Sunday, August 30, 2009

Texting (and other things we shouldn't do drunk)

AAAHHHH Technology, you manipulative creature you. So many of us caved to your offerings only to be led down an inglorious path of confusion, amnesia and apologies. On the one hand, we love our ability to press one button and have our target answer in only seconds. The Internet, Facebook, blackberries, itouch, utouch, we all touch, and then the ramifications. I speak of course of drunken messages. I believe Colonel Kurtz said it best "the horror, the horror."

Is there anything worse than waking on a weekend morning, the shaking hands, the cold sweat, the ringing in your ears and the pounding headache. You reach for your phone and see One Unread Text Message. You question yourself and you think "who the hell was texting ME?" or "Oh no, who did I text last night?" You try to calculate the amount of alcohol divided by the hours spent out and come up with some equation that even John Nash of A Beautiful Mind couldn't figure. You reluctantly press the buttons and see or hear I'M SLEEPING or PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE or the dreaded YOUR DRUNK, WE'LL TALK IN THE MORNING. Your mind races trying to figure out why you called this person at 2:45am. You tell yourself it was a weekend, they were probably out themselves. Then you try and remember if you were told they had something important to do and you woke them up. Then you wait, praying they don't call. Then they don't. Oh my goodness you think, what the hell did I say. Chances are it was some incoherent babble of you gushing out your emotions. To the receiver, it's a garbled mass of confusion and intoxication with a little dash of horniness.

I've been guilty of this crime in recent days. I have made this mistake via calls, via texts, via e-mails, and via Facebook messaging. I've done it sober too, which makes it all the more horrible. Friends have returned the favor in recent times and I realize the levels of annoyance this causes. Many times these messages can be catastrophic. I once wrote a three typed page e-mail to an old boss explaining to him why he was an asshole. I awoke with no way to unsend and no way to change my words. All of the e-mail was true, but that was besides the point. We then met at a restaurant for drinks and he had outlined his favorite parts. I cowered slightly at first, ashamed at my actions, but as the conversation grew, I backed my words with ferocity. The outcome was a raise and a promise not to e-mail anymore. A trade off I felt was more than a favorable in this duel. I learned a lesson that day about honesty and alcohol. They don't always mix.

Last night a good friend wanted to show me the shoe (She has two legs, but decided on sending a pic of one of the shoes) she had bought. They were quite a sexy shoe, enticing even to those not into podophilia. They were the kind of shoe that usually accompanies a pole, a g-string, and the blaring sound of Pour Some Sugar on Me. My friend was proud of her shoe, so she sent me a pix message. Apparently, in the confusion a number was inverted or some other mistake was made. The picture went out, but the receiver was not me. Minutes later, a message returned - slightly lewd and very interested. What are the chances in this crazy world we live in, that an inadvertent misdial could result in contact with a foot connoisseur. My panic stricken friend quickly called to confirm my receipt of her text, only to be saddened by the news that her fetish inducing heel had reached another destination. Laughter ensued, but the reality was, this pedicure loving person had her phone number and her shoe. This to her was more embarrassing than a mall Santa (kindly do not ask). She awoke to multiple calls from the strange aficionado of feet. She know lives in fear, afraid to step foot outside in anything with an open toe.

So how do we curb this desire for immediate contact when alcohol is clearly calling the shots? Do we leave our phones at home. Do our computers get unplugged? Should there be some sort of breathalyzer device that activates our technological devices? Just being careful isn't enough. How often has someone said "I only live two blocks away," only to find their car on their neighbors lawn? I think the biggest problem is the divided thought. You make your bold statement at 2:45 and then at 2:47 you forgot to mention something. This results in another call. This process repeats itself and usually ends up with you crying or saying something so outlandish that you seem crazy. A good friend will pick the phone up, speak with you for those few seconds and wait til tomorrow to let you know that you're indeed a jackass. The texting and e-mails are what kill us. They start with one incoherent thought and turn into some sort of thesis on love (or in many instances lust). The outpouring of emotion is in direct proportion to the over pouring of booze that has recently taken place. So maybe that is the answer. The next time you have gone to far and you've said, texted, or e-mailed someone a message at hours not known for wise decisions. The next time you receive that angry next morning call from the recipient. The next time this happens. Advise them to speak to the bartender who got you to that point. Have them explain why it was necessary for you to tell them at 4am that they have the most beautiful smile, the cutest laugh, or the nicest ass. Have them explain why this conversation had to take place at that hour and not the next morning. I'm sure, regardless of how taken back they are, their answer will be a hell of a lot better than yours.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Even More Random Thoughts

Why is it when a female says "age is just a number" it's sexy and mysterious, but when a guy says it, it's a felony?

I only think dogs are man's best friend if there's some Skippy involved.

How many people do you think died when crosswalks were invented?

They say misery loves company, but so does happiness. I know nothing gives me more joy than telling someone who thinks they have it good, I have it better.

I once got in trouble with a police officer, but he was a vice versa cop, so I arrested him.

Next time you have the right of way and the other person has a yield sign, think very quickly of how many people you know can give a clear definition of the word yield.

An older woman who likes younger men is called a cougar. An older man who likes a younger woman is called a dog. And two older people that like each other are called Alzheimer patients.

I hate cliches. The next time you're on a date and it's not going so well, if your date says "look at the time," stare at a clock until she gets up and leaves.

Someone described themselves to me as a sloppy perfectionist. This can only be useful if you're Jackson Pollack or giving oral sex.

For the longest time I thought All You Can Eat was a Jimmy Buffett album.

Have you ever hit someone in the face and their blood gets all over you? Thank goodness for Champs 4/$20 shirt sales.

I've never understood the term One Night Stand, because rarely is there any standing involved.

There's a dating website called plentyoffish.com, because of the phrase there are plenty of fish in the sea. I don't think people who captain oil tankers or fisherman should be able to frequent this site.

I used to think my cousin was cuckoo for cocoa puffs, but then I realized he's schizophrenic.

My neighbor gave his dog a bone. Who knew that is illegal in NY?

And to all the people who have commented on my negative Facebook status updates. I apologize. I can't always be the funny one. Why don't you try it. Instead of putting up pictures of your kids, your pets, and your swimming pools. I know where you live and I will pee in the pool!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yahoo Search Engine

Universal health care, Korea's nuclear weapons, Obama's attempts to right a sinking economy, a cure for cancer and many other diseases. These are all very important topics on every one's minds right now, so when I signed on to Yahoo this morning and checked out their "popular searches" section it made complete sense to see the top search was "Angela Lansbury." Angela Lansbury? WTF? Actually the letters WTF make more sense as a popular search than Angela Lansbury. While middle America is trying to figure out what happened to Jessica Fletcher, Kim Jong-il will be working on a little project called Mass Murder, He wrote. By the way, if you google him, and you start with Kim, he is not the first Kim to come up. That of course, is Kim Kardashian, who if it weren't for the fact she is dumb as rocks, has a sex tape and a ridiculous reality series would probably be my dream girl. If I was in the sex tape, well I'd get past the other two items.

So white trash, you've read up on Landsbury and you're still bored, so #2 is Hanson. Now listen, anyone that knows me knows I have a little crush on the cute Oklahoma trio and I play MMMBop almost nightly at Piper's Kilt, much to the chagrin of the customers and wait staff. That being said, listen to them live and they actually have a little talent. The teen group segways into search #3, School Lunches. Now obviously this is a serious topic, because lack of food, leads to hunger, which leads to distraction, which leads to lack of education, which leads to a life less worthy. So of course, there is a movement depicting a picture of a little black girl saying "Obama's kids" have this and that, why can't I. But it's pushing a message for a vegan alternative. Hey I'm no nutritionist, but being a vegan at age eight can not be healthy, unless of course you're drinking protein shakes for breakfast. It just doesn't make sense.

Michelle Wie takes the #4 spot. I still would like this lanky Hawaiian phenom to actually win something to warrant all this hype. That being said, despite being quite intimidated by taller women, I wouldn't mind being in close proximity to her legs. I'll leave it at that.

The Little League World Series takes the #5 spot in the search and I can't argue. It's one of the greatest events in sports. Of course, as the majors have the steroids scandal, the LLWS has always had problems keeping tabs on kids ages. The feel good story of the year a few years back was the rag-tag team from the Bronx led by Danny Almonte who came in third, only to have it revealed that Almonte was two years too old. Then it was found out that his parents, living here on visas didn't enroll him in school. He's now playing at a junior college in Oklahoma and doing quite well. I'm sure he's a fan of Hanson.

Miss Universe takes the sixth spot. I don't really know what to say about this, but I think it's a little pretentious to call anyone Miss Universe. One day, I'd love to see the party crashed by an alien who looks like Megan Fox, but has the intellect of Doris Kearns Goodwin. You know, they say that intelligent women enjoy sex more than dumb women. I'll get back to you when my testing is done. Of course when you've gotten through reading about goddesses from different countries, your next topic is of course, Brian Boitano. Are you serious? If it weren't for a silly South Park song who the hell would even know if this guy was alive? Listen, I can appreciate figure skating, because while a decent skater as a youngster, I had trouble stopping. This led to many a bruised knee. Something I'm sure would have affected Boitano more than I.

Martha's Vineyard takes the 8th spot, due to Obama's scheduled getaway. I find it funny that so many statistics are being thrown around about the cost and the length of time. We just got through with a president who averaged a staggering amount of vacation time (1/3 of his two terms was spent at either Camp David, his home in Texas, or his parents summer home in Kennebunkport - look it up). Unlike Bush, Obama has been known to actually "work" while on vacation. So enjoy the Vineyard Mr. President, but when you get back, I need to see a doctor, can we work something out?

The final two of course are important topics that touch everyone and are a matter of national security. Michael Vick and the Wyndham Championship (golf). OK Michael Vick fought dogs, killed a few and went to prison for two years. Case closed? If this was you or I, we would have been told we were terrible, made to do 100 hours of community service cleaning up in a Kennel and then given a $75 fine. This guy went to jail for two years. Was he wrong, yes! Did the punishment fir the crime? Absolutely not. Sorry, Fido, you're just not as important to me as the local bum who got run over by Donte Stallworth. Stallworth was drunk and high and got 30 days in jail, which he only did 25 of, because in Florida, that's the law. HE also lost a year of football. He'll get over it. The golf tournament comes a week after an Asian player beat Tiger Woods in the last major of the year. Tiger Woods is so powerful this almost didn't make the papers. How is this possible? Maybe it's because the world was too busy wondering if Angela Lansbury was still alive. I'm still not sure, I haven't seen her in anything since she made a guest appearance on Magnum P.I. Which reminds me, I have to go to Yahoo search and find out what the hell ever happened to Rick and T.C.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We're all fat and dumb

OK, I'm overweight, so I do not have to apologize for calling people fat and dumb. OK, dumb, I might have a problem with, but c'mon, most people you know aren't that bright. This isn't a blanket statement, this is a direct slap in the face of gas and fast food. About an hour ago, I ran out, put a little over five gallons of gas in my car and ordered the Triple Whopper Meal with medium fries and a medium soda. $25 total. I started thinking about how silly this was. Sure it was a nice easy meal and while I do not frequent fast food places often, I do like Burger King. Especially the Whoppers. Maybe it's because it has my name in it, who knows?

Well I finished my tasty high caloric meal and started looking at my e-mail and came across this week's supermarket circular. Then I started to think. I'm within three blocks of Stop & Shop and I could have walked there and back. Not far, but hey, a little exercise. More than the burn I get from pressing the brake pedal. So I tried to figure out what I could have got for that same amount of money and came up with this little list.

2 lbs of ground beef
Lb of tomatoes
Jar of pickles
a head of lettuce
hamburger rolls
12 cans of soda

So basically I could have made eight quarter lb hamburgers with lettuce, tomato and pickles on a roll with a can of soda and had four sodas left over. Then it dawned on me. If only, I had seven friends.

Maybe I should read my own blog next time I go out to grab a bite to eat!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I said too much!

In my life, I've said lots of things, both silly and meaningful. I've given good and bad advice. I've given my opinion when it's wanted, and more often when it wasn't. I've told people my political views, and explained why theirs is wrong. I've wrestled people's minds over religion and whatever the opposite is (reality?). I've had heart to hearts and I've probably bullshitted my way through some things. I've told people I loved them and told many more I hated them. Some I've told both.

This week, though I've known it to be true before, I realized that I have said too much. It appears that merely speaking my mind has cost me greatly. I did not say anything bad. I just said too many things, too mnay times. I didn't heed a warning, because my heart felt like it should open up. I said too much and now all might be lost. To lose something for opening up, for being honest, is a difficult thing. I don't know how to learn from this experience, because it is my nature to be open and honest. I just need to learn when I've said enough. I hope that maybe I can curb my enthusiasm, and in doing so, quiet my voice. But my heart told me otherwise and I followed it. I don't know how to feel. I can only hope this person, can find it within her heart, to remember the wonderful moments we shared, just weeks ago, and let me back into her life. I don't know if I can ask, because I've already said too much.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Five Things I've Recently Learned From Facebook

1. Despite most of my Facebook friends being Republicans, moaning and groaning about Obama and the economy (which makes about as much sense as blaming sickle cell anemia for Michael Jackson's death...take a minute to think about that one) it seems everyone on Facebook has gone on vacation for at least a week. I on the other hand have not. The people who haven't gone away are generally those horrible liberals who have backed this current administration. As I sit here feeling deathly ill, waiting for some sort of relief, I have heard nothing but town hall meetings describing the horrors of this "socialist" health care reform. If you're a civil servant or a teacher you have great health care provided for you at a fraction of the cost, so please keep your voices down, we're not taking anything away from you. My point is, the ones complaining are the haves and the ones who aren't are the have-nots. I'd say that the United States in a functioning irony, but the problem is that 90% of our country isn't smart enough to understand irony.

2. Insomnia is not going to be cured because of this website. I have found that when I can't sleep, there is always a silly quiz I can take or a game I can play. Maybe even a fellow insomniac that wants to chat about all things nocturnal. Maybe instead of chatting we should use Facebook as the dating website. Wouldn't it make sense that two insomniacs get together to watch the stars and possibly form some bond instead of spending lonesome hours developing carpal tunnel syndrome? And isn't it more interesting to answer 20 random questions over a glass of wine than sitting in your boxers staring at infomercials for the Slap/Chop?

3. People with kids have taken more pictures in the last week than I have in my life. I admit it, I'm not a camera guy. I have somewhat of a photographic memory, so paying for prints from Aunt Mable's 75th birthday party doesn't really excite me. By the way, I know facebook is an open forum for people to share with everyone their life stories, but I'm sure not everyone wants that picture of them drunk off their ass laying in their own vomit plastered all over for friends and family to see. Also, I've said it once and I'll say it again. I'm guilty of this too, but it was a Facebook joke...what is with white suburban douche bags throwing up the gang signs in every picture? When did this become commonplace at family picnics in Scarsdale or Long Island? Listen if someone says say cheese and you feel it necessary to throw up two finger or even your middle finger while pursing your lips. You need help. What ever happened to smiling? I'm seeing this in people's wedding photos. What the hell is wrong with our society when this is normal behavior for adults?

4. OK,some people are going to want to make me feel like Tina Turner after Ike's in a bad mood, but I'm gonna say it anyway. Listen, if you have enough time to post how hard parenting is multiple times a day, it's not that difficult. If you have a job that is so stressful that you can post about it every half hour, pssst, it's not that stressful. If you have a blackberry that chimes every time someone responds to your status update and you respond to them, you're not that pressed for time. Listen the only time I check my Facebook page at work, even when I'm not busy is when I eat lunch. I don't take 45 minutes or an hour for lunch, I take about 15 minutes, so if I check it once or twice during the day, I don't feel like it's a horrible thing, but I don't. On some occasions I accidentally leave myself signed on from home so everyone thinks that's all I do, but in general, facebook is a home-time vice. I don't see how anyone with enough time to comment all day long is run that ragged, sorry!

5. I really have started to re-evaluate my younger years. I've become friendly with people on facebook recently that I knew back in high school that for one reason or another we never connected. In the last few weeks, I've had some wonderful conversations with these people and it made me realize just how silly high school is. Everyone is so desperate to fit into some niche that they disregard all those who aren't in the group they aspire to be in. Facebook has allowed me to learn more about those I didn't want to be with. It's those people I find myself drawn towards. Maybe it's because I feel so many people I grew up with still live in the past, in those groups. They think that because they were the jock, or the cheerleader, or the brain in high school that they are still segregated by some mysterious power that only allows them to socialize with like people. it's sad, because there are so many people out there I wish I had known when. I think my adolescent years would have been richer for knowing them and maybe I would have taken a cue from them and ended up in a better place. It's not so say I don't value my friendships from the past, but I've found that so many haven't really moved on. I feel like Westchester is a wonderful place to live, but it sucks you in and confines you in so many ways. I'm guilty of not wanting to travel as much as I should, I'm guilty of being a regular in the local restaurants and bars, I'm not saying these are bad things, but with comfort comes conformity. I'd like to think I'm above that. Maybe I am. Maybe I'm not.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Asian Cinema

As many know, I am obsessed with movies. It seems I know so many who won't watch movies that aren't in color or, even worse, watch foreign movies. I refuse to watch foreign movies without subtitles. I find when a movie is dubbed, I spend more time watching the person's lips than paying attention to the rest of the movie. You'd be surprised how little, if any, you miss reading the subtitles.

In recent years I have watched tons of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean horror films. Nearly every American horror film that has been made in the last ten years is a remake of an Asian classic. The Ring, The Eye, and the Grudge were all poorer remakes of Asian cinema.

Sure there are classics from other countries. One thing foreign movies seem to all have in common is a slow climb to an incredible climax. Asian films just do it better. Not all are top notch. I wouldn't even say all are in my favorites, but they all possess something that left an imprint on me.

When I first saw The Killer, it appeared to be a buddy movie, along the lines of Lethal Weapon, except the buddies were on different sides of the law. The movie is excellent from start to finish, but the finale is one of action cinemas crowning achievements. John Woo, who has made quite a name for himself in the US, dazzles us with the operatic finale, complete with doves! For any action fan this is a must see. Other options are Woo's A Better Tomorrow, Hard Boiled or City on fire (the film many credit as being the inspiration for Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs).

For those of you who like the martial arts genre and loved the ballet type fight scenes in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may I suggest Hero. The use of color has never been used like this. The colors themselves become characters. Visually stunning, but a beautiful story. If the old school Saturday afternoon slap/chop movies are more your style, may I suggest Master of the Flying Guillotine. This movie might lack in other area, but has the coolest weapon of all-time.

I thought I had seen every cliche a horror movie could muster, until I saw Audition. Audition is a long, slow film that many might give up on within the first 30-40 minutes. Trust me when I tell you, that when the movie flips from being what appears to be a story about the search for love, into well, something else, you better get the hot water running. This movie will make you want to wash off the unclean feeling you'll acquire while squirming in your seat. The last 10-15 minutes is flat out difficult to watch, on many levels.

There are lesser known films that I adore, Like the thriller H. A Korean film about a detective who is after a serial killer. Only after the killer is caught does the movie really begin. Any more details would give it away.

While I have probably watched The Killer the most times (at least five). Probably my favorite Asian film is the Korean masterpiece Oldboy. It's the story of a man who for reasons unknown to him has been incarcerated in a hotel room for 15 years. During this time he is drugged, tortured and he doesn't know why. Suddenly he is set free and has a few days to find out who and why he was taken prisoner. What ensues for the next two hours is the most intense movie I've ever seen. It makes you question absolutely everything, even if you don't know why. There are scenes that make you claw at your chair and they don't seem to stop. The final scenes are so chilling that they make you ill and make you think at the same time. To me it's one of the most brilliant films ever made. It's not just a horror film, but you will feel scared. It's a thriller that never lets on until the end. The discomfort one feels while watching lingers long after the film is over. When I first watched it, I sat in the dark minutes after the credits rolled. I showered with water that hurt my skin and then I sat and watched it again. Rinse and Repeat. I think if anyone sees this film, it will open their eyes to not only how good foreign films can be, but how bad our local product is.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Observations in NYC

This past Saturday, I went down to NYC for my brother's bachelor party. It wasn't the typical party that took place in a strip club or a bar's private room. It was a small group, the groomsmen, getting together for drinks and some food. A quiet affair, but we chose to do it in NYC so we'd have more options. While there, I noticed a few things.

The first thing I noticed is the smell. As someone who lives in Westchester in a relatively nice area, I gotta say. NYC has an odor, almost like a locker room to it. It's unbearably muggy and between the exhaust from the ridiculous amounts of cars and the massive amounts of people. It just has a lingering stench about it.

Cost of a drinks. The first place I went to charged me $7.50 for a Corona and the second charged $8 for a Harp and $8 for a shot of Wild Turkey. I had been in the city for 20 minutes and I'd spent $30 for three drinks after tipping. That's usually two hours in Westchester. Maybe three if you're lucky. Other than food, I spent about $160 on drinks and I was stone cold sober. How the hell can this be? How does anyone afford to go out in NYC?

Times Square. If you blindfolded me and let me loose in Times Square and asked me where I was. Aside from signs being in English, I would swear I was in Tokyo. I would say, if I had to break down the demographics of the people I elbowed through trying to walk a block through digital camera land, I'd say 50% were Asian, 30% were Spanish, 10% were European, and 10% were White or Black. It's bizarre.

Clothing. Let's just say this about the average woman I saw down there. The hookers were wearing more clothes than the average 20-something. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying. I'm very glad I don't have a daughter, because if my daughter ever walked out of the house like that, I'd chop her legs off. Also, aren't we supposedly in a recession? I saw more diamonds, more platinum, more big-ass bling than I've ever seen before. How can people not be able to afford a shirt with sleeves, but they can afford diamond encrusted platinum nameplates with their nickname on it?

Food Carts have gotten very, maybe too sophisticated. I remember a time where there were only hot dog and pretzel vendors. Now there are carts with various ethnic cuisine and some things that make no sense. I mean so many of the items aren't conducive to walking and eating. Anything that comes with a fork and knife is not the easiest thing to eat in NYC. But these places were mobbed. I will say this, the price for what they are serving is better than most restaurants in Westchester and I'm guessing the food is almost as good.

Sexual orientation. Anyone who thinks that homosexuality isn't as natural as heterosexuality has never been to NYC. No lie, I've been to San Francisco, albeit as a youngster, and San Fran has nothing on NYC. I saw more men holding men's hands, and more women holding women's hands than I saw men and women holding hands. I also so more people I'm not even sure what they were holding hands. I think it's great, that we live in a world, at least in that bustling metropolis, were it is accepted. Hopefully one day the rest of the country will stop being so narrow minded.

My last observation was that I like NYC, but I'm glad I don't live there. Sure it's nice to have all these wonderful things at your fingertips. To be able to really feel the culture. Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I'm just lazy, but there's something I've grown to like about the slowed down version of New York that we call Westchester. It's nice to know it's there, and I'll make the trip many more times, but the hustle and bustle just ain't for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Dream

Under a mountainous comforter, we lay. Our limbs gently intertwined, like the roots of an ancient tree. The cool air chills my shoulders. I squeeze tighter. The heat from her body warms me. I am soothed by the sound of her breathing and her hands around me. The morning sun illuminates her face. I stare in awe at her radiance and the calm look on her face. I'm overcome with my own feeling of serenity. I smile, then lean forward to kiss her head. She is gone.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ten Random Things People Might Not Know About Me

1. I'm adopted. Was born in Hollywood, Florida. I know nothing about my biological parents other than the fact that, according to my father, their last name was McInerney and I am Irish and German. Which explains my love for sauerbraten and drinking.

2. I skipped third grade because I was really smart. I got left back in tenth, because I wasn't as smart as I thought. Apparently 43 days of school attendance isn't enough to pass. School was always weird for me. I failed 11th grade English thanks to my teacher hating me. I passed the class though when I got a 99% on the English regents. Guess that pissed her off because I had her again as a senior and she failed me again. Summer school as a senior. WOW!

3. As stated in my earlier post. I once kissed Jennifer Connolly at a party when we were 13. I'm almost positive she has not told as many people as I have. Yes she was hot back then too.

4. I have had two relationships that have lasted about 6-7 years. Both ladies are happily married. Neither to me; thus the happiness. I am friends with both of them and both have been very supportive in helping me with a tough time. I thank them both and hope that they know, while I never want them to need help, I am there for them.

5. In High School I loved sports and hated authority. In my stubbornness I played exactly two games of JV basketball. I got into a fight with a teammate, almost knocked an opposing player out on a pick, and told my Coach to put his head where the sun don't shine before quitting. Now while this may sound conceited, I could throw a football 55 yards with my right arm and 35 with my left. I could hit a baseball a mile and basketball was probably my best sport (people that know me now find it hard to believe I could touch rim in HS).. If I have one regret in life it's not playing sports. Especially growing up where I did.

6. I've worked with kids, either as a volunteer or as job for 20 years. I have coached basketball, coached little league, taught tennis and every other sport. I have worked as a camp counselor and athletic director for a camp and director of a small summer camp. I took one year off during this time and I was completely miserable. Something about working with kids makes the day so much brighter. I wish I had kept a journal of all the funny things I've heard over the years. So many times kids say stuff which puts our lives in perspective. The honesty and innocence that comes from them is something we all lost a long time ago. I'd like to think you can keep some of it by being with kids as much as possible.

7. I have probably seen more movies than anyone you know. I once sat down with Leonard Maltin's book and every once in a while I'd go through and mark off all the movies I'd seen. I got about halfway through the book and was up to 3000. I did this over ten years ago. In any given week, if there are no big sporting events, I'm good for 6-7 a week. I rarely go out of my way to watch movies again, unless they are on TV and I can't reach the remote. I've probably seen more foreign films in the last two years than most people have seen in their lives. Between sports and movies, I sometimes wonder what other people do with their spare time. That being said, I am not one to curl up with a good book. I regret that. Movies are my thing. I just wish there were more people to discuss them with.

8. I do not believe in organized religion. I do not have any problems with those that do, just don't preach to me. You aren't converting me. I realize that it helps people and faith is important to some, but it isn't to me. I don't like weddings, christenings, confirmations, bar/bat mitzvahs, Christmas/Hanukkah/Easter or Passover (aside from the meals) or wakes, which I believe I made apparent earlier this week. I just don't like all the hullabaloo. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. And unless it happens to be your name, don't expect me to say grace. I'm not bashing religion, it's just not my thing. I'm not a scientist, but the thought that everything that can't be explained is God's work troubles me. When we heard about David Koresh and Waco we immediately thought "Crazy". Well many years ago, somewhere in the middle east a whole bunch of people were listening to a man or two who was just as crazy. Think about it. If someone you knew said they were walking in the desert and someone spoke to them from above, you'd ask them if they were dehydrated. You wouldn't say "cool, write it down and we'll get half of humanity to believe it." Or Would you?

9. I'm opinionated. Oh this is a list of things you might not have known. OK. I'm a wuss. I cry during movies, I get teary eyed listening to friends stories about their kids, I get emotional when my team wins. I celebrated like a madman when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. The next morning I cried like a baby. I was so happy. Recently a friend's son had surgery and the night I found out I could not stop crying. I was overcome with this feeling of helplessness. It's something I don't ever want to feel again.

10. I am a horrible liar. I guess this a good thing, but even when telling white lies, I stutter and my eyes dart all over the place. I hate lying. My truthfulness has, in the past, gotten me in trouble. I would rather tell someone the truth and have them be mad at me than lie and have them love me. It's just the way I am.

Well there's some of the skinny on me. OK the only thing skinny about me. If anyone wonders anything else, just ask. Obviously, I'm not going to lie.

Me and John Hughes

Last night, as I arrived home from watching a baseball game, I flipped on my computer and saw these words: John Hughes, Dead, 59. It took a minute for it to register and then a wave of emotion poured over me. I was truly upset. For me, John Hughes was that surrogate parent who understood where I was in my life. His teen classics coincided with my teenage years and I felt like I had lost someone very near and dear to me. I was surprised at how much it affected me.

As I entered my 13th year in the summer of 1983, my hormones were racing and John Hughes had his first really big hit, Vacation. Everyone that has seen Vacation knows it's a funny movie, but for many boys, Christie Brinkley was that first crush (my apologies to Phoebe Cates). I guess it says something about growing older, that when I watch it now, while Brinkley is still dazzling, I have a larger spot in my heart for the buxom Beverly D'Angelo. Soon after, Hughes career took off from here with numerous movies about teen angst and in many ways he made my life easier. He obviously understood me more than my parents.

A year later, a little comedy about a bunch of dorky kids and one dreamboat guy came out called Sixteen Candles. For the most part, the characters all looked like you and I, the movie fixating on teenagers awkwardness and not Hollywood's glamorous ideals. This movie showed us that there is someone out there for everyone and often, who it is, might surprise you. This movie also did for girls what Phoebe and Christie did for boys, giving them the perfect guy, Jake Ryan. I won't wax poetic about him, because I devoted a previous blog and my sexuality has already been questioned by many. Girls, you know what I mean.

The Breakfast Club followed and showcased the talents of a group of young actors, all of whom went on to make many more films as adults. It basically took every high school stereotype and wrapped it into five characters. Everyone could relate to at least one and many of us saw ourselves in one of these wonderful character. In the end, the movie showed us that everyone shares the same struggles, trying to find who they are, while also trying to please their parents; an impossible task for a teenager.

Hughes then went to silly comedy with a sequel, European Vacation. A very silly move that was in no way as good or funny as the original. Weird Science was pretty dopey too, but it did feature Kelly Lebrock, who made everyone say "Christie who?" Pretty in Pink followed and for the life of me I can't remember this film, although I do remember Jon Cryer's ridiculous faux hawk. Which by the way, is making a return. That in itself is an enigma.

In what is probably Hughes' biggest hit, Ferris Bueller's Day Off came out in 1986 and had every kid singing Twist and Shout and saying "danke shoen." I've always thought this was an overrated movie, but the lovely Mia Sara co-starred, so I have a soft spot for it. Mia and I went to the same school in Brooklyn, although she was a few years older than me. Has anyone ever watched this and counted how many recognizable faces are in this movie? It's insane.

One of his most underrated films was Some Kind of Wonderful. Basically the story of a guy who gets advice from his best female friend on how to get the hot chick, but then ends up with his friend when he realizes the hot chick is superficial. A modern day telling of Cyrano, but suffers from taking itself too seriously. It's a bit of a stretch that he used Lea Thompson as the hot chick, because I thought the tomboyish Mary Stuart Masterson was much prettier anyway. Plus, this movie has Elias Koteas as Duncan the tough guy. Unintentional comedy, but it kinda works.

John Candy then entered the Hughes circle with the road trip Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, with co-star Steve Martin. It's the story of a guy trying to get back to his family for the holidays and a man who really doesn't have anything to get back to. The movie is laugh out loud funny, but very poignant at the same time, showing us that if you take time to look around, you realize that there are others less fortunate than you and sometime a kind gesture makes both feel better. Candy followed these up with The Great Outdoors and Uncle Buck. Uncle Buck was one of my brother's favorite movies growing up and is still one of mine.

Another Vacation sequel later and then Hughes introduced us to MacCauley Culkin. Many think Home Alone ruined his career, but at the time, the cute little kid, left at home, foiling a robbery was top notch humor. What's so great about Hughes was that he took the most preposterous plot and made it believable. I mean seriously, parents leaving their kid at home while on a long trip? The house is about to be robbed and the little boy becomes MacGyver and saves the day? Silly, but somehow this worked. Culkin became a huge star and unfortunately it spawned some awful sequels, somewhat killing off the original's mystique.

I was twenty-one when Career Opportunities came out. So the angst was gone. I remember renting this and seeing that Jennifer Connolly was in it. The little girl who was in Once Upon A Time In America was all grown up. Connolly and I also went to the same school. She was a grade below me and is the subject of my claim to fame. Well one of them. At a good friend's party, we started to play spin the bottle. I believe I was 12 or 13 and she was the same age (I skipped 3rd grade, thus being a grade ahead). Well I spun and the bottle pointed at her. Not sure if this kiss was a peck or deeper, but I do know that she has probably told this story many less times than I have. While the memory was a fond one it didn't quite match up to the vision of her riding the shopping market electric horse in this movie.

The next movie, sadly in my opinion, was his last good film. Dutch starred Married with Children's Ed O'Neill. I thought this was an excellent. A buddy movie with and guy and his girlfriend's kid. The movie manages to take a situation that could be classified as delicate and handle it with such care, that the humor and the seriousness mesh into something unexpected. People wanting Al Bundy will not be pleased, but in my opinion, it's a hidden gem.

Hughes went on to make some movies about a shaggy dog, some more Home Alone movies and some other flops. Maybe he had outgrown the teen genre and was trying to grow himself. Who knows? I do know that from the time I turned thirteen until twenty-one, there was nobody who quite understood me like John Hughes. I have watched many of these movies as an adult and I still love and appreciate them. Growing up is very hard to do. Hughes didn't drive me to school or help me with my homework, but he made movies that let me know that the thoughts, the questions, and the feelings I had were completely normal. For that, I thank him.

R.I.P.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wakes

Tonight was my recently, or was it long-time ex-girlfriend's grandmother's wake, I'm still not sure when exactly we decided we weren't going out. Now I'm sure she doesn't believe me, but in fact I did intend to go. A lack of sleep, a long day, and the weather played it's part in my hour long nap turning into a 3 1/2 hour nap. Ironically, that's more than I usually get at night. So it was much needed. I feel sorry, I didn't make it, because I think it reflects badly on me. I am caring and sensitive, but it will be seen in one way, because she knows, I don't do wakes.

Here's my feeling about wakes (and I hope that the person who recently lost someone does not take this in any way personally). Wakes are a gathering of people paying respect and admiration for someone they didn't find time to do in life. I know that sounds harsh, but I try and do things with people while they are alive, rather than turn up to watch them laid out, utter some kind words to the grieving family, and then ask this one or that which bar they are hitting afterwards. To me, wakes are somewhat phony. Unless you're Jewish, the wake usually takes place a few days after the person has died and the family is, in most cases over it. Not truly over it, but if there was a lingering illness and the death wasn't sudden, they have already grieved in private. To pull up those emotions again seems unfair.

People show up to wakes in all different fashions. Some wear their best suit, some a nice pair of pants and a shirt, and some show up straight from wherever they were coming, pop their head in and leave. I've always felt if I'm going to go, I should dress nicer than when I'm sitting at the beach, but that is just me. Honestly, the person in the casket doesn't care and when it boils down to it, the people who are standing or sitting there grieving don't seem to care either.

Wakes have always concerned me because of the look on the families faces as they stand to accept hollow condolences one after the other. The idea that standing for two to three hours, shaking hands with friends, family, and complete strangers brings some solace is ludicrous. It just prolongs the act of healing. These are usually ended with some tribute and words carried down by God and the assurance that this person is going to a better place. If they were suffering, it's highly likely this it true, but in reality, unless you're a Gardener, you don't fully understand where you are going. Maybe a tree, a flower, or maybe just the grass on top of you. Cremation. Well you're eternity is spent in an urn and trust me, you are not in the least bothered.

So why am I so callous and have these horrible feelings? I'm not. Death is a reality. Many times a sad reality. It's always painful when someone is taken from us too soon. I've gone through it and dealt with it. Do I believe that my loved ones are in a batter place. Well years of cancer, Alzheimer's and dementia would have me believe yes. Do I believe they dance on clouds listening to cherubs play harps while the Holy One throws them Frisbees and makes them milkshakes? No. I believe that death is as much a part of life as birth. I believe that death teaches us lessons about ourselves that make us grow more than life can ever teaches us. I just think wakes are a hoax. It's like a hallmark card from the Grim Reaper. To me it's senseless.

I know many will read this with complete disagreement, but I ask you to hesitate. When you step foot into your next wake, I want you to ask yourself. Did I do enough to say goodbye (even if death was not inevitable) while the person was alive? Did I ask that friend you are going out of respect for how things were going? Did I even know this person, or am I going through the motions in some robotic form, because society says when a friends family member dies we must go out of support.

I support my friends in life. I let them know I'm there for them in sickness and in health. They know this. When it's time to grieve, I let them know I'm there for them, if needed, then let them grieve on their own terms with their loved ones. It takes only one person to appreciate one's life once it has ended. You do not need a parade of well dressed zombies to show these emotions. The people that really care do not need directions from the local paper. They have always been there and always will.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Letter to July

Dear July,

You really kicked my emotional ass. You started off with the Fourth of July. A nice affair, sitting on a rooftop, drinking and eating well. Ending with some fireworks, whose fizzling out should have tipped me to what was ahead. You brought my birthday, which wasn't extraordinary, but the well wishes I received were quite nice and appreciated. Your mild weather cost me days at work. You made a friend betray me. You then turned on me and brought on a week like no other. The anniversary of my mother's passing, my good, if not best friend's child having surgery, and the demise of my relationship. You brought me closer to someone who has become a good friend, who has had quite the hectic month them self, but you then ended the month by taking the life of my ex's grandmother. Thankfully, she went peacefully.

As the month rolled on and on, I wondered what I had done wrong. I wondered how my birthday month could be so incredibly lousy. Was this some punishment for an indiscretion in May or June? I did not remember any great month this year. You seemed almost out to get me. I couldn't wait for you to leave. Now you have. I can look back.

I don't look back with any animosity. I reflect and realize it wasn't all that bad. You brought me together with friends on special dates and they shared time with me in good and bad situations. You ended a relationship, but possibly saved a friendship. You got me talking to a friend I had not spoken to in a while who I missed dearly. Especially on Mondays and Fridays. You brought my friend's son out of a dangerous predicament healthy. For that, I am forever indebted. You made me reflect, many times with tears in my eyes, on the wonderful life of my mother. You may even have made others lean over and kiss their moms and say thank you. You gave me a new good friend, who has been very supportive, even while dealing with her own chaotic existence. You took a life, but in the end, is it better to pass gracefully from this life or to suffer and bring sorrow to others.

Maybe you knew all along what you were doing, but some warning would have been nice. I guess in the end. Despite the tears, despite the anxiety, despite the headaches, I do have to thank you. You put my life in perspective and made me appreciate it more. Just do me a favor. Next time could you spread it out a little and give June and August some of the work. I can't take another month like you.