Friday, September 29, 2006

I (can't) Believe the children are our future.

I had occasion to spend a few hours with the future of our country the other night. I was in a room with 20 college students, basically doing nothing. They thought I was there to make sure they were getting their work done, but I was really just there because my boss told me to go, and it seamed like a good time to read a few chapters of my book.

As 18 to 22 year olds are so want to do, they took a lot of breaks. They would swing their chairs around to face one another and start to gab. Seeing this, I would put my book down and walk into the room to break them up. It was kind of like the umpire taking a walk out to the mound to break up a talk between the pitcher and catcher.

One conversation was worth just sitting back and listening to, however. One young girl was talking about how bad her sorority's pledge class was expected to be. The other girl, lets call her Dumb Ass (not her real name), said that was nothing. Her boyfriend's frat only had two pledges and one of them was Blue (not his real name, or pledge name that I am aware of). She went on to say that she didn't think Blue would get into her boyfriend's frat because... well you know. I didn't know, and neither did the other girl apparently, because she just shrugged her shoulders. Dumb Ass pressed further by dragging out the word "you" with her response: "Yoooooou Know!" After a short Abbot and Costello like routine in which she danced around the subject she just came right out and said it:

Dumb Ass: "He's a Milano"
Other Girl: "A what?"
Me (to myself): Yeah, a what?
Dumb Ass: "You know, half black half white."
Other Girl: "Oh, yeah."
Me (to myself): Christ help us, if these dim wits are going to be running the country one day.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What to do on Friday night.

I know what you're thinking: What is there to do just past midnight on Friday. Well I have the answer for you. Australian Rules Football. Sure our country is flooded with coverage of countless sports, but that doesn't mean you cant check out a new one every once and a while. Aussie rules is one of the most amazing games I have ever seen, and the fact is, it is very fun to watch. The players on the field kick and hand pass to one another with the ultimate goal of collecting 6 points by getting the ball between the two large goal posts at either end of the ground. Along the way there are amazing kicks, marks (think a Tight End in Football trying to catch a pass while getting mugged) and tons of physical play.

This weekend is the big one in the AFL. The Sydney Swans will try to defend their title as they take on the West Coast Eagles for the 4th time in the last two playoffs. How is that possible you ask? Well it's simple; the Aussie rules playoffs allow for a team to lose and still advance, kind of like a double elimination. Eight teams make the finals (playoffs) and the reward for being in the top 4 is a "double chance" or second shot to make the Grand Final. The pairings go: 1 v 4, 2 v 3 with the winner of these games getting a bye and the loser hosting the double chance game the next week. In the bottom part of the bracket it is 5 v 8 and 6 v 7. The loser of these games goes home and the winner plays the losers from the top part of the bracket. Confused? Just wait. (or click on the graph to the right)

In 2005 the West Coast Eagles vanquished the Sydney side in the first round by 4 points only to face them again in the Grand Final. Sydney took that game, again by 4 points to claim their first title in four generations. And so it went this year when Sydney toppled the #1 Eagles by 1 point in the first round, only to see them again this weekend for a rematch of last year's big game. This game has tons of subplots but more then that it has heart, passion and grit. Just the things I love about sport. And so I will be right here at half past midnight on Friday night to listen to the radio feed of the game via the Internet. I don't really care who wins, but I would love to hear a one point game decided by a big kick at the horn.


Monday, September 25, 2006

On the Road Again

This past weekend I hit the road with XL for a mini road trip. Over the years XL and I have gone all over the place on our trips; from St. Louis to Florida, and The Baseball hall of fame to the Football Hall. There was a time when we could take 4 or 5 days and do a long trip, but as we get older our trips seem to get shorter. And so it was that we both realized we had a two days free this weekend, so why not hit the road.

He arrived at my house on Saturday at 10:00 and we headed north to Pottsville PA and the D.G. Yuengling brewery. The tour there if free, and actually quite interesting. After spending some time and money in the gift shop we walked with our tour guide and the twenty or so others through the 175 year old beer birthplace. Yuengling sells itself as the nations oldest brew house, and walking through its hand tunneled underground caves, you believe it. The guide gives you the history of the family owned company, and the basics of how their beer is made. For those of you who have never tilted a Yuengling Lager, you are truly missing out on a great American beer. At the end of the tour XL and I downed our two free samples and headed south to another of Eastern Pennsylvania's treasures.

This next stop was all about eating rather then drinking. We queued Billy Joel's "Allentown" up and let 'er rip just as we crossed the city line into that city. The lyrics seemed rather apropos to the situation of modern Allentown. Billy said "the restlessness was handed down, and it's getting very hard to stay" and I think a lot of people didn't. They should have, however, if for no other reason then for Yocco's Hotdogs. What is a Yocco's you ask; well apparently the name came from the founder's last name Iacocca, as in Lee who is related to the founder. They couldn't say it right and so Yocco's was born. Their hotdogs are fucking brilliant, so you can call them whatever you want. They put chopped onion and mustard on the bun and then put the well grilled dog in chili before putting it in the bun. XL and I went to the original shop in downtown Allentown for the first part of our Yocco's experience only to find they don't have a fryer. That meant no pierogies, which was unacceptable, so we ate three dogs each there and washed them down with a cherry coke and hit the road again. This time we made our way to the location off rt 78 on PA 100. There we each had another dog and a half and a large order of pierogies. Filled to the brim we headed south again.

Our last stop on Saturday was Franklin field in Philly. A friend of ours calls the games for the University of Pennsylvania football team and we went to see their game against Villinova. It was a perfect night for a football game, and it turned out to be a very entertaining game. There was a ton of scoring in the first half and none in the second, but big plays and tense moments throughout and UPenn had a chance to tie the game at 27 from the 7 yardline with :06 to go. In the end the pass was high, but its ok cause with an Ivy league education those kids will be the ones laughing in a few years. (I'm not putting Nova down but they are no Penn.)

After crashing at my Inky in law's house for the night XL and I woke up and headed home, the long way. See we had to go all the way up to rt 78 so we could stop off for breakfast at Yocco's. Three dogs and two large orders of pierogies later we were off to another friends house for a football double header. More good times awaited us as we watched The Redskins (my team) and The Ravens (XL's team) win and we ate pizza, wings and chips. Our bypass surgery is set for next Monday.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Greazy's Workspace

Today I finished my 5th week at my new job and so far so good. I’ve actually gotten out on the road and done some of the work I was hired to do, meeting people face to face. I like being in my car, with my briefcase on the seat next to me filled with files and print outs from mapquest. I can listen to the radio, a CD or even an audio book as I go from place to place. It also has the feel of not being work at all when I am out and about. Don’t get me wrong, it is work, and it has stresses just like any job, but it’s nice to have a change of scenery from time to time.

Not that there’s anything wrong with my office mind you, because I really like it. See, I’ve spent the last 8 years since I graduated from college in cubicles or worse. Once for about 4 months I had a job at a TV station on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with a quasi office. It was two real walls in a corner with two cubicle walls set up to make a rectangle with one wall a bit shorter to make a "door." But, I didn’t spend any time at all in that office because I was busy totally ignoring my job responsibilities and doing no work at all. Now you see why I was only there for 4 months, what can I say; I was 23 and didn’t really give a fuck.

I have finally reached a point in my career where I have an office with 4 real walls and a door that locks and closes. I have arrived America! I know this sounds stupid, but let’s face it, shows like The Office and movies like Office Space are funny for a reason. We’ve all been there. We all have seen the boss who comes over and puts his or her arm on the top of your cubicle wall right before they ask you to do something they themselves would never do. We all have been next to the annoying guy or girl who plays their music too loud, farts, or eavesdrops on your phone calls. That’s why it’s nice for me to be in my own little space, with little touches of greazy all over it. When I am in there and not on the road, I feel a lot more comfortable then I ever did in any of my cubicles.

If you take a look at the picture above you can see my abode. Right behind where I took that shot is my Diploma, marking the first time I had a job where I felt it necessary to hang it. The photos above my computer monitor are shots Inky took on our trip to Australia. The one on the left is of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera house. On the right is Inky’s art photo of a building with in a building in Melbourne. To the right of my phone is a photo from our wedding, seven years ago. And next to that is one of my favorite photos ever, one that has been on my desk for the last four years. It is a photo of my Pop hard at work at his desk in the Big Apple. On the pin up board is a photo of Inky and I scuba diving in Cairns. To the right of that is my red stapler (I could set the building on fire). Behind my briefcase is a Christmas card sent to my Grandfather by JFK, it is from 1962, the last Christmas Kennedy saw.

That’ll do it for this edition of TGWOOfY Cribs, now get out.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

From little things, big things grow.

I was watching the Daily Show last night and I was struck by something President Clinton said. He was talking about how the American people raised 1.3 Billion dollars for the Tsunami relief, and how if we were so inclined we could get together to change the world in other ways. The example he gave was one that I am quite fond of: ridding our country of its dependence on foreign oil. I’ve always been of the mind that the best way to stop tur (Bush speak for terror) is to cut off their money. If we drove cars that ran on something other then million year old dinosaur bones maybe the tourists (Bush speak for terrorists) wouldn’t have the dough needed to attack us.

I was in a meeting at work yesterday where this idea came into sharper relief for me. The director of my Alma mater’s entrepreneurship center was talking about all these million dollar prizes companies set up to encourage entrepreneurs to solve the big company’s problems. Things like a lunar lander that can be reused, or a car that can be run on something other then gas. If you solve these problems the prize is millions of dollars, and they need us to do it: the little people. Because the big companies and multi level organizations are all too cumbersome to be effective. Just like the Government. We need to start doing things on our level if we ever want things to get done.

We went to see Jon Stewart perform in stand up at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday night, and I thought Jon made a very salient point on this topic. He said that it is the 20% of people in this world with too much time on their hands that are ruining us. The other 80% of us are busy with shit to do and can’t go to marches, demonstrations or Terri Schiavo’s bed side to make our fucked up beliefs known. But, we have to make time. We have to reassert the control of the moderates to keep this world from being torn apart by the minority factions on either side of us.

But, Greazy, I’m just one person. I can’t make a difference.

Bullshit. President Clinton was right when he talked about the solution, just as Vincent Lingiarri was about his solution. Vincent was the leader of a group of Aboriginal people who got fed up over the way they were treated by their boss, Lord Vestey, and the nation of Australia. So Vincent and his people walked off the Cattle Station they worked at and demanded that things change. It took 8 years, but eventually the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, gave them their rightful land. One small group of people stood up to the powers that be, and through perseverance the got what they deserved. By the way, if you ever want to hear this story in song check out "From little things, Big things grow" by Paul Kelly, who I like to call the Australian Bob Dylan.

If half of us who say: I’m only one person, I can’t make a difference, started to try we could change the world. We just have to start letting those in power know that we don’t think it’s cool to let a few whack job zealots dictate what will go on in the rest of the world. And I’m talking about all the zealots here, be they Muslim extremists hell bent on the destruction of the western way of life. And the Christians who say "thou shall not kill" but support the death penalty and war without a hint of hypocrisy. Or the left wing nut cases who don’t want anyone to be able to acknowledge their religion in public. All these people suck donkey cock and the rest of us, who can think rationally need to shut them up!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Greazy & Inky's Baby.

So with Inky turning 30 yesterday we officially became a member of the US's fastest growing problem. We are a couple in our 30's who have no kids. Right wing nutjobs all hate people like us, because we are not propagating the white race. I say fuck 'em, I have other shit to do with my life. Case in point: we purchased a new (old) dining room table this week. It is a vintage 1950's table, complete with the chrome legs, and accent piece on the side. The chairs have the original vinyl on them, with hardly a knick to be found. The table seats 6, but what cracks me up is how tiny the chairs are. I guess the American ass has gotten a lot bigger in the last 50 years. Inky and I both think this table has a lot more character then the shit we would have paid five times more for at a store today. These table sets went for right around $150.00 in '56 and we didn't pay a whole lot more in '06. Now we just need to work on getting a house with some more character, like a row home downtown and we'll really be on our way.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Two different types of people:

A few months ago I did the first in a series of posts about how there are only two different types of people in the world. Today I continue that theme. Most people can be divided into commonly recognized camps such as Elvis or the Beatles or Coke or Pepsi. Those are easy things, but some are harder to figure out. I think most people in this world either fall into a pattern of blaming themselves or blaming everyone else.

The news is riddled with stories of people who can point a finger at who it was that made them the fucked up adult they are today. Be it a overly protective parent, or an absentee parent; a hurtful lover or a clinging nuisance, so many people have a Rollo Tomassi. (If you don't know who this is, for gods sake rent "LA Confidential.) Christ, just turn on Oprah and you will see guests who make ridiculous claims like: "I can't lose weight because my mother over fed me." Or: "The reason I am not a success in life is because my high school basketball coach never told me I was good enough." Then there are always the absurd excuses fucknuts who cheat feed to their spouses. "I wouldn't have fucked the secretary if my wife had lost the baby weight and kept the house clean." Or: "I only fucked that other girl because I didn't know how to love myself, so I couldn't love my wife." Pathetic.

Of course, the other camp isn't without fault as well. Because while the people above are hurting others to make themselves feel better, the second group is hurting themselves to make others feel better. They always assume that everything is their fault, and that they are the reason why things go wrong. These are the people who say excuse me when someone runs into them on the street, and I should know, because I am one of them. These people enable the people above by not only eating the shit sandwich, but telling the person who serves it to them that they really enjoyed it.

When you blame yourself for things that other people so obviously fucked up you do yourself the greatest disservice of all. I'm all about personal responsibility, which my older brother recently talked about in his blog, but at some point you also have to be able to stand up and say: This is not my fault, and I won't feel bad about it. Some times, no matter how hard you try people will just fuck up. And if you did nothing to cause their fuck up, you can't beet yourself up about it.

It makes me think about a classic scene from Kevin Smith's O.G. Jersey Movie "Clerks" where a customer gets his hand caught in a pringles can trying to get the last chip from the bottom. Dante pats this guy on the back after helping him extricate his hand from said can and gives him this pearl: "sometimes you just have to let those hard to reach chips go." And sometimes no mater how much work you do for your boss, they will shit on you, and you will feel like it's all your fault. Sometimes, no matter how much you do for a friend, they will always treat you like dirt and make you feel like it's all your fault. Sometimes no matter how much you bend over backward to help a loved one, they will only be able to come up with the things you didn't do. And you just have to let those hard to reach chips go.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Didn't know she was Irish.

Anyone who knows me, knows there are only a few things in this world I hate more then Britney Spears (Lukas from Rockstar, The Black Eyed Peas and The Pussy Cat dolls are on this list.) To that end, I take every chance I can to poke fun at Brit. So here she goes having her second demon spawn just 363 days after she pushed out the first one. There was a time in this country when kids were called Irish Twins when they were both born with in a calendar year of each other, now we just call them trailer trash. Honey, please! You're supposed to let that thing heal up before you let k-fed go poking around in there. It's a vagina, not a clown car. My theory is that Britney will only let Kevin fuck her on December 15, as an early Christmas present. (Do the math people) and so we will all have to go through this again next year at this time. I hope she's setting some money aside for these kids, because with there combined gene pool they are gonna need it!


Monday, September 11, 2006

They're right. I don't.

Working on a college campus has a few ups and downs. One of the negative things about it, is how old it can make a 30 year old guy feel. Here are all these 18 to 22 year olds walking around in huge sweatshirts and shorts while talking on their cell phones. Sure we all wore shorts in the winter and heavy sweatshirts in the summer but god knows we didn't have cel phones when I was in college, which was only 8 years ago. One of the other ways I feel old is all of the fads that I know nothing about. One thing I have seen all over campus this semester is bumper stickers and window clings that read "It's a Jeep Thing... you wouldn't understand." I know this is not only a college student fad, because I've seen these before, but never in this concentration. I've seen 7 or 8 of them on our campus of only five thousand students. What I want to know is this: what am I not understanding? It would be one thing if these stickers were on Jeep Wranglers with mud all over the sides and big knobby tires for off roading. But, these stickers are almost all on Jeep Cherokees, the soccer mom car of the 90's. If they are dirty it's because they haven't been washed not because they have been out thrashing up some bog. Do they get really good gas mileage? Is that what I don't understand?

The bigger question is not if it's a jeep thing or not, it's why we have allowed this to go on. I couldn't get away with putting a sticker on my car that said "It's a saturn thing, you wouldn't understand." So let's rise up en masse and say "we do understand, and we are not impressed." That is all.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Gotta Love Netflix!!!

When I was a kid, we used to flip through the back of TV guide, on a mission. We looked at each and every movie capsule in search of the tiny letters that told parents what to look for before letting your child watch a movie. "N" for nudity was jackpot, but there was also "SC" for sexual content and if desperate you may settle for "BN" for brief nudity. And thus another safeguard put in place by adults to shield kids from "grown up" material proved a gateway to what we wanted to see, or hear. (See the Parental Advisory label on Records as well.)

These days we have TIVO to show us the N's, AC's and BN's, and thanks to cable coupled with Bush's ever dropping approval rating, you can still see soft core porn in your own home. You can also look over the suggestions that Netflix gives you and take a flier on a movie you may not otherwise see. And so it was that I put "Cheeky" in my queue a few months ago. It took a while to work it's way to the top of my list of movies, but once it did... Holy shit! Sure this movie was made by infamous Italian movie maker Tinto Brass. The same guy who teamed with Gore Vidal to make "Caligula" back in the late 70's, but I was not prepared for modern Italian film making. I had seen "Caligula" when I was in college and thought it was funny that so many people thought this porn movie was a masterpiece of the cinema. That didn't prepare me for Brass' latest piece of art: a movie which finally steps up to honor the female backside.

To be totally fair, I have not seen the whole movie, just bits and pieces as I was making a copy. That said, what I did see was amazing. Through the subtitles I gathered that the main character, a girl with a lovely caboose as seen in the above picture, is having problems renting her London Flat out. Somehow, each time I checked back with the progress of the recording she was in some sexual situation or another. Be it at the bath house, in the powder room at a party, or in the flat itself she was involved in sexual congress with scads of men and women. And this little miracle came right to my door with a tiny self addressed, postage paid return envelope! All I have to say is, that's good work out of you Netflix, and that's some more good work out of you Tinto Brass and Yuliya Mayarchuk.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Show Review: "Dane Cook, Vicious Circle"

I hate to do this, but here it is. I've been into Dane Cook for years now. I first saw him on Comedy Central as part of Cam Neely's special, and he was fucking hilarious. His bit about public restrooms alone made him an instant favorite. Shortly after that Dane made an appearance on KML a morning radio show in Baltimore, where I was living at the time. As his records have come out I have snatched them up, and shared the joy that is Dane Cook with my friends and coworkers. Hell, at my last job we spoke "Daneish" as a second language.

And so it was that we gathered at a former coworkers house to watch his first HBO special "Vicious Circle." Hat's off to Rob who had ruffles, Cristal Lite and cashews on hand for the event. They were delicious and nutritious. We all watched Dane take the stage with mounting anticipation, and for the most part he didn't let us down. There were a few jokes that were recycled from past records, but he did spruce them up with new angles. There were a few show stoppers that had all of us laughing till we thought we were going to puke. I don't want to give away any of the big Punch lines or point out any of the great set ups, so I'll just say it was classic Dane. He may have done a mile or two between the walk out, the pursuit of a fan who came to the stage and then retreated to the seats, and his constant motion on stage. Dane's body motion isn't his signature move, but it's damn close. In the end it was 90 minutes of great comedy, and I say to Dane: That's good work out of you."


Monday, September 04, 2006

R.I.P. Steve Irwin

Let's face it, he was easy to poke fun at from time to time. Here in America, people made fun of his accent or his vernacular. Even in Oz some more cosmopolitan city dwellers were put off by his portrayal of their country. In the end, however, Steve Irwin was Aussie through and through. He loved his land, and did all he could to share that love with the rest of the world.

Some people see his death while diving on the Great Barrier Reef as an eventuality. I personally envy a man who lived 44 years doing what he loved, knowing that at any moment his work could kill him. Taking the fact that he leaves a wife and two kids without a husband and father, which is sad on every level, I admire everything about how he lived. Terri, Bindi and Bob must be crushed by his death, but one would imagine that they had all grown accustomed to the ever present risks of her work. In years to come I hope they emerge from their grief to feel very proud and inspired by his example of living life to its fullest, and doing so by doing what you love.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

When we were on the air.

My brother introduced me to a NYC based trio called Girlyman who sing some wonderful harmonies, and write some damn fine songs. The first time I listened to their song "On the Air" a certain line rang true for me. "I was someone then, when we were on the air." For four years while I was in college I spent the lion's share of my time at the campus radio station, both as a DJ and in various rolls among the student leadership. This was the place where I cultivated most of the friendships that I have maintained since college, and most importantly, where I met Inky.

I don't want to sound as if the last 8 years have been shit when compared to the 4 in college, because that's just not true. I live a wonderful life, and wouldn't trade it for almost anything. That said, there was a certain freedom to everyday life in college that you can never get back. That's mostly what I miss. It was a time where "full time" meant 15 credit hours and a few clubs or organizations and a whole lot of drinking and hooking up.

Most of these things are resigned to our past, no matter how hard we may ever try to resurrect them. I'm 30. There's no more going to frat partys, being the judge in a kissing contest, or playing beer-pong for hours on end. It's like Chris Rock said: "You don't want to be the old guy at the club." But, I'm surrounded by youth these days, and I can't help be effected by it. I walk around campus each and every day, albeit in my suit, and I feel a little more pep in my step.

"Greazy, you're all over the place here. What's the point?"

Well the point is, this. "I was someone then when we were on the air." Not to the world at large, but to my self. Shit, the signal from the radio station didn't even cover all of campus when I started. Even after we moved to a stronger transmitter and a higher frequency we just barely covered half the town. But, I was someone in my own mind, which in the end is all you need. I would sit there atop my stool with the big mic hanging down in front of me, with XL or Inky at my side and feel like I was on top of the world. We got pumped up by producing a funny bit, or a witty liner, and we would pat ourselves on the back when we expertly faded the end of one song into the intro to the next. "People just don't know!" Inky would say on these occasion , referring to the amount of practice and skill this audio transaction really took.

Now, there's the chance for us to be somebody to ourselves again. We may take the reigns of another radio show, back in the same booth. I know there's no chance of being 21 again, but I'm also grown up enough to know that there is nothing wrong with that. I know now that all we need to do if find the little things that make us feel like someone, no matter our age.


Friday, September 01, 2006

The New Job.

So, I just finished my second week at my new job, and so far I couldn't be happier. I spent the better part of today dealing with paperwork and organization, two things I loath. But, it didn't seem so bad, partly because the end justifies the means at this job. There is something so nice about working for an organization that you like, and in who's well being you are interested. Unlike my last job, I want my current employer to do well. Hell at my last job I all but wished that they would become the next Enron.

I know as time marches on I will get caught up in the normal office shit. When ever you are dealing with a bunch of personalities there will be a moment or two that rub you wrong. What's nice about this job is that there are no stock holders. Working for a non profit doesn't absolve you from having to think about the bottom line, but unlike the corporate world we are not slaves to the interests of others. My previous employer made no bones about the fact that the stock holder was more important then the employees. And so, two weeks into my non stock holder driven employment I must say leaving my old job was very good work out of me.