Monday, April 26, 2010

The Screenplay

For years now, I have wanted to write a screenplay. I think ever since I watched the movie Hurlyburly I've wanted to. There's something about dialogue that really gets me. The best movies, to me, are the ones that have sharp dialogue that not only makes it's point, but has you reciting the lines later in life. Now Hurlyburly wasn't a great movie, but the dialogue was so quick and razor sharp at times it was brilliant. I know it was written as a play and while I'm not sure who starred in that production,I do know Sean Penn nailed the main role in the movie.

Recently I've thought more and more about this endeavor. I've been without a computer at home for months now and in many ways I think it's my own safety net to keep me from pursuing this endeavor. I want to write something good, but I'm afraid it will be crap. Much like this blog, there are times when I'm typing away, smirking at my brilliance only to write some piece of shit that I wish I hadn't the following day. Other times I go back and I'm surprised by it.

I've toyed with different plots. A man who has always bought everything in life that he wants. Even people. And how this evolves into an obsession when he can't have something. Of course, I'd be writing this, so it would lean towards a dark conclusion. The story is in my head but it's all of four or five paragraphs. I've also thought of writing a bar scene. Something between Cheers and Barfly. Sordid characters, living somber lives and maybe here and there a shimmering light might come through the blinds of this bar. I fear that I would take from my own experiences and quite possibly offend those I care about or even worse be a sequel to Trees Lounge. There I go, with delusions of grandeur. Back to earth, Mr. Hopper. I've also thought and spoke as recently as yesterday of putting my experiences as a camp counselor into print. A modern day Meatballs. Although the tales would be more crass and at times, some may even think they are bordering on abuse. I've also thought to write of my life, had I stayed in Brooklyn past 1985. To be realistic this wouldn't have ended well.

I don't know what my final choice will be. I know I want to do it. I know a novel isn't my style. I need there to be multiple voices (and not just the ones in my head). I can't fill page after page with descriptive verse. It's not my style. I need someone to say something, I need reactions. I need stimulus. What I need is a vision. I'm waiting for mine to come so I can put it into words. Many words. Funny words. Mean words. Sarcasm and wit. I just need that push. Like Eddie said in Hurlyburly "I'm my own biggest distraction."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Rap Battle

I've recently been having an argument with a friend of mine regarding the validity of Jay-Z being listed as one of the top rappers of all-time. Most people wouldn't give this argument two seconds of thought, because it doesn't really matter. To me it does. This person believes that Biggie was the best and Jay is second. This boils my blood. To me, the thought of putting Jay-Z on a list higher than Tupac Shakur, Rakim, Dr. Dre, Chuck D and Nas is silly, but this is where the real argument comes. People that like Jay-Z hate Nas and vice versa. They had a very public beef years ago and they said some horrible things about each other. Here's my big issue. This is how rap used to be decided; in battles. Now usually these things were settled face to face, but many times they carried over into albums. My friend is entitled to his opinion, but in this war, Nas destroyed Jay-Z on his hit Ether. Fans called in and voted and by a fairly large margin even Jay-Z's fans admitted Nas won. Even people at Jay-Z's record company admitted it was brutal. Obviously, from a money making standpoint, Jay-Z survived.

There are two types of fans of rap music. There are those who like it because of what they hear on the radio and then there are the ones who like it because it defines their culture, it defines their situations and it defines the times we all live in. Being a suburbanite now, I realize it's hard to truly embrace real rap. Sure, it's fun to listen to stuff like Bust A Move, Funky Cold Medina and Big Pimpin', but that's not rap. These songs are known as much for the T&A that dances in their videos as they are for their beats and lyrics. Upon further investigation you realize that the lyrics are silly and the songs are pretty stupid. But when you listen to songs like On My Block by Scarface or Six Feet Deep by Geto Boys, you are hearing songs about the woes that face inner city kids. Most of the songs sung by guys like Jay-Z are what they think is going on. How does a guy who prances around parties with Beyonce know what the streets are like. He's become a celebrity. Tupac and Biggie, stayed close to their roots and it got them both shot. Possibly because of each other, but that's actually not likely. Jay-Z has lost touch with what hip-hop is about, but luckily for him, he has the money to convince the new fans that this is what it is all about.

When I was 13-15 living in Brooklyn, my counterpart was playing in the streets and parks of Eastchester. Kids who didn't grow up in a urban city, don't know what it's like to get their bikes stolen from under them or to have a knife or gun pulled on them. They don't know what it's like to get jumped in a subway station by five or six kids twice their size. I do. Hip-Hop isn't a style of music, it's a lifestyle. It's become a trendy word for anything that rappers do, but it was more than that when I was a kid. Graffiti artist were hip-hop icons back in the day. DJ's were too. The MC's were the kings though. Eminem is one of the greatest freestyle artists in the world, but if you watch enough of his older battles, you realize they are carefully structured and for the most part preplanned. This doesn't take away from one's abilities, but I remember a time when guy's like LL Cool J and Kool Mo Dee would literally go at it off the top of their heads. The game has definitely changed.

I'm not saying that everyone isn't entitled to their own opinions on music. Who am I to say someone is wrong for liking something? What bothers me is I don't think Jay-Z appreciates the people who have come before him. He thinks he's bigger than everyone and so do his fans. Last year he came out with Empire State of Mind w/Alicia Keys and it became a mega hit. Derek Jeter approaches the plate to the song and they performed it at the World Series. Worst part is, aside from Alicia Keys beautiful chorus, it's one of the dumbest songs ever written. The lyrics are absolutely ridiculous. What pisses me off about this song is that years ago Nas had a song called New York State of Mind that was gritty and really gave you a picture of the city. Even earlier Kool G Rap and DJ Polo had Streets of New York, which is a classic. It just seems that Jay-Z loves to paint a picture of him being this big thug, but his raps are all as heavy as a feather. He's a pop star, not a rapper.

Now I could go on and on about my knowledge of rap music and try to prove my point, but it's not going to change anyone's mind. Why should it? Everyone is entitled to like whatever they want. People laugh when I say it, but I think Lady Gaga is the next Madonna. I think she's going to be around for a long time. She's had two albums and has about 10 hits. Who else has done that? Madonna and Mariah Carey. That's about it. Even my friends beloved Beyonce hasn't been able to do it. Her last album was awful, with the exception of Sweet Dreams.

So how does one end this rap dilemma? I could say my knowledge is better because I went to school with Mike D of the Beastie Boys. I could talk about playing Basketball with Biz Markie. I could talk about hanging out Ecstasy and Jalil of Whodini in the Gowanus projects. It doesn't make me anymore knowledgeable about rap, it just makes me understand where it's coming from a little better. Sadly, today people think that rap is good if everyone else likes it. Rap has always been about telling a story that people could relate to. Painting a clear picture of an urban setting with all its warts. Somewhere along the line, people like Jay-Z forgot that inner city kids can't relate to spending their days on yachts and driving expensive cars. Unfortunately they can relate to a song with gunshots and stories of dying young.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

2010 MLB Predictions

OK, so everyone can throw darts at a board and come up with a winner in April. Every year for about the last 15 years, I have used a system, where I predict the final standings, the playoff and World Series winners and the Cy Young and MVP winners. In all the years I've used this system, only one season did I have less than six of the playoff teams correct. I've predicted the World Series winner a handful of times (although the last time I was correct was when the Sox won in 2004). I have picked at least one of the Cy Young award winners numerous times and the MVP has actually been on the money more than any other category (thanks to guys like Bonds and Pujols). This being said, I'm sure now that I'm making my picks public, the correct picks will be embarrassingly low.

Just to give you a little insight into my thought process. I rate every player at every position based on hitting alone. Fielding is very overrated at most positions. Pitching is much more important in the National League, because there is no DH. I also don't put much value on RP, because despite what most people might think, the difference between the best and worst closers isn't even close to the difference between the first and fifth best SS. Sorry Mariano fans. I also feel that over the course of the season, good hitting beats good pitching. This of course, changes in the playoffs. Especially when more moves are made depending on match-ups in the late innings.

So here it goes.

AL East: Yankees*, Boston (w), Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore
AL Central: Minnesota*, Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, Chicago
AL West: Seattle*, Los Angeles, Oakland, Texas
Boston and LA will battle for the wild card down to the last week, but Boston's pitching will come up big. The Yankees will be the only team in baseball to win more than 100 games (again!). Detroit has built a team that doesn't fit their park and will learn this by June. The biggest surprise, might be the fall of Tampa Bay, whose young pitching falters down the stretch. Trade rumors all season will also play a part and don't be surprised to see Carl Crawford on the Yankees before the end of the season.

NL East: Philadelphia*, Florida, Atlanta, NY Mets, Washington
NL Central: St. Louis*, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Houston
NL West: Los Angeles*, San Francisco (w), Colorado, San Diego, Arizona
The return of Barry Zito catapults SF into the playoffs. Los Angeles has too many offensive weapons not to be good this season. As long as Matt Kemp dating Rihanna doesn't affect his swing. St. Louis wins the notorious worst division in baseball. Philly wins this division running away and home field advantage through the playoffs, which will prove big in mid-October.

AL Playoffs: The Yankees can't play Boston, so they will play Minnesota.
Yankees, who have had their problems with Minnesota in the past, breeze by them 3-0
Seattle and Boston have some serious pitchers duels, but Seattle 1-2 punch prevails 3-2
Yanks benefit from King Felix pitching twice against Boston and win the series 4-2

NL Playoffs:
Philadelphia/SF features the dream match-up of Lincecum/Halladay - twice. Philly survives 3-2
Torre's Dodgers pitch around Pujols (the way every other team should) and win the series 3-1
Philly's pitching is too much for the cold bats of LA in chilly Philly. Philly wins 4-2.

World Series: I hate to say it, but the Yankees win this one with brute force. Halladay pitches second game on three days rest and the Yankees win 4-1.

AL MVP: Alex Rodriguez - no pressure on A-Rod turns into monster year
AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia - very close between CC and King Felix
NL MVP: Albert Pujols - as long as he's healthy, I'm picking him. Look out for Ryan Braun.
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum - he's Pedro, Gooden, Clemens. Pitchers you don't wanna miss.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking. - Clifton Fadiman

I don't know if what I have is insomnia. Some people look at me and say, "it must be sleep apnea." Some people say, "you're sleeping but it's not rested sleep." Some others say, they have it too. I don't know if I clinically have insomnia, because I never went to a sleep center. I was supposed to, but my insurance lapsed and I wasn't able to do it. I also had a problem when I spoke with the woman on the phone. I asked her what the procedure was and she explained in great detail that I was to arrive about 8pm, they would hook up things to my chest, my head, my face and possibly some other parts. I would be able to read and watch TV until 11pm and then I would have to try and go to sleep. They said, to get an accurate reading I would have to sleep five full hours. So I paused, chuckled and said to the woman, "If I could sleep five straight hours, I wouldn't have called you." I also pointed out that since I was about four-years-old I have not been able to sleep on my back. I said, this doesn't sound like something that is plausible. I put it off and never had it done. So I don't know what my diagnosis would have been.

Now I don't claim to not sleep at all. I do, but it's not like the sleep I used to get when I was a child. I would get into bed at 7pm and sleep until 7am. In my teen years, I could sleep fourteen hours straight easily. No, I used to sleep alot. Fire engines couldn't wake me up. Now, as some people might now from first hand accounts, that only happens after lots of vodka. My biggest problem now is the amount of hours and more so, the quality. Oddly enough, I love to nap. I get my best sleep, an hour, maybe even ninety minutes at a time. Once maybe twice a week, I'll enjoy such a nap. Close friends say it plays a part in my insomnia, but I disagree. I feel when someone is tired they should sleep. When they aren't, they should live.

For me a normal night's sleep is going to bed around 2am and waking at 7:30am. In between that time I probably get up to go to the bathroom once or twice, I reach over and take a few sips of water five or six times. I rarely go right back to sleep. Sometimes it takes 10-15 minutes, sometimes it takes hours. So I usually get about three to four hours. I've gone five days without getting more than three hours of sleep in a night. I'll usually crash that last day and nap for two hours, but then only get a few hours at night and the process repeats. So this blog entry sounds like I'm looking for some type of pity party. It's not, because I am rarely tired.

In the movie Fight Club, the narrator states "When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep... and you're never really awake." Sometimes I feel that way, because my imagination during my dreams seems all too odd, but my daydreams seem just as odd. The things that strike me while awake, are for all intent and purposes, not normal. I notice things most do not. Some think it's a charming quality, some think it's odd. Basically it's become me. Things like blogs and Facebook have given me a canvas to talk about these daydreams and nightmares. There are times when I am in a thought during the day and I hear the honk of a car. I slam on the brakes and realize that my mind was somewhere a million miles away. Not behind the wheel of a car. It's not often, but it can be scary.

Some people say my full-time alertness is a fantasy. They point out I yawn all the time. I do yawn all the time. It's almost like a reaction to everything. I yawn when I'm bored, I yawn when I'm frustrated, I yawn when I'm having fun. I am always yawning. I yawn morning, noon and night. I think I always have. I hate insomnia in some ways, because I feel it's probably affecting my health, but I love it in other ways, because it allows me time to explore. Sometimes that exploration can be hours spent looking up information about something I've been interested in on the Internet. Sometimes it's self exploration and thinking about the past, the present and the future. Many times, it allows me time to watch movies or read something most people would put off for a later date. When I have these things on my mind or a mental list of things I want to discover, I do them immediately. Sleep is not an option. Sure, there are things I could do, like clean my apartment, but those aren't the things I think about when I can't sleep. I think about what can be done, what can be learned or experienced. I have had some of my best conversations with people about a bevy of subjects in the wee hours of the morning. So insomnia isn't always bad.

I know that if things don't change and my sleep patterns don't become more normal, my health will suffer. I'll sleep when I get a chance, and I'll enjoy what is around me while I'm awake. Like so many have been quoted as saying before, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." Who knows, if that saying is true, I might outlive everyone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Being Sick, Being Male

Why is it that when my mother was dying of cancer, she rarely complained. When my grandmother broke her collarbone, she was only angry with her limitations, not with everything else. Why is it when my ex-girlfriend had gallstones, I barely even knew about it. Why is it when a woman gives birth, they forget the pain and talk about the joys? Why is it that I get a cough and I become totally incapacitated?

Let me first set the record straight. I can take an enormous amount of pain. I have been punched in the face, got hit by a car, I've been tackled by people who were much bigger than I (when I was younger). Never did I even wince. While at Manhattan College, I was playing a basketball game in a gym class and while running down the court after a basket I hit a dead spot on the floor, my knee buckled and what came next sounded like a gunshot. The guy running next to me literally dove on the ground like we were under fire. I grabbed my knee and told everyone I was OK. I got up and continued to play. This, you will soon find out was beyond imagination. Someone looked down about three minutes later and said "Dude, your knee looks like a melon." I looked down and my already large knee look as if there was a grapefruit attached. I sat down and then the real swelling started. The knee locked up and became about five times the size of the other one and quite squishy. The end result was a torn ACL. I never had surgery and about a year later, tore the other one. During this time, I continued to play sports, although my speed and mobility was greatly decreased. The pain was brutal, but I never let it stop me. So why, why can the common cold crush me like a grape?

When I have allergies, colds, or any other ailment in which daily living is hampered, I seem to recede into the darker regions of my bed. I will go hours, no drinks, no food, no sunlight, no sound, just me and my agony. Forget it if I have a fever and the shakes that come with it. I lay all day and night, wrapped in comforters, like Tutankhamen with Parkinson's. I am miserable. I don't want to be touched, because normal temperature hands feel like needles piercing my torrid skin. The taste of food has left me and the thought of another glass of some citrus drink nauseates me. The pain from this I find unbearable. But why? Is it really that bad?

Maybe it's because when I was a child I would get colds and know that I couldn't play. Maybe it's because I detest chicken soup. Maybe it's because I know the colds always seem to come on the weekends. Maybe it's because I don't have my mother there to lift my head, comfort me, and let me know I'll be better soon. I don't know why it is, but there's something about being a man and getting sick. For me, there is nothing worse.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Correlations: The True WTF

As I have already stated on Facebook, there seems to be a direct correlation to one's age and the number of people they find attractive. I find that as the years pass, I tend to like more types of women. Not just the buxom brunettes I've always been attracted to. I sometimes wish I knew this when I was younger, because I'm sure there was much more opportunity out there than I ever knew. People always say, "If I knew then, what I know now." Honestly, it couldn't be more true. I've worked with kids since I was about 19 years old. I still work with them and the difference is I'm older than their parents now. I'm sure when I was 19 and in shape, the opportunity (I'm not saying adultery is OK, but for the sake of this argument) was much more present than I ever realized. Now I see these mothers who are my age or younger and they are beautiful. I guess it's one of those things, you'll always wonder about. I know when I look back at my high school yearbook now, the girls I'd found attractive aren't the one's I do now. It's funny, because I think this works in reverse for women. Women get more selective because they are hoping for the right one, while men are looking for the right one now.

I also have noticed that the amount of alcohol it takes for me to feel a buzz has increased on yearly basis. Now most people say they drank the most when they were in their college years. I think it's a fallacy. I think a lot of college kids think they drink a lot, but basically it's the mixture of beer and some horrifying assortment of liqueurs that make them sick and stupid. A few weeks back I probably drank a case of beer in the course of the night. Had a handful of whiskeys, some vodkas, some Jagers, and even threw in a scotch for good measure. Felt absolutely fine. Got home around 3am and was at work, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning at 8am. In my early twenties, I'd be hugging a garbage can and crying for my mommy.

One correlation that really just hit me recently is an odd one. People who are constantly talking about our poor soldiers who are dying in the middle east are the same people who are for the war. The more conservative their views the more they preach about the horrors these young men and women are going through. This is one of those odd correlations, because it's almost 100% true, yet makes no sense whatsoever. Now I'm not saying they do not actually care about those brave kids, but a conservative military sympathizer is somewhat of an oxymoron. If you ask me, in most cases, you can leave off the oxy.

The amount of reality TV/reality game shows people watch and the inability to have an intelligent conversation seems to be in direct correlation. Let's be fair, I have many intelligent friends who fall victim to some of these shows. I don't consider travel and cooking shows reality TV, unless it's something like Top Chef (which I do actually like). I'm talking about shows like the Jersey Shore, Amazing Race, and mortifying ones like Tool Academy. People that watch these shows make fun of them, but they also seem to resemble the characters, both in their look and their speaking patterns. They take on these persona's of people that nobody really likes or wants to be like. Think back to two years ago around this time of year. The number of people you could count in a week who were orange was minimal. Now it's scary. Orange is not a natural human color, ever. Also, I love looking on the pictures on Lohud of the Westchester bar scene and counting the Snookies. It's like a creepy game that never ends. How did this happen? Listen, if I see a woman walk in a bar and she looks like Snookie, I might want to hit her. I love to people watch and listen and to hear these conversations you'd believe that reality TV is like a sieve for the skull. Your brain slowly drips out of your body, leaving nothing but some bits and pieces of sense and interest. It's a sad commentary, not only on our youth, but everyone.

Finally, the one that has baffled me the most. The whole really tall mediocre-to-ugly guy/really short hot girl correlation. Now of course, I can not comment on personalities in many instances, because these are couples viewed from afar. I remember I awoke early one Sunday morning last summer, the sun was shining, birds chirping and I wanted to truly seize the day. I went out and grabbed a bagel and an iced coffee. As I waited in line, one of the most beautiful young women I've ever seen in person walked in. She was about 5'1" and was wearing a nice little yellow sundress and flip flops and she was very tan. She looked like she may have been from Brazil. She was very exotic. She stood next to me and I found myself trying not to stare. All of the sudden, what turned out to be her boyfriend showed up. He was about 6'5". A big pasty white Irish lug. He was wearing ripped jean shorts, an orange t-shirt and a John Deere hat. After my body stopped convulsing, I tried to figure it out. Sure the obvious answer for every average height guy is "he's hung like a bear," but it couldn't of been that simple. The girl bought him breakfast and kept grabbing for his hand. I just couldn't understand it. He may very well have been the nicest guy in the world, but that isn't the point. I kept wondering to myself, "How did he get that shot?" How did this goddess, see this guy and say "yeah I'll give it a try." It just seems to me, every time I see a really short good-looking girl, she's with a goofy big dork. I will never understand it. Unless, maybe it is as simple as a really big dick!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Five Greatest Inventions: In My Life

Sure the wheel, the airplane, the computer are wonderful inventions, but they took years to make and took a vision that was way beyond compare. Cavemen made weapons out of bones and rocks, which was pretty cool when you think about it. Little kids always seem to make believe that simple twigs are Excalibur or a .357 magnum. Not sure if that's creative or scary at times, but it goes to show, vision has no boundaries. But what are the best inventions of the last forty years that help us on a day to day basis?

#5. ATM/Debit Cards: Remember when you needed cash at night and the bank was closed and you either had to borrow money from a friend or go home? That sucked. How else can I pay for that motel room at 4am with no credit card? Thankfully ATM's have made life easy for horny teenagers, hookers and johns. A beautiful thing.

#4. ESPN: Guys love tits. Guys love ass. But what guys really want in life is a 24-hour sports network. Your girlfriend has her monthly friend or is out with friends? Who cares, there is bull riding and pool on at 4am. Your a six-pack away from having a home bar. Hey before ESPN we had to talk to our families after the football games were over on Thanksgiving. Not anymore, the World's Strongest Man marathon is on. Yahtzee!

#3. Gift Cards: I don't know when this concept started, but you can just about buy a gift card for anything now. Your girl a reader, fuck it, you haven't read a book since 6th grade - gift card. She likes massages and you're too tired to rub her calf - gift card. She wants to go to a restaurant and you hate it - gift card. Tell her to bring a friend. It'll seem like you care that she also enjoys her "friend time." She says you're considerate and you get to go out with the guys. Sweet!

#2. Salma Hayek: OK, so technically she was "invented" before I was, but she didn't invent herself as an actress until after, so I'm giving myself some leeway. She's not the greatest actress, but she isn't bad. She isn't the most beautiful woman in the world, but she's pretty damn close. There just something about her that makes me go gaga. Is it the accent? Is it flowing hair. I don't know. I keep looking at this picture and I just can't figure out why the hell I would be so enamored by her. Can you? Titillating!

#1. Netflix: I am a movie maniac. There is no word such as buff or fan that explains my love of movies. I love every genre, every language, everything about them. Before Netflix, I was pretty limited to what was on cable or in the video store. Now my eyes have been opened to the power of film. I have expanded my horizons in ways I never thought possible. I have seen actors, actresses, directors, locales, I might never have seen without this wonderful invention. Here's the wonderful thing about Netflix and dating. You get three movies sent to your home. You pick one you know you're girlfriend will like, you pick one you think she might like and then you pick the one you really want to see. As time goes on she starts to trust your picks so you start angling the choices towards your preferences and away from the silly romantic comedies. Within a year you've got her watching some crazy movie with naked women and explosions. If not, you're single and watching some crazy movie with naked women and explosions. Who am I kidding? I laid in bed alone last night and watched a film about a Palestinian woman's fight with her Israeli neighbor over a Lemon Tree. Without Netflix, I'd be watching Nightmare on Elm Street VII. Awesome!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Five People You Meet In Hell

Everyone knows about that book by Mitch Albom about five people who you meet in Heaven. They seem like an odd bunch of characters, but then you realize they all played a part in the main characters development and each, I assume, has something to do with why he gets to heaven. I haven't read it because I perceived the title to have little I could relate with. While I don't believe in an after-life for various reason, such as intelligence, not believing in the make believe, and frankly, not believing in a higher power, unless of course you're talking about Manny Ramirez, I do believe it's a cool topic. So here it goes.

So who played a part in my downward spiral into Lucifer's molten abyss? Listen, I'd rather hang with a crazy horned fucker who tempted the first people the big guy created than to sit on a cloud with a bunch of people who spent their days praying and kneeling before statues and pedophiles. Did I say that? Doesn't matter, my name's in the book and that's the way it goes. Listen, rock stars, movie stars and rappers seem to be having quite a bit of fun and politicians, priests and all around good guys, seem pretty much pissed on these days. Yeah, I know, politicians don't deserve to be on the good side, but my republican friends are always quoting them, so they think they are. Let's get back to my list, shall we.

My parents would have to be my first inspiration. Taught me to think for myself, didn't place me in a preconceived vacuum of church or temple. They gave me a good education and provided me the opportunity to be surrounded with bright youngsters like myself and told me to decide for myself who I am and what I believe. They left the washing to my body, my clothes and dishes. They left my brain out of it. I came to the realization that anyone who looks at things objectively won't live their life following what other's have told them to believe, no matter how great the cloud, the enlightenment or the 70 virgins are. But hey, who could turn down 70 virgins? Not Roman Polanski, that's for sure. Now I'm not saying I'm gonna meet them there, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them for a bit.

I think the second group of people I'll see is the guys I hung out with when I was 13-15. A bunch of kids, mostly older than me. We hung out and while they smoked blunts, I drank 40oz bottles of Old English 800, Ballentine ale, and occasionally wine coolers (when the ladies were around). They were the ones that convinced me that a dorky white kid could change the way he dressed and be accepted by all the kids in the projects. I played ball, carried a radio, drank beers. It was a good time. It was a time when I was special. No other white kid had this pass. It was the early 80's and to a group of black and Spanish kids from the hood, I was, Larry Bird. Some of the happiest times of my life.

The next person is Joe Strummer. Despite getting into rap music for a long time during my teen years, I always loved The Clash. The whole idea of giving the middle finger to the establishment is very exciting when you're a kid. From songs like White Riot to Death or Glory to my favorite Straight to Hell, their songs always seemed so rebellious. They were the sound and the look of a different time in my life. Or maybe not. I'm still going against the grain. Joe Strummer passed away about over five years ago and I remember the sadness. If there is a place for people to go, I'll be looking for him.

If there's a heaven and hell, George Carlin is enjoying the sauna right about now. He's not my favorite comedian, but he projected so many of my feelings as a young adult. He basically told people to just put down their guard, stop believing everything your told or taught and to look around and see what is going on and most importantly, THINK! If you do this, you realize how fucked up we really are. Not just us, but everyone. He did a great sketch on the saying "God Bless America," It's absolutely brilliant. Those who can't let go of their religious beliefs for two minutes won't realize how brilliant this sketch is. Those who can; we can carpool down the fire and brimstone highway when I die.

The final person is actually two people. Bill O'Reilly & Glenn Beck. I hate a lot of people. A hell of a lot of people. None more than these two schmucks. I think we as humans are inherently bad people, because we have greed in our hearts. There is not one of us that doesn't want more than the next. Maybe it's money, maybe it's belongings, maybe it's spirituality. Maybe it's the simplest of all greed, where one believes their god is better than others and are willing to kill over it. Mr.'s O'Reilly and Beck have daily TV shows that tell us what is going on in the world and then tell us how to think about it. They have a nice little disclaimer saying their shows are opinion based, but they run on a news network. They repeat the network's name tons of time, which contains the word news and they use this very skillfully. Now I'll admit, they are much more fun to watch than their competitors on the various more liberal shows, but these two men are pure evil, for one reason only. They don't tell the truth. Anyone with an extra ten minutes of time and the Internet can go online and refute nearly everything they state as fact (not their opinions - they are entitled to those). It's absolutely incredible in this day and age that millions of viewers are willing to suck down whatever these two morons shove down their gullets. I'd like to think when I get to hell they will be waiting. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to kick both their scrawny little asses. I'd add Rush Limbaugh to this list, but rumor has it, he runs the place!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bristol Palin's Abstinence Ad

Hypocrisy is rampant in this country, but never more than in the new ad campaign being "performed" by wannabee actress and D-list celebrity Bristol Palin. For those of you who don't know, Bristol is the daughter of Alaska's resident imbecile Sarah Palin? You know the soccer mom, turned Governor, turned vice presidential nominee, turned butt of more jokes than a John Gosselin. Now I have nothing against anyone who gets pregnant by mistake. Mary got pregnant by mistake and we got Jesus, pretty good deal, huh? No, I mean I have nothing wrong with anyone who makes the teenage mistake of having unprotected sex and unfortunately gets pregnant. You know the ramifications and thankfully, you can get an abortion and your lesson is learned. From now on, have your partner wear a condom. Oh, you're Catholic? Never mind, add another member to the clan, you've earned it. Funny how sex out of wedlock is a sin, but if you should do that, having the baby isn't. Isn't that the definition of hypocrisy? Abortion is frowned upon for one reason and one reason less Christian!

OK, so the ad starts and there's some chatter about how if she wasn't famous and didn't have this wonderfully supportive family the mere act of having a child would be so unbearable she would be in great despair. The add shows her in a room with nice furniture, wearing a nice jacket, face caked in makeup holding her adorable baby, telling us of her cushy life, but then the camera pulls closer, her hair gets messier and then it pulls back to show her in jeans and a v-neck white tee, hair in a pony tail, no makeup with her baby on the floor with nothing but a couch and a crib in the room. She says that if she didn't have all these perks "it wouldn't be pretty." Then she says the tag line, "Pause....before you play."

Let me tell you, that is some powerful stuff. If you buy it. This is coming from a girl who wants to turn her mother's name to good use. She wants to act and in this commercial she is acting. Now I know she's not the first celebrity to do one of these things, but she is one of the few pregnant teens who are notable. Not that other famous people haven't been pregnant, but they were already stars, she's trying to become one. The biggest issue I have is the symbolism. Having a child is hard work for anyone. For any couple. The problem is having a kid doesn't make your hair messy, your furniture disappear or clothing to suddenly change. Family doesn't leave you like you're a wounded deer on the side of the road. They usually embrace you and struggle along with you. Friends look out for you more than they used to. The problem isn't that she is sending out this message, it's that she had the child. If you think that the only reason it's good that you kept your child is because of your situation, you've lost already. If your reasons for keeping a child are religious or even worse, because image counselors can't allow you to have an abortion or give the child up for adoption, then you have more issues than being a single mom.

I have many friends who have had children at young ages. They weren't married and some even knew, maybe not 100%, but many knew they were going to most likely be doing it alone. Families come together. People find inner strength, especially moms. The problem today is that we still treat sex like it's taboo to talk about, yet everything we see is littered with sexual references and images. Why can't schools give out condoms? Why can't schools give out birth control? Maybe our new health care will address this issue, but I doubt it. Wouldn't it be better to have a 15 year old girl, come out and say, I had unprotected sex and I should be pregnant due to my mistake. Luckily, I was given birth control at school or at home and thankfully I'm not. My father gave me a condom when I was 15 years old. He said "not sure when you'll be needing this, but be careful." I wasn't careful and I got lucky. Many times over. But I'd much rather see a girl, sitting with her family, telling how her supportive family talked to her, prepared her and warned her of the consequences and how while she did have sex, she was prepared, because she paused....before she played.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Accepting Change: Part 2

I started thinking about all those minor changes and it dawned on me that even some phrases or words have taken on new meanings for me. I don't mean the definitions have changed, just well, which definition is being used. I'm not even forty and things have changed so much lately. I guess since we're always evolving, or devolving, depending on how you look at it, things will keep changing. Here are a few of the things that have changed, at least for me.

Dunking - When I was younger, we'd rent a gym where we could adjust the basketball hoops to a certain height, so that all of us could dunk like the pros. It probably has quite a bit to do with my current knee problems. These days the tasks consists of some kind of dough being dipped into something with a more liquid consistency. I used to have a decent vertical, now I'm more concerned with my horizontal.

Crashing - this used to be what we did when we knew there was a good party going on, but we weren't invited. This would inevitably involve some sort of fisticuffs somewhere during the evening, but usually provided us with a good night. Now it's the act of coming home, closing the door and being asleep within minutes, usually the result of something far less stimulating than it's predecessor.

All-in - this used to be what our gang did by the pool when we snuck into Lake Isle. Now it's a card game term which usually results in your chips being taken and you slumped over, not quite believing that someone called with A-4 and beat your kings.

Quickie - this used to be a nice little 15-20 minute sexual romp usually before going out or maybe even while out. Sometimes it even took place in the middle of the day. Nowadays, it has taken on a more literal definition and is the reason why guys my age take Viagra.

Fresh - was the hip-hop slang term for something that was pretty cool or some brand new clothes. Now it's what we hope to get while lumbering around the produce section of the supermarket.

Hot - what we would call a girl we thought was pretty or had a nice body. Now it's how I feel whenever the temperature rises above 65 degrees.

Weed - now while this doesn't really apply to me, I'm sure many of my friends feel that this used to be something they smoked on the weekends to make themselves feel better. Now it's something they pull out of the ground to make their house look better.

Make-up - what girls would put on back in the day to make themselves look sexier. Now it's what we do so we don't have to hear the nagging.

Spare tire - this used to be the thing you wish you had in your car when you hit the curb in a drunken stupor. Now it's something you wish you could get rid of.

CD - the little metal disc you listen to music off of. Now it's a certificate of deposit.

Happy Hour - this used to be 6am. Now it's 6pm.

And Finally

Forty - the number of ounces in the bottle you were drinking. Now it's my next birthday!

See, the more things change. The more they suck.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Accepting Change

In the course of our lives many things change. Our bodies, our hairstyles, our likes and dislikes. Sometimes we change for the sake of change and many times out of necessity. I mean I can't spend $2000 a night on hookers on my salary, so you have to scale it back. Some changes are monumental in our lives, some are less noticeable. This brief blog is going to be about those little things in life that are basically unimportant but for some reason are difficult to adjust to.

Does anyone remember when Cool Ranch Doritos changed the color of the bag from light blue to dark blue? I remember being so utterly confused that I actually put them back, even though I read the label again and again and it confirmed they were cool ranch flavored. Since that change, I have probably bought them one tenth the number of time. They just aren't the same.

Now this will only apply to Eastchester residents, but one place in town had become the urban legend of landmarks. When it disappeared, it took part of the heart from this town with it. Of course I'm talking about Americana Wigs. Rumor flew that it was a front for some big drug dealers or it was a brothel. I never did find out what the deal with the place was, but I drove by it so many times, when it was gone, a little part of me died.

Probably the most troublesome of all changes, for me at least, is the fact that the Scarsdale Plaza not only closed, but is no longer. There isn't even anything there to pay homage to it's existence. This I find sad, not only because I worked there, but because it was such a wonderful old-style movie theater. More housing and some crappy little park is there now. Ninety-nine cent movies are a thing of the past.

The other day I was in no mood to cook or talk to anyone and went and actually sat by myself in Burger King. I ordered the Whopper meal and the person behind the counter asked what size and I ordered medium. I sat down and stared at the tray in front of me. About twenty little french fries poured out on the paper cloth. A soda that was probably about 24 ounces (which constitutes as medium in today's society. That was all fine and good, but the burger disturbed me. It was wrapped in paper. I started thinking about when I was younger and they came in the Styrofoam box. Then later in a thin cardboard box. Now it's paper. Back then it was like opening a gift. It was the childhood equivalent of getting a piece of jewelry I would think. Now it's paper. This really bothered me that night. It still does.

Maybe this next one is because I've entered the dirty old man phase of my life. Or maybe it's because I've become more introspective and notice things I like that maybe I didn't like before. Or as like this blog states, things that I've noticed changing. Teacher's clothing has changed over the years. I remember when I was younger if a woman dressed a certain way, people would murmur, "oh look how she's dressed? She must be a teacher." Usually the style was some sort of frumpy sweater and a long skirt that didn't quite match. Seemed like male teacher's all went with the tweed jacket and then later, the denim shirt. These days it's quite different. I see younger women wearing tight pants and knee high boots. Sometimes even somewhat revealing clothing for the younger teachers in college. I remember I had a philosophy teacher who used to wear nothing but sundresses. A few times the sun was glaring in and the class became all too aware that she wore sundresses...and nothing else. Normally this would be a great tale to tell, but not this time. I prayed for cloudy days when I had her class. I think we all did.

I have an easier time accepting change these days than during my younger years, because I realize the reasons for it. Sometimes the changes are good, sometimes they aren't. They say change for the sake of change isn't normally successful, but who am I to judge. Some people might like darker Doritos bags, some may like the new business on the corner of Mill & Fisher, some people have a home where a movie theater once was and Burger King is helping the environment, while some of the teachers are downright sexy. Other than the latter, change ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Happened to Easter?

Has anyone ever stopped to think about Easter? It's the holiest of the Christian holidays, yet most Catholics I know think Christmas is. It's a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and has become Hallmarked as a holiday about bunnies and chocolate eggs. How does a religion allow it's most important day to be mocked like this?

Now I'm not trying to ruin anyones holiday, because I truly love Easter. For me it's always been a special time of happiness. It seems more times than not, we have a day much like today. The sun is shining, birds are chirping and much like it's intended meaning, it feels as though spring is reborn. I do however have a little issue about a holiday based around a man being resurrected. It's a little creepy, regardless of whether or not you believe it's the son of God. Religion has always been somewhat about allowing oneself to believe what can never be proven, but the whole resurrection thing to me, is a little much to swallow. I'm all for the lamb dinner and family get togethers, but coming back from the dead. I'll leave that up to George Romero.

Somewhere along the line, there were some serious liberties taken with this holiday. First off, Lent isn't mentioned in the bible, neither is not eating meat on Friday. Moses fasted while at Mount Sinai and Jesus fasted and did say that his followers should fast when he was taken from them. So if taken literally from the bible, Christians should fast from about 3pm on Good Friday til sundown on Easter Sunday (when Jesus was resurrected). That's about it from what I remember reading. Different customs arose over the years and now observances have only a glimmer of what was actually stated in the Bible. Even stranger than the religious aspect is the inclusion of the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs. Now this could be a sign of birth (or rebirth) since rabbits and eggs are signs of fertility and the giving of life, but it's a bit of a stretch to make them symbols for your most important holiday. More likely, it's just something to make kids happy, so they won't mind sitting through some tedious mass. Even more atrocious was the advent of plastic eggs. Usually these were filled with money. Now we're bribing our children to get into the high holy days. Hey, and Jewish kids have to find the hidden matzoh on Passover, so they are guilty too. It's all just become so commercial I wonder if even priests and rabbis understand it anymore.

Here's how I feel about all holidays, especially those deemed high holy days. If you feel the need to go with the crowd and throw on your Sunday-going-to-meeting clothes and sit and listen to someone tell you how to think and pray, go for it. If you want to sit and reflect on your own, so be it. If you want to sit around with friends and family and share in a delicious meal, some fine beverages and decadent desserts, I'm with you. If you decide, like I am today, to do nothing but have memories of eating my mother's delicious leg of lamb, roasted garlic and buttery potatoes and my father's fine wine selections, while talking with good friends and family, well that's OK too. These days are all about doing what feels right. If that is with a group or by yourself, it doesn't matter. I'd like to think that Jesus was the kind of guy who marched to a different beat, so I'm fine with doing what feels right.

Today, I'm going to pet our rabbit, but skip the chocolate eggs. I think I'm going to tip a glass to everyone I know today. Hoping that this spring brings health and happiness and a renewed hope. I'm going to reflect on the gloom of winter and envision the shine of spring. So regardless of your religious beliefs or disbelief's, I am wishing everyone a very happy Easter.