowns (Note: There is no nudity in this shoot).
· You must be 17years or above.
· You must posses a very strong interpersonal skill (This is very important)..
· You must be worthy of trust.
Our client's name is Mrs. Katrine Miller and her Magazine’s name is "KATEAUS IMAGE" and here is her website as a designer http://sites.google.com/site/kateausimage/.

As i already mentioned, your pay for the jobs is $1,000 and the shoot will only last for 6hours starting from 10am – 4pm.

Please get in touch with me immediately if you are available to take this job.
I will be waiting to read from you along with one recent photograph and measurements of yourself ASAP.

Regards..



There really was no name attached to the email, but it could always have been another Philip Markoff.

I can't decide if this was written by an Eastern-European robot or what exactly, but it does indeed give me a good laugh and I agree with the writer's assertion that "the best life is one shared." That's part of why I'm sharing such a great email with you. The safety assurance that you can bring whoever you like with you really sets me at ease. In just the same way that seeing a lot of cops makes me think a neighborhood is real safe. I was tempted to respond to see where these folks set up operation, but I didn't quite have it in me.

Top o' the morning to you folks; after all it's morning somewhere...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Run For Your Life

Some straight up beast running took place this past weekend, a good deal of it in my "back yard" as the Chicago Marathon runs right past my apartment at about the seven-and-a-half mile mark. I got a couple of shots and a little video of the race leaders and all sorts of random competitors but I was fairly unprepared to do so most of the time and I've not taken the time to upload them yet anyway. It was also cold enough that my battery was falsely reading as being low on charge. In the meantime, here's a shot of race-winner and reigning Olympic champ Samuel Wanjiru.


Wanjiru: Total Beast.

These elites glide along so effortlessly running 4:50 miles and faster that it's a bit surreal. I'd be pretty content if I could be running that for 5k right now. The first question anyone asks when they find out you are a runner is if you've ever run a marathon. It's always been "no" and "I don't think I ever will" as responses, but I think I might change my tune after my first viewing experience. To put it mildly, it kicked ass: great venue, supporters/spectators all over the course, and various tunes bumping at different mileage markers.

In other running news this weekend wonderboyman Dathan Ritzenhein, my high school contemporary, threw down at the World Half-Marathon Championships, finishing just a second out of second to earn the Bronze.

Yes, Ritz, you earned that.

Ritz was dominating the high school scene when I first got addicted to running and watching his scrawny and over-exerted frame collapse to win the Foot Locker National Championship as a junior made me a fan of his for life. I couldn't scrounge up a photo of that on short notice, but here's another shot of what Ritz looks like after inhuman efforts:


Ritz makes me want to be tough. And speaking of tough, Man v. Food host Adam Richman, recently attempted a challenge I've long wanted to undertake and know I have no shot at: the fat sandwich competition at Rutgers' own Grease Trucks. The trick is to eat five sandwiches in 45 minutes to rename one. As the Targum spoils, Adam fails at four sandwiches. All I can say is I wish I had been there. I'm not even that beast of an eater, but with a long-run, a few beers, and perhaps a currently illegal THC-containing substance, I think I might have been able to match four...I can certainly do three, and I suck. Mostly it boils down to me being jealous of Adam's job.

Finally, there are those times I wonder why I haven't explored traditional paths to gaining a job as a teacher. Well, and I know it's a bit silly sometimes to use something like this as a barrier, but when my potential peers post messages like this:
"teaching a math lesson tomorrow....i should prob care more but i just dont lol"...well let's just say I feel less thrilled at being on an equivalent level with such an individual. You can't always let pride get in the way, but my god I sometimes fear for the education of the youth of tomorrow. Here I sit, doing little to amend that.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Odrama

The biggest news story today (and it probably should be) is President Obama's selection as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, upon hearing of BO's taking the prize I have to say I felt the surprise a lot of folks seem to feel. However, Nobel's will states the prize shall be given "to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses." I don't follow politics — on any level, local, state, national, international — to the extent that I probably should, so I couldn't tell you who would actually have been a much more prime candidate to take home the award. Of course, as has been suggested, Obama might not actually accept the prize and make a benevolent statement about how he will share it with the world.

I can see that happening, but it doesn't have to have attached to it the deeply sarcastic tone that seems to be attached to this newscast from MSNBC. Their tone is entirely negative, and they seem to list the only upside to his victory as the Nobel committee having made suspect selections in the past and befuddling a lot of people with the choice of Obama. Wait, that is the upside? I am pretty sure your statement just made no sense buddy. Honestly, I think there tends to be more controversy over the Maxim/FHM/Other prominent men's magazine's Hot 100 List or People's 50 Most Beautiful.

As I said, I don't follow politics closely and I would be happy to hear who is more deserving than Obama rather than simply making the case that he is, well, undeserving. Waaa...waaa...he didn't deserve it...Okay you genius pundits, who does? No, wait, let's ignore that and say, "Well, he does get over a million dollars for winning it." And then, to dispel the tension, let's have some dolt chime in, "That's pretty good...great contest." Hooray broadcast journalism.

Of the little I have seen in support of the Nobel choice, one citation is Obama's Cairo Speech, the full hour of which is brought to you by the glory of youtube:


Now, I haven't watched it yet, but given the subject matter, I'd say it might qualify for Nobel's "most or best work for fraternity between nations." Unfortunately it took place about four months after nominations were due. Oops...Didn't Obama also pledge to close Guantanamo in the next year? Pledge does differ from action, though. But Hell, don't a lot of foreign countries like the US a lot more now simply without Bush in power? Has Obama instilled them with, dare I reference that campaign slogan, hope?

Mostly I just wanted to cite what a bunch of clowns those MSNBC people were. While the premise of this blog was griping, it was always meant to have a little more humor attached to it. Well, look out for change as I hope to revert back to some old flow and style. I should have lots of good stories once I head over to Paris with Lindsay. Oh yes...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Chicago Out, Rio In

Well, it's official, Rio has been selected as the host of the next Summer Olympics and by next I mean 2016, so the one after London. Right.

I've been to Brazil, and it was awesome. Granted I was in the north, hours away from Rio, but a quick google image search yields the following shots that I think say, "Hey, this might work as a host site for the Olympics."


Dope.


Really dope.


It'll be kickin' at night.

I'd think safety will be an extra big issue here, but it's the Olympics, so it always is. And given my brief experience with the people of Brazil, the parties will be wild, the women will be really attractive (the Olympians won't exactly be chopped liver...), and the Pitu will be flowing.

This ad might sum it up pretty well:


Beleza...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicago: Should it be the Olympic[k]?

So I've only been in Chicago for a bit over a month (today actually marks the exact five-week mark) but I have to say I really love this city, which I think I've already said already (it's already ready already...). If there was something I loved before coming here, well, there'd be a lot of things, but the Olympics would be among them. I've mentioned in here before how, come Olympic time, I'll watch pretty much every single sport. Even catching just the tail-end of summer in the Windy City I can grasp what an amazing Summer venue this makes, Olympics aside. So throw in sports and how could it not be even better right? Not so fast.

I'll ignore that I might not even be in Chicago come 2016, let alone on this planet since that is a sort of selfish and cynical foresight and actually has nothing to do with why I might not want the Olympics to come here. Instead let's take a look at what atmosphere the Olympics really creates. My buddy Jon sent me an article in which David Zirin raises some good points. Yes, existing real estate and parks will be knocked down or built over to create Olympic facilities. Nevermind the displacement of the people who might be living in such areas as Zirin points out, this will create plenty of construction jobs at a bare minimum, will it not? This is true, but what will Chicago do with these facilities when the Olympics are through? Recent host nation China is struggling to recoup the cost of the $450 million Bird's Nest Stadium .


The Nest looks nice at night, but since the Olympics it's a bit of a barren blight.

It's a little worse when you throw in Mayor Daley's assertion that any costs that go over bid will be covered by taxpayers...Oh really? If there's one thing, or at least a thing, I've noted in Chicago, it is the ridiculous 10.25% sales tax. It's also on seemingly everything, including groceries, although it might just be on some of the sugary products I purchase that don't quite constitute food. There's a lot of cool free shit to do in Chicago, which I am sure these taxes help fund, but I can't help but think I'm getting dicked daily by Daley...

Right, and then there's the corruption surrounding getting Olympic bids (see: Salt Lake City), and Hell it'll take effect in constructing facilities and sponsorship as well. And while this might not be the most solid news source, it's a glimpse into Chicago's history of corruption, and the corruption here is no real secret.

But wait, won't these problems exist anywhere the Olympics are taken? The answer is probably yes, but the implications are it could be a little worse here. And so, regardless of the decision of the IOC come Friday, I'll be unsure whether or not to celebrate. One thing's for certain, I'll be drinking either way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sweet Tooth

If there's one thing about me, it's that i've got a hell of a sweet tooth. Actually, that probably isn't at the top of the list for "one thing about me," but I do have a hell of a sweet tooth. If there's one thing about me it's that, for whatever reason, I've been saying, "If there's one thing..." a Hell of a lot lately, with potentially no end in sight. Back on sweets, I've frightened obese people at casino buffets (and standard buffets) with my consumption and I've gotten some looks at the grocery store when I check out with four tubs of Edy's, a couple boxes of cereal and a two-liter of Dr. Pepper. My whole family is really down with sweets as well, and we've got some good bakers, so I often leave the holiday season like many other people: having overdone it. All of a sudden, a few months back, around March, and lasting until well into June (and perhaps beyond — could I qualify this sentence anymore?), my sweet tooth disappeared. I still consumed the periodic sweet but not with the voracity of days past.

I'm happy to say – because I know people were worried – that my sweet tooth is back. When Edy's is on sale for $2.49 it doesn't hurt either. But what I've really been fiending for lately, is cookies. There is probably a strong correlation with the fact that, while running Sunday afternoon, the scent of freshly baked cookies inexplicably wafted through downtown, even way over by the lake shore path. Also, post heavy boozing I think my body tends to crave more sweets due to the exposure to all of the sugars associated with alcohol. Oh, and then there's the 50 miles a week I've been running, which tends to send my body in search of those simple calories and simple joys. So strong was this compulsion that I ordered six cookies and two ice cream cones from McDonald's last night. "Could I get two McChickens..." The cashier looked at me and said "That's it?" Wanting to give into American overconsumption I said, "Oh, and two ice cream cones and six cookies — chocolate chip." She didn't ask if I needed anything else after that. I enjoyed dipping my cookies into my cones, but I confess I wish there were a Mrs. Field's storefront in close proximity.

When I woke up this morning, I was still craving cookies. I checked my email and immediately googled "cookies." Thanks to those featured links, Cheryl and Co popped up. Overpriced and fancily packaged, I was still thinking, "I should order myself a few dozen," and was reminded of how the Home Shopping Network and as-seen-on-TV products must clean up.

On a way more Jersey note, because I always like to stay in touch with the homeland, I read this article about Millburn High School's slut list. Millburn is a ritzy suburban Jersey town (we've got a lot of those) known for having the top-ranked public high school in the state and alumnus Anne Hathaway. Hathaway always struck me as a turd, but I've never met her and I try to be nicer these days. Hell, I'm sure plenty of people that see me as a stranger think I'm a turd. They might not be wrong.

In the interest of one of my other interests, namely booze, a friend recently linked over this 1990 GQ article on the drinking exploits of the late Ted Kennedy (among other things). While GQ is generally about 900 million pages of high-gloss ads, I'm periodically (oh the unintentional puns, sorry Maddox) alerted to some really solid interviews/biopics contained within. This goes on that list.

Finally, amidst a pretty excellent weekend of football viewing, there were these sideline gems that, of course, I was able to find just now with a quick youtubing. First, billionaire oilman and Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones picking his nose on national TV. Not much of a digger, but I'll take it! Far more amusing in my estimation was Bears' QB Jay Cutler having his helmet knocked off by a referee (skip ahead to ~20 seconds to catch it).

I am off to buy some produce and, let's be honest, probably some cookies as well...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's a Midwest Thang

Well shootz brah it's been a long time. It's ya boy Jeb here, hollerin' at you from Chicago. I had planned to churn out one last nugget of love from my old Jersey IP, but alas it wasn't to be. Hell, I've been here a week and a half and I'm just getting to this now. Under ordinary circumstances I don't like to make my blog too synopsesy (yeah, we all know it's not a word), and yet it probably ends up happening a shit-ton anyway. In general blogs are themed, sort of niche marketing if you will, and my theme is that there is no theme except that the words put down here tend to be related to my retarded brain and interests.

So in the world of track, a world I'd inhabit a bit more if I were much faster, things have been going down. The world championships took place a couple of weeks ago and Usain Bolt did what Usain Bolt does, rewrite the record book for the 100m and 200m. Demented is a word that comes to mind when I watch this guy run, this guy who is younger than me. Of course, I'm biased towards the longer distances I have competed in in my lifetime, so when Dathan Ritzenhein crushed the American Record in the 5k, I was pretty stoked. I think it certainly helped that it seemed more unexpected than Bolt's tremendous performances and that Ritz graduated the same year as me in high school and I've been following the guy from my earliest love of the sport.

The only knock against Bolt, for me, is that he's so amazing I turn my surprise-o-meter off when watching him. I'm hoping humble little Tyson Gay can put things together after his impending groin surgery and make things interesting. Yes, I called Gay little because according to his USATF bio we are the same height and he only weighs ten pounds more than I do. Considering I run 50+ miles a week these days and my bicep is roughly the same size as my tricep, well, that surprises me. Not as much as reading that the man in the photo below apparently also only weighs ten pounds more than I. Corresponding photo of self on its way sometime in the next decade.



Blah blah, nerdly track commentary. Before I wrap up though, shout out to Matt Tegenkamp as well who dipped under the coveted 13-minute barrier in the 5k himself.

Quick notes on Chicago include that it kicks ass. It's a city, no question, but there's a friendliness to it that I never quite found in Boston and New York. Just roaming the streets as I try to get a feel for things I have had many a spontaneous conversation with strangers. On my runs too, I've been feeling the love. I have no problem admitting, as I frequently do in here, that my appearance might be something the average dick and jane are not used to. I'm shirtless, in tiny shorts, cross country flats rather than traditional trainers, probably sweating gratuitously and, oh yeah, I run like I'm sitting down. I must reassert as I always do, that when I'm running it doesn't feel like I'm adopting such ridiculous posture. I hope the high-fives from bikers continue but I think that as the weather gets cooler I will be one of the few souls out roaming the streets.

Also, every time I see photos people have taken while in Chicago they tend to include this giant shiny orb and I definitely was kind of thinking what and where the eff is that thing until I walked by it in Millenium Park. As usual I tend to forget my camera when doing anything so my own chronicling of the orb will surely follow...maybe.

So, until they create the camera built into your eyes or hand, I am going to continue to forget to photograph a bunch of pretty cool shit I have been lucky enough to see here and there. That applies to uncool shit as well, like the tow truck that backed up and crushed the front bumper of a Subaru that wasn't even going to be towed, just in the wrong place...Welcome to September folks, wake me up when it ends.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Celebrating Greatness

Once again it's been a while since I've updated this whole business. I'd say it's because I charge for my best material, but that would be a lie.

First things first, I need to shout out my boy BTB for his first piece of published (as in printed, not just strewn up on the internet) journalism. Even if you might not have too much vested interest in the Seattle City Council race, I suggest you give it a read. I admit to some obvious bias in reading most anything Bryan writes, but don't let that influence you.

Now I am traditionally pretty aloof and a non-follower of news and contemporary non-fictional journalism, but thanks to Facebook I saw that my old Freshman-year roommate had produced this story on the effect of drug cartels on migrant workers filtering in from Mexico. I am fairly certain this is not Sacha's first piece to reach print, but it's the first thing of his I've read since he asked me to read one of his Latin American History class papers eight years ago. Jesus how the time flies. I remember thinking there was a certain alluring flair to his language then and I'd say it holds up now but who cares what I think, go read for yourself. The story is bolstered by the fact that it isn't your conventional rush-to-press type headline and had a good quantity of research put into it, but I think this is all about what good journalism is and why, I hope, people continue to realize that sometimes we have to pay for news. The internet is great for quick breaking news, and print can't really keep up because I can post to my damn blog/twitter/facebook faster than the New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, etc can get anything through the presses but, at least for me, it's as much how the story is told as it simply being told.

With so much emphasis on being the first to report, a lot of research is sloppy, and the real depth and full story behind each story can be rather decidedly lacking. This is not a groundbreaking observation. Thousands if not millions of people have been realizing this for a while now. What are we going to do to maintain "quality" journalism? Well, I don't really know, so it's a good thing I'm not in charge.

But enough of that brief tirade, I'd like to pay some brief homage to my not namesake Jeremy Roenick, who will be announcing his retirement from the NHL in the coming day(s)/hours. The puckdaddy blog sums things up pretty well for the uninitiated on what made Roenick so special. He was and is accessible and a character and not in the circus-type depressing way Starbury seems to be sadly drooping to. With Joe Sakic having retired as well it's truly marking the end of the era of hockey players I followed in yesteryear. I still enjoy hockey yet, somehow, with the information more readily at my fingertips than ever, I just haven't managed to follow it like I did a decade and more ago. Regardless I tip the hat I don't wear to Roenick and a little late to Sakic as well, another recent retiree.

Roenick's retirement got me thinking about my favorite current athlete, regardless of sport. Try as I might, I couldn't come up with just one. My allegiances are generally bizarrely developed, based entirely on a vibe and gut feeling I get about someone. It makes it difficult to articulate why I like certain athletes, but at least fairly stolid in supporting them (there is a better word than the dry and boring "stolid," but it escapes me). So rather than a list of my favorite athletes, where I would be sure to accidentally leave off a few names, I will instead present to you my new favorite name in sports: Dudi Sela. "Oh man, are you playing with Dudi tomorrow?" Makes me think of Dudi's alliterative cousin, "Poop Purveyor." Yes, oh yes, may my love of potty humor never die...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Veggie Pizza is Hard to Beat

It's confession time: I love the internet, but goddamn do I ever hate it. File that one under obvious. When I'm editing, or even when I'm not, I tend to piss away gargantuan amounts of time on the net. Now this isn't exactly anything unique to me, but remember in my description I said I'll be griping. And so, when I hopped onto a Boston-bound bus this weekend, I opted not to bring my laptop, even though I was riding in style on the Bolt which offers free wifi and a lower death and explosion rate than either Fungwah or Lucky Star. I feel like the laptop makes you that much more antisocial as well, even if I was rolling with my iPod.

It's also nice to come back and have a few more emails than usual awaiting you and getting to sift through them over a bowl of tasty breakfast cereal. And in the interest of making the mundane a little more exciting, I really dig this video, which I believe is of German origin where two blokes go about their normal day and execute a bunch of slick tossing and timing moves. I guess it could be doctored and whatnot, but sometimes it's nice not to be the cynic and just enjoy the magic.

Speaking of magic, it's hard to beat a weekend filled with friends and sunshine in a city like Boston. My frequent travel companion, booze, was on hand as well, this time incarnated as freshly brewed iced tea and Jim Beam. I hadn't had this in years and either my palate changed (likely) or I just forgot how delicious it was. Regardless, I recommend it highly.

Speaking of booze, here's a little snippet about teenage alcohol problems in Italy courtesy of my buddy Bryan. Yes. Though unrelated, I feel compelled to also link to this excerpt about cops busting other cops in a drug bust down in North Carolina. Classic shit right there. Credit once again to the Boneyard, my number one news source.

And last but certainly not least, PDA. I'm not talking "public displays of affection" or even "personal digital assistant" (yes, I had to look that one up, I couldn't for the life of me remember what that shit stood for), no, this is my brand new terminology "public displays of athleticism" (©Jebbo, July 2009). While in Brazil I found myself periodically dropping to the ground to partake in some push-ups with my local buddy Marcos. Stateside I've long been a fan of pull-ups on any sort of available area. This can include trees, awnings, New York City scaffolding, and bars in subway cars. It can even include the bars at a local playground as I observed several monsters pounding out sets when I finished up a run in McCarren Park a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I was thinking to throw in some pull-ups myself, so it was nice to have the camaraderie of this outdoor gym to balance out looking the fool doing pull-ups on scaffolding at three in the morning. I can't tell you precisely why, but I've long found pull-ups intensely satisfying, and I will admit that inebriation can add to this, and I will close by saying I highly recommend you give it a try; it will spice up your life.

Next step is to needlessly hurdle garbage cans, potted plants, and other street obstacles which I periodically attempt whilst running. I close with a photo of professional runner Martin Fagan and his sweet-ass tats (I dig the bats, and the brick backdrop). Rock over London, rock on Chicago...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Indian Takeaway

Not sure whether the recently arrived humidity is to blame for my bizarre nightmares and restless sleep last night, but it's certainly to blame for my appearance of having gone swimming after my run yesterday afternoon. This is the Jersey summer we all know and...loathe. But as much as it saps energy both physical and mental, there is a familiarity to it from which I can still derive some comfort, at least more comfort than dreaming I am a failed waiter who cannot remember his customers orders or how to write them down even. There needs to be a some form of moderate version of a nightmare to define dreams such as this where one really has no call to be frightened and yet finding yourself oddly gripped by panic. For now let's call them slightmares (©Jeb, 7/17/09 12:01pm).

I want to take a moment to finally link to this photo of Jenny Barringer and Gelete Burka at the Prefontaine Classic 1500m. I'd have just uploaded it but the pros who took the photo seemed to not want me to download or hotlink it, so rather than dinking around, I put up that link, which I promise is worth a quick view even if you don't give a shit about running.

In silly sports news from a week or two ago (I'm really on top of my blogging game), Lebron James was dunked on by a high schooler at some camp he hosted. Apparently Lebron did not want anyone to have footage of this and all video evidence has been confiscated. Sports bloggers are pronouncing the sauce weak, citing as well Lebron's reaction to losing to the Orlando Magic, but all I'm saying is "slow news week." As much as this scrutiny and analysis is known to come with the territory of being a well-compensated celebrity, it still sucks a bit of ass in my estimation. But then, I don't have to read about it...

I'd much rather stumble upon goofy paparazzi (paparazzo?) photos of what you might call interesting celebrity fashion choices. Somehow I don't think I'd live it down if my friends saw me wearing either of the following get-ups...

Cristiano Ronaldo



Ed "Chuck Bass" Westwick


Doesn't mean I still might not show up somewhere looking like that. And even though this isn't really that long, for the sake of short attention spans I will wait until my next entry to cover one of my new favorite things: PDA.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Frosted Lucky Charms

Recently returned from Brazil aka Brasil, it's time to get back on track. Dear diary, I've been meaning to write in you I just haven't had the proper motivation or, in some instances, internet connection.

As my first trip out of the country (unless you count Canada, but that is contiguous with the US), Brasil was a big deal for me. Seeing how I did and do not speak Portuguese and I traveled in the northeastern part of the country (where far fewer people speak English than in the South), it's pretty amazing what you can get by on. It also helps that our host had a host of connections by which we were able to travel safely and comfortably. The two things (well one, but with two meanings) people told me when I told them I was going to Brasil were: a) be careful, as it is rather dangerous in Brasil, with muggings, murders, and kidnappings; and b) be careful, as the women in Brasil are often very beautiful, sexually free, and like gringos.

I admit, I'm tempted to write a bit of a travel log, but as I already have a 34+ page paper one, I don't think I'm really going to do the country justice. Still, I will drop a few highlights: a) the exchange rate; b) the women; c) the booze; d) the food; and e) the partying.

Each American dollar will get you two Brasilian reals. This is good.

The women are frequently gorgeous but just like America, there are plenty of creatures. The women, though, are, in general, much friendlier than women here.

Booze is cheap cheap cheap in Brasil, and I liked this. Normally not a fan of pilsners, that's all they really drink in warm Brasil. But they serve it colder than cold and it is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. I have a soft-spot now for Skol. The other thing frequently consumed in Brasil is cachaca which, to me tastes like a combination of whiskey and tequila. Not really my thing, but I slowly grew accustomed, and it was astonishingly cheap at ~$1.75/liter bottle converted. This is often the main constituent to a caipirinha, accompanied by lime and cane sugar for some equivalency to a margherita. Apparently these have been trendy in places like NYC for some time, but I am not trendy, so I did not know.

You can get meat on a stick all over the place, macaxeira (yuca), salty queso, churros [that don't suck and are cooked fresh and are infused with dolce de leite or leite condescendo...shitdamn those are good], etc. I'm trying to keep this short, you know? Their ketchup sucks. Someone should import American ketchup. Maybe they wouldn't like it there, but man, I would.

This country can truly party. Lots of people have heard of Carnivale and how it stretches two-plus months, but even during all of July there is another festival held pretty much all day every day where people perform the traditional forró. With cheap booze, friendly people, and periodically ridiculously attractive women, you can see why you might be encouraged to party here.

Anyway, I don't think I remotely did this country justice but, bottom line: you should take a trip there if you have the chance. And a happy belated Independence Day to everyone...I know my liver might still be recovering.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mystikal

My good buddy Tom upbraided me for the decided lack of humor in my entries here, and he's totally right. Since a time I can't recall precisely, posts have taken a more "daily summary" shift. So here's a little something on a tasty dessert offering.

Initially I was tempted to call this simply "The Most Ill-Named Dessert of All-Time," but you always need to leave a little room at the top. That said, prepare yourself for one of the more oddly-named — and oddly delicious — entrants to the dessert market. Chocolate meets vanilla with that familiar cookie-crunch center, but takes things to an entirely new level with a mint chip and ice cream cone nose and flying saucer eyes. Yeah, that's right bitches, I'm talking about the Cookie Puss.


The likely progenitor of Cookie Puss. Fudgie played horse, while this guy played donkey, leaving Cookie Puss the sterile mule, contributing to his rarity.

I don't really know exactly what Papa Carvel was thinking except maybe a contrasting character to make Fudgie the Whale sound a little less ridiculous. Or, given the connotations of "fudge," maybe he was appealing to heteronormativity (incidentally, the theory of heteronormativity nearly won Einstein the Nobel Prize before he banged out that relativity business. To increase the length of this parenthetical I feel compelled to mention—though it was not my proudest moment—that as a weensy-bladdered youth I once relieved myself in the bushes outside Einstein's Princeton, NJ home).


Fudgie is an alcoholic.

Cookie puss will fade into history then as one of the odder creations but, having eaten nearly an entire one on my own at an office party for St. Patty's Day 2008 (come on people, I couldn't just let it melt), I've gotta say he's udderly delicious.

To truly prepare yourself for eating some c-puss though, you need to check out these classic Carvel ads for the creature in question: yes and yes.

Shit, I have a plane to catch...count it...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Times Great Oldies

It feels like ages since I've dropped a post in here and the last week's events would seemingly offer plenty of material. I'll kick things off with a little shameless self-promotion of my most recent race. Since concluding college I've raced rather sparingly. Immediately following my last race (Thanksgiving) I ended up injuring myself, and I followed suit here so, not knowing when my next run or race might be, right, that self-promotion thing. The local paper also put together some photos of the event here. Booooooooring...

The next race I had planned was actually this past weekend, the now annual tradition of a WesTech graduation beer mile. Shout-out to the AgBat on his victory in a cookin' 6:10 and to Nick "Saturday Night" Holowka for his competitive spirit bringing that time so low even if post-race crime scene analysis would show failure to complete at least one beer and a resultant DQ. Wish I could have run it boys, but you made it a lot of fun to watch.

The true beauty of it all was the reuniting of the Stable Boyz and subsequently many other old friends. Basking in the resplendent beauty of Western Mass tugged at the dichotomous heartstrings that draw me to cities and people even as I am pulled toward the simplistic wonder of the outdoors. It was probably instilled in my youth on family camping trips even if I was likely grumbling about bugs while it happened. I still grumble about the bugs, but it's worth it. Hobbling down highway 112 from the Vermont border down into Colrain Mass after an ill-advised run was probably the best I've felt about any running injury I've ever incurred. Just a little more time to soak in the beauty.

The sweet (actually it's bitter, but you know what I mean) taste of a McNeill's Duck's Breath on cask even at it's now jacked up $4 (this is Brattleboro, VT after all) with some BYOIndian is the kind of simplicity I feel gets lost all too frequently in the materialistic society we've grown to.

But yes, the people. I spent about forty-eight hours on the campus of my alma-mater for the first time in a year and it really did feel great. To walk by an enormous backyard BBQ and waltz in seamlessly, that atmosphere is a big part of why I ended up where I did. They've changed a lot of my favorite things, for the worse in my estimation, but when a dozen or more of your good friends congregate and you can kick it with some legit undergrads/recent grads, it brightens my soul in an indescribable way. I'm actually not satisfied with the quality of education and guidance I received at school, but the people I met there made the experience more than worth it and I would never dream of changing where I ended up attending school. I always found that it allowed me to embrace who I was, who I am, or even maybe just who I thought I wanted to be. Look for some of those words when I speak at commencement next year...

I don't really know where all this post is going, it just felt like some of these things needed to get down. Same reason I've been trying to take more pictures of late. On the near final leg of my travels, on a Metro North train bound for Grand Central Station I must pen what I deem amusing banter between three elderly folks seated behind me and John "Diddlemonster" Kraus. Nearing the end of our journey I thought to reach up to grab my bag but thought better of it as it rested above said eldlerly folks' seats. Now it could have been coincidence, but as soon as I turned around their conversation turned to beards when one man began, "You should grow a beard Tom."

This was followed by Tom's precious response: "I feel like a beard is for someone who's accomplished something, that you can't grow one until then. Look at all those guys in the Middle East that have beards... they're all assholes." There was a nice little hiss of emphasis on the esses that I'm not sure how to replicate written down. The jury is out on whether I've accomplished enough to have earned my beard or if I'm just an asshole from the Middle East. I just think it balances my eyebrows...and shaving is kind of a hassle.

Dear Wesleyan,
It's always worth it for the 3rd Floor Olin Bathroom and the Freeman shower...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Will People Ever Stop Shooting Each Other?

In what appears to be an isolated incident, a Wesleyan University student was shot and killed yesterday by an unknown gunman while she was working at the café at the campus bookstore. An article I just read and link at the end of the following paragraph says it may not be an isolated incident, but that remains unsubstantiated for now. This story was all over the news and gets extra special attention from me as it took place at my alma mater. I received several emails about the incident and the facebook status message of many of my old schoolmates was something referencing it as well. I hate the news report manner in which I opened this entry, but I can't think of how else to put it.

It is indeed a terrible thing, and you feel for this girl's family and friends. What else can you say to those most closely affected? You think about it, and you let those people know, but words...words fail. With the possibility that it was an angry and/or disturbed ex-boyfriend that perpetrated the crime (fostered by the caption in that Fox news link), I couldn't help but be reminded of a shooting that took place at a mall in my hometown less than two years ago now. I just read through my thoughts on that, and a lot of them hold true for this. There will always be outliers in the mental community who, when pushed, will take extreme actions such as this, but I really do think we need to take a step back and look at the culture that fosters incidents like this. When or if we'd be able to eliminate all such incidents it is hard to say, but we need to strive towards it. I wrote the words that follow before reading this update on the shooting. An italicized addendum follows.

I do wonder how much talking might help. As a generalization, many of us crave attention. Even if it is not the search for mass celebrity, we probably want the attention of those close to us. We like to feel like we count, like we amount to something, and the nature of that is context, the context of our peer group, our culture, our family, our friends. This is not to say all such incidents can be resolved through dialogue, but for all that the digital age has increased our ability to communicate, the nature of what we are communicating about seems to have dropped down several notches. Think of any argument you've ever been in. Rarely is an argument resolved quickly, and it often devolves into one party having the final word. It seems idiotic, but I know I've been there. Somewhere it is supposed to say that we are mature for knowing when to stop, but we want to say our piece. We hope that it sinks in with the other person. Being right would be an added bonus, but so much of it amounts to just letting it out.

Actions speak louder than words they say, and it's hard not to believe that. Sometimes the extreme actions taken by individuals, that is their voice, their last gasp that instead comes out as a shout. Some individuals are disturbed enough that nothing short of locking them away or medicating them might prevent their taking horrendous action but I like to believe more than we think can be done through a cultural revision. What that constitutes and where that starts, those are difficult questions. Being nice and listening to others have roots in good intentions, but that alone can start to give people the wrong idea. That can foster misinterpretation of the strength and importance of a relationship.

Reading that second article only makes this all the worse. The precise nature of the relationship between the suspect, Stephen Morgan, and the victim, Johanna Justin-Jinich, is not stated, but it seems as if there could be smatterings of what I just alluded to. Justin-Jinich had already filed harassment charges against Morgan two years ago. It's plausible she was friendly towards him to begin with (worked at a café, described in that article by a classmate as having "a great smile"), he got the wrong idea, and when perhaps she wasn't fueling his obsession, Morgan took things to a whole new level. But I don't really want to make any assumptions about this case. The mind is complex and for all that we connect on many things, every mind is different. Why I want to avoid assumptions has basis in this second article as well.

I took the "angry ex-boyfriend" angle from the caption of a Fox news article, and if I go with this NBC coverage I will be confirming a targeting of Jewish individuals. That might be the case, but if NBC can't substantiate their source, I think it should be left out rather than planting these strange seeds in our, or at least my, mind(s). I admit I am bothered as well that there is a history of harassment from this man and that wasn't an initial clue. Perhaps there had been no contact between suspect and victim between then and now. How much would talking to the suspect bring to light. Regardless of his true thought process, he can say whatever he wants. We can't crawl into his mind or anyone else's. Would we want to? I don't even know how to put a period on my own musings, so I close instead with some words from the Pixies, a question: Where is my mind?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sonic: No Longer Just a Hedgehog to Me

Six weeks or so ago, maybe more (oh how time flies) I finally made my inaugural trip to Sonic. I've been seeing ads for Sonic since the Summer of 2003, if not earlier, with their advertising especially heavy on ESPN. Watching late night broadcasts of Sportscenter, me and my friends couldn't help but get excited by the prospect of another entrant to the fast-food market. The only drawback was that, at that time, there wasn't a Sonic further north than Virginia, which wasn't doing us much good over in Jersey. In the last couple of years Sonic ads found their way on to network television and that's when it got to be too much. By this time, Sonic had made it's way to Jersey but well South, in a town that I believe is named Millville and where a film like Napoleon Dynamite could have been filmed.

People quickly forget that New Jersey is a lot more than the dirty turnpike factories of the north, the rundown cities of Camden, Newark and Trenton, the ritzy 'burbs of Bergen County, and the Jersey shore. It goes without saying there is plenty in between that and, along with middle-class suburbia and even farm country, there is what a lot of people would call the boonies. I'm saying Millville qualifies, no offense Millville. To be fair though, I really didn't make it through town as the sole destination was Sonic, and first impressions can be deceiving. The rest of Millville may be quaint and pretty for all I know...I actually stopped at this Sonic after a trip to Atlantic City, but it had nothing on the true experience of the maiden voyage that landed me in Bensalem, PA. Like parts of South Jersey, Pennsylvania is, in general, a whole other world from where I am in Jersey, despite reasonable geographic proximity. But that was a great thing here.

The service could hardly have been more pleasant and you are served by chicks on rollerskates or, if they're feeling frisky, rollerblades. I've been back to this same Sonic since and I have to say, all of their servers have personality and that goes a long way. I enjoyed my sandwiches, my tater tots, my sweet tea, my milkshakes, even something called a frito chili-cheese wrap, but the deal sealer is the service. It's just a happy environment and that's what I'm really looking for when I go out to eat. I can eat unhealthy almost anywhere, so please bring a smile. McDonald's used to say they loved to see me smile, but my servers there are always the most miserable people in the world (and I am not saying I blame them).

Plus, on my last trip, through some errors, I ended up with two free drinks and they even let me put my chicken sandwich on texas toast for no additional charge. Now if that doesn't make you have a super-Sonic day, I don't know what will. So go there for the "t's": texas toast, tots, tea...and stay for the service. Thanks Sonic, I'll be back.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Note to Cheaters: The Truth Tends to Come Out

No, I'm not talking about this Cheaters, but that was a pretty sweet show to watch about six years ago. The host in that link is a totally different guy than I remember, which isn't surprising since the original host, Tommy, got stabbed by an exposed cheater during one of the more outrageous episodes.

The cheating I'm referring to comes back to sport and, more specifically, the sport I follow the closest: track and field. To be honest, a lot of my focus in track is on high school performances because I feel like they have the greatest likelihood of being completely legitimate — that is, untainted by drugs. Drugs is rarely far from the forefront when discussing athletic performance these days and in endurance running it's no different. Today (or a couple of days ago to be completely accurate) that man is Rashid Ramzi. This isn't the first time I've talked about Ramzi being a potential drug cheat, but with this recent revelation my claims are a bit less unsubstantiated. Still, they will test his B sample of urine to see if that also tests positive for CERA, a supplement boosting erythropoietin levels and thus red blood cell production in the body. And if that comes up negative, I will still consider Ramzi a cheater, which might not be fair, but it's hard to ignore along with his accelerated progression in performance. The truth is in the urine.

As much as I want to single out the suspect 2008 Olympic 1500m champion, the ugly truth is that this is just everywhere. I would like, for once, to watch someone do something completely amazing in athletics and not have to be thinking, "I wonder if he's on drugs." Take two groups of four kids running 7:31 and 7:32 for the 4x800m relay, now that is amazing. Could some of those kids be on drugs? Sure, I mean Hell, allegedly A-Rod took steroids in High School and I certainly know kids at my own school that used, and some weren't necessarily athletes. But, and it's a big but, the chances are much more remote and I'll continue to view those performances with a bit of awe.

Switching to a more somber tone, there was a tragic development in my hometown as a high schooler dropped dead today at track practice. Given the time frame in that article I find it even more strange and unsettling as I was out on a run at the very same time this kid was. These things happen what seems like far too frequently so I'll just take a moment to pay my silent and [relatively] anonymous respects here.

I already do cherish every run and I suggest you do the same, but aside from that, as clichéd as it is, we really must try to remember to cherish every day, even if it's only just a little something here and there, like the amusing manner in which children move like miniature humans and sometimes speak with wisdom we feel is supposed to be reserved for those advanced in years. It's the little things people, it's the little things...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Proposed Beer [S]Ad Campaigns

Not too long ago I was heavily considering a career in advertising. "I spontaneously produce so many puns and idiotic word associations," I told myself, "Why not get paid to do it?" Forget my tale of disillusionment though, and let's just say I hate a lot of ads I see with a passion (take those new Snickers' ads for instance). The problem with hating is that, well, sometimes you have to respect what other people do. I mean life is all about timing. Being the first to do something, no matter how idiotic or terrible, it often gets you remembered. So you can say, "I could have come up with that," or "I could do better," but it mostly just amounts to empty threats. The thing about ads too is that, as much as we want to give ourselves self-congratulatory pats on the back for being clever, the idea of an ad is to garner attention to a product or cause, and so some compromise can often be necessary to appeal to mass audiences.

So I like to go halfway from empty threats about my advertisability and taking action and float ads through my head when the mood catches me. As I like to have a beer from time-to-time, I always like to come up with catchy little taglines (redundant perhaps as it goes without saying that a tagline should be catchy). So I present to you, five beer ad campaigns I've come up with that will never be realized (nor should they be).

Spaten: Remember that movie 300? Yeah, I only saw a little bit of it, but a lot of people love it. Whenever I see or order a Spaten beer, all I can think is, "This...is...Spaten!" Think those Capital One "What's in Your Wallet Commercials" only way better. Retarded? Probably. Guaranteed to sell more beer? Possibly.

Red Stripe: Hetero? Homo? Bi? Bi-curious? No matter your flavor, there should be a beer that unites us all because America is about diversity and unity. Now, this would call for Red Stripe to roll out some new packaging and rebranding, but I think it will be worth it for, "Rainbow Stripe: Hooooraaaayy Queer!"

Budweiser: The folks at Budweiser, now InBev have actually anticipated this move and have two ad campaigns waiting in the wings, both quite simple, and both immensely superior to current concepts of drinkability. The first is a punchy, "Budweiser: King for Queers," but leery about using that term due to its expected association with the new Rainbow Stripe brand, geniuses at ad giant Ogilvy & Mather have prepared the subtle amendment to "Budweiser: King for Queens."

Heineken: Ah yes, Heineken. Not that any of these are much of a stretch, but when a beer tastes like ass and is affectionately referred to as "Heinie", advantage must be taken. So here it is: "Heineken: A taste true to its nickname since 1873. Go on, grab a cold one. When's the last time you really tasted Heinie?"

Miller High Life: The goddamn "Champagne of Beers." If you thought the other efforts were poor, this one will disappoint even further, but I had to pay homage to one of the more influential beers in my life.


Your best legal option for living the high life.

Long overdue tales of Sonic and Chi-town coming soon...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Only Things Certain In Life

Right right, so I'd been meaning to discuss taxes ever since I did mine, oh, three or four weeks ago now. Now, I'm not sure why, but I decided that when I filed my taxes I should do them on paper, the old-fashioned way, rather than use any of that e-file, TurboTax, etc-type technology. I mean, I understand that software is developed to make life easier for those of us who don't have the need, the funds, or the inclination to use an accountant, but why do taxes need to be so complicated anyway? Just seems like another way of giving the average American the shaft, with loopholes that only the wealthiest tend to exploit. It's somewhat unrelated, but when I think of exploitation I think of this horrible case in Jersey a few years back. And, as I looked for it, I came upon this recent case in Florida. Sorry, tangents, my bad. So taxes, I mean, I like to think I'm a reasonably intelligent guy and if I'm reading through these pamphlets saying "what the fuck?" I think we've got problems. Throw in the fact that I have been a bit of an insomniac zombie of late, which may be slightly impeding my brain function a bit, and I spent a good four-to-six hours of what I remember doing my taxes.

I did make more trouble for myself by forgetting a small W-2 (or three...ha, no, just one) for my Jersey and federal filings. I also had to file New York state non-residency tax, and a self-employment tax form. For a guy who really doesn't make that much money in the grand scheme of things, it was a lot of work I tell you. And when that work is to tell you that you owe the feds a g-and-a-half and even owe your state a benjamin or two, the incentives are low. But I'm a firm believer that you have to look for the humor in things, and there are certainly some ludicrous or simply obscure things written on the tax forms and in the instruction booklets. And hell, I already checked my bank statements to see that NJ and the Feds cashed my checks already, so I'm good to go; who knows when New York will give me my refund, though. Checks always get cashed a lot quicker than they're written. Lucky us. Plus, I'm sure the feds hated having to read through my paper garbage, so they probably just said "fuck it" and cashed the check.

Now, one area where there is the potential for great fun is filling out the deductions portion of the self-employment form. You can do itemized deductions on your regular tax form as well, but it's got nothing on the self-employment form. I feel as if this is where a lot of people take great liberties, but I was feeling pretty uninventive, so I just did legitimate things like health insurance payments.

So right, the humor in the tax forms. I mean, look at it as a choose-your-own-adventure novel. Of course, it should probably fall under the category of Choose Your Own Adventure Novels That Never Quite Made It. As a prime example, I jotted down this gem from Line 42 of the federal 1040: if line 38 is over $119,975, or you provided housing to a Midwestern displaced individual, see page 36. Otherwise, multiple $3,500 by the total number of exemptions claimed on line 6d. Kudos to anyone who provided housing to a displaced Midwestern flood victim, you are a better person than I, for sadly I didn't even know there were any flood victims (let alone a flood) until I googled it after reading the tax form. I do like to think of people doing that deed solely with the prospect of an additional tax write-off for the upcoming year.

And that's more than enough on taxes. As for that only other thing certain in life, this is going to take a turn for the melancholy (even taxes are uplifting by comparison) with this list of Shocking and Tragic Sports Deaths. While trying to compare what is a worse loss or circumstance seems silly, that link goes right to Bison Dele's story, the details of which stood out to me for, well, being both shocking and tragic.

Since I'm all about the links today, I'm going to flip it back to an uplifting note with these Mathematical chart and graph representations of rap. Um, yes. And finally, for those who think Barack Obama is tight, don't sleep on Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga. Sure she's mayor of a Canadian city as opposed to Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful country in the world (are we?), but you gotta spread the love.

Happy penultimate tax day everyone and yes, I did just want to say penultimate.
Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.