Sunday, October 31, 2010

Odd Weekend Bits - The Sane Edition

Happy Halloween and welcome to a mishmash of Odd Bits and random notions.

I’ve mentioned before that my neighborhood does not do Halloween.  I live in an area heavily populated by Orthodox Jews; I don’t know if that’s it or there’s another reason, but I’ve never had a single trick-or-treater in 12 years of living here.

But you never really know; so better safe than sorry.  So I had to go out and get at least one bag of candy, just in case.  There will be no faking that I’m not home because the Steelers/Saints game will have the house a’rockin’.  (More on that, later.)  And I’d hate to disappoint some little princess in fairy wings.  I mean, I could have poured some Cheetos in her bag but I don’t think that would quite cut it.

So if I have some candy to give out tonight, we win.  If we have to eat it ourselves, we win.  I like those kinds of odds.

Search for Reality
I am getting absolutely slammed with Google searches from all over the world landing here seeking a picture of Pennywise, the Evil Clown, from the Stephen King novel, “It.”  It’s been building all month and went crazy on Friday and Saturday.

Being quite thick for some reason this weekend, I asked The Twitter what the hell was going on.  Michelle, of Burgh Baby, was kind enough to nicely to clue me in that, not that it was a big secret or anything but it was about to be HALLOWEEEEEEEN!

Oops.  Paging Captain Obvious…

Anyway, I’m declaring this right now.  If I open that door tonight and see someone dressed up as Pennywise, the only thing they’re going to get is a door slammed in their face.  Probably followed by screaming, and possible some whimpering from behind the door.

Fucking clowns… I hate’em.

Fear Not the Sanity
Did you see any of the “Rally For Sanity and/or Fear” yesterday?  (Besides you, Bagger, I know you and the Mrs. attended.)  I watched the whole thing on TV and I must say that I thought they did a great job.  There was a nice balance struck between message and entertainment.  There were some clever bits, of course… The “duel” between Cat Stevens’ Yusef’s “Peace Train” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” was inspired.  Digging up the O’Jays to finish off with “Love Train” was a nice touch.

To me, the highlight of the entire affair was the summation speech by Jon Stewart himself, as he pilloried the media and other hyper-partisan factions for promoting hysteria, to the detriment of the society they profess to serve.  My favorite quote, “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”

See the speech in its entirety by clicking below.  Trust me, it’s worth it.

I’ll be interested to see if the usual crowd-estimate dispute breaks out.  It is the perfect microcosm of what’s wrong with our political world. 

For example, at Obama’s Inauguration, the Dems hyped the attendance while the Repubs sited a lower figure from an independent source that made calculations from aerial shots.  Then after Glen Beck’s rally, they were pumping their own estimates right there from the stage, and later completely dismissed as biased, the same independent sources that they trumpeted at the Inauguration because they undercut the Republican’s estimate.

The Mojo Boogie
The Steelers play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football tonight.  Halloween night in New Orleans… That place ought to be insane tonight, absolutely insane.

I had to consult The Google this afternoon to figure out what jerseys the teams were wearing.  So far, every “away” game the Steelers have played, they’ve worn their home black jerseys because the real home team chose to wear white.  (No, not because they are virgins; because they were warm weather sites and dark jerseys absorb the heat.)

Now the Saints are a dome team, but they’ve been wearing their white jerseys at home so far this year.  But tonight, they’re reverting to black.  They may even go all black and wear their black pants too.  I hate when teams do that.  It makes them all look like fat ninjas.

Anyway, this will be the Steelers’ first opportunity to wear their whites, and therefore, so will I.  And because it’s Halloween, I’m going to go all “ghostly” and rock the white from head to toe.  I’m going with the white James Harrison #92 with the SBXLIII patch with my white Steelers sweats.  I am, however, wearing some counterpoint with my black Steelers long-sleeve Tee, with yellow sleeves.

I’m just hoping the “ghostly” doesn’t end up “ghastly.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I love to do posts out of editorial cartoons because they have a way of distilling an opinion down to a single indelible image.

Plus, they're really easy.

Thanks to First Door on the Left for finding these in the first place.

Have a great weekend and remember to vote on Tuesday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Undercover Gloss

I never claimed to have the greatest taste in TV.  I don’t watch PBS.  I don’t watch the Discovery Channel or the Learning Channel or the Travel Channel, or the English Channel. 

I watch violence-riddled shows like 24, or shows with yummy-looking ladies like 30 Rock, Modern Family and Cougartown, or hilarious shows like 30 Rock, Modern Family and Cougartown.  I watch Survivor, the Amazing Race and The Apprentice.  I watch hero-shows like Heroes, Chuck or No Ordinary Family.  I like episodic dramas like The Event, The Mentalist and The Good Wife.  I watch weird hocus pocus shows like Fringe and previously Lost.  I watch Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.

Sometimes I have to scramble a bit to work them all in around watching football and hockey.  (Hooray for the DVR!)  I’m OK with admitting all of the above.  Those are my likes and I can stand behind them.  But there’s one other that I hate myself that I even watch, because it’s manipulative, hackneyed, crass, and insults one’s intelligence.  I hate that I watch Undercover Boss.  I never intended to, it just kind of came on one night when there was nothing else on, and I gave it a shot. 

Let’s start with why I do watch.

On One Hand
The idea of the Big Bossman coming down to work with the commoners is a good one and a lot of people can relate to that.  Everyone likes to see the Boss get his hands dirty in the real world of the company he runs. 
Also, I do like to see behind-the-scenes stuff about how companies do things, like how warehouse orders are pulled, stores are prepared and shelves filled, airliners are prepared, hotels are cleaned and maintained, etc.

Then there’s the human interaction.  We like to see the Bosses learn what their stringent policies have wrought in real human terms, like with a female garbage truck driver, who has a strict schedule to keep and no where to pee during an 8-hour shift.  Or the (many) people that have to do the jobs of 2 (or more) people because of personnel cutbacks.  Or the people who have to work several jobs just to make ends meet, because of wage reductions.

We also like to see a rude customer service agent caught in the act when the CEO sees them disrespecting customers or their own employees.

At the end of the show, all the people the Bossman worked with are called to the home office for the big reveal.  If I could just watch one bit of the show, I’d pick the moment when they realize that it was their CEO that they just had cleaning poo out of a hotel pool, or some other menial task.  They then discuss what the Boss learned and what changes the employee can look forward to.  That’s also part of the show I hate.

On the Other Hand
There are a lot of reasons I hate this show.  First of all, it’s really nothing but a giant sloppy kiss to the business community.  Each episode is essentially one big product placement opportunity.  I bet CEOs are crawling all over each other to get on this show.  The network and producers are basically saying, “Let’s pull this rich schmuck out of his mansion, make him give up golf for a week, and pretend to mingle with his minions.”

Then there’s the employees the Boss works with.  I’ve seen enough episodes now that the same types show up over and over again… the dude doing the scut work with a great attitude and smile on his face.  The single mother that’s working her brains out to support her children…  The woman that has mad organizational skills but is stuck in a dead-end position...  The father with the disabled child at home for whom he’s trying to earn medical care…

There’s no way the Boss is working with these people by accident.  If they’re not plants, they’ve been evaluated and specifically selected for their emotional wallop.  Sob stories make good TV, especially if the Boss then gets to help them out in the end.  And that leads to the part that pisses me off the most.

In the end, the Boss never solves the fucking problem.  He’ll get a new golf cart for the scut-work dude and maybe lay some cash on him.  He’ll give the single mother a paid vacation to be with her kids.  He’ll promote the woman with the organizational skills.  He’ll buy the medical treatment for the sick kid…

None of that fixes the problem for anyone else!  If there is one, there are thousands of people in his company with the same situation.  You never see them address the staffing levels, or job descriptions beyond the handful of schmoes he worked with.  

They also love to appoint people to new panels they create, to study conditions and such.  Right.  Research panels.  Like that’s going to actually fix anything.  I know exactly how that goes. 

The panel convenes, the employees say, “We need 2 more order pickers per shift.” 
The CFO says, “We can’t afford that much payroll.”

The employees say, “We need better medical coverage.”

HR says, “We don’t have that in the budget, so you would have to cover the higher premiums.

The employees say, “We need a decent wage.”

CFO says, “We’d have to lay people off to pay you more.”

To be fair, two weeks ago, the CEO of Frontier Airlines said he was going to look into reversing the 10% wage reduction he had enacted a year earlier.  That was the first time in 2 seasons a Boss has done anything to better the conditions of anyone besides those featured in the episode.

If they can’t address the problem as a whole, what’s the point of going under cover?  Is it really to help the lives of 4 people out of the hundreds or thousands on the payroll?  It’s all nothing but advertising, designed to make you feel good about the featured company, its executives and big business in general.

See?  Corporate fat-cats are people too!

That’s what makes the show nothing but a tear-jerking, manipulative piece of corporate propaganda (that I watch every week.)

Maybe with the Steelers playing 2 of the next 3 Sunday nights, I can wean myself off these empty visual calories.  I will NOT be DVRing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Update from The Pit

I was emailing with Sitcom Kelly today.  Lest you forget, she’s the one that wants to dig a special Silence of the Lambs pit in her basement in the hopes of populating it with Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.  I described that story as part of a post last year.  The Pit evolved out of one of our emails too and it became a staple of the “Sitcom” about her life. 

We had another email thread that started as a party discussion and ended with no one at her party except her, a pan of ziti and Letang, of course, who was already in The Pit.  You can see that post here.

So today, when the Puck Huffers featured this new pic of Kris Letang, I had to share it with Sitcom Kelly.  It went like this:

“Ere’s looking at you, dere, Si’com Ke-lee.”

SK: Funny, I was just reading a blog about my purpose in life.  And there it is.

Bluz: That’s the “Will you pleeeeeeease let me out of this Pit” look.

SK: “If you let me out, I’ll promise to love you forever.”

Bluz: (as SK) “No, you’ll just run away again.  You’ll be much happier right were you are.

SK: “Now shut up and eat your ziti.”

I was on the floor.

Later in the day, she sent me a link to NFL Shop online, where they’re selling small bottles of water made from the melted ice of the last rink surface at Mellon Arena.  Ginny at That’s Church had mentioned this last week.  For what it’s worth, I think it’s a great idea.  Not for $39.99 though.  Do we reeeeeally know that it’s not just tap water in a commemorative bottle?

So I answered back:

Bluz: PittGirl was talking about that last week… first appeared for 5.99, then disappeared from the site.  That would have been a heck of a bargain.

I love the idea though.  Can just see SK dabbing some on before a game.

SK: Have to do a DNA test to make sure Kris Letang’s sweat is in there somewhere.

Bluz: It sponges the sweat from off its brow, if it would like some ziti now…”

She didn't respond to that one, but obviously, she should be able to harvest some Letang sweat right from the source.

Note:  OK, now I know I may be pushing this “Letang in the Pit” theme a bit too hard.  When I did the Google image search (Silence of the Lambs Girl in the Pit) to find the base for that last shot, the picture of Letang I shot 2 years ago, and used in prior posts, showed up on page 3.  God, I love running jokes!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Mojo Boogie Aftermath - Week 7

This week’s Steelers game was once again opposite the Ratbirds, so I had to catch the game at Jilly’s, my local sports bar.  Sitcom Kelly met me there.

So far this season, the “random” factor has been ruling my Steelers mojo.  I haven’t worn the same shirt twice to games at Jilly’s, to I opted to continue that streak.  However, I’ve worn the same hat each time, so I continued that too.  This was today’s mojo gear:

Note:  The Steelers wore black again, even as the visitors.  This is the third Steelers away game that the home team decided to wear white.  The Steelers have not worn their white jerseys all season.  I figured that was the way things were going to go today, hence my wearing a black polo.

Sitcom Kelly and I sat at the bar and right off the bat, the yokel beside me started in about the Steelers game.

Yokel: Ben ought to be banned from the league for raping people.  It’s disgusting.

Me: Boy, Ravens fans sure have short memories.

Yokel:  Why do we have short memories.

(Game action was continuing on the screens, so I didn’t answer right away.  Yokel repeated his question 2 more times.)

Me:  You all forget that you had a player that got convicted and did jail time for a crime that left 2 people freakin’ dead and everyone here thinks he’s their hero.  No one ever proved anything ever happened with Ben; they didn’t even have enough to bring charges.

Yokel:  Ray didn’t do nothin’.

Me:  He lied to the cops and obstructed an investigation.  He pleaded to it and was convicted.

I didn’t hear a peep about the Steelers out of the Yokel for the rest of the afternoon.  Just the way I like it.

For the record, I think Ben’s a douchbag… a big-timing, self-important egomaniac that thinks he’s King Shit of Turd Mountain.  Tales of his rampant douchebaggery abound in Pittsburgh.  But it’s not a crime to be an asshole.  I don’t know what happened in Georgia and I suspect there are only 2 people in the world that do.  He says he’s turned himself around.  Time will tell.  But regardless, I don’t want to hear any shit being thrown by some Ratbird-loving shit-kicker.  Last time I checked, those two fuckers that got knifed in Atlanta are still dead.  And Ray-Ray is doing Old Spice commercials.

The Steelers handed 6 points to the Dolphins right out of the gate, courtesy of a couple of fumbles, on their own 22 and 13.  Both times the Steelers defense held them to 3-and-out.

So when the Phins start crying about the controversy at the end of the game that led to the game winning Pittsburgh field goal, they can look in the mirror.  If you can’t get a touchdown from there, on your home field, you have bigger problems than the freakin’ refs.

For what it’s worth, I thought the ball should have gone to the Dolphins.  It was a fumble and the defense came up with the ball.  (Ben said he had it until the refs told him it was a TD.)  It was hard to tell from my seat in a sports bar, with no audio of that game.  But I don’t care.  The Steelers have had their share of inexplicable calls that went against them.  Occasionally it cost them a game.  More often, they overcome it and win anyway.

Remember, the Dolphins still had time to move the ball and get into field goal range.  They did squat with that opportunity.

On a lighter note, while we were at the bar, Sitcom Kelly ordered this Pumpkin Ale that came with honey and cinnamon on the rim of the glass.  I had to ask the barkeep to make sure she had a pry-bar handy, in case the suction created in getting at the honey dribbling down the inside of the glass created a seal that affixed the glass to her face.

One only need look at the troubles of Winnie the Pooh to know that honey and small containers don’t mix, especially when you throw a drunk chick into the mix.

So, the Steelers won and the Ratties barely squeaked one out in OT against the 0-5 Bills.  Kelly was upset but I had to remind her that the fact that the Rats didn’t blow out a bottom feeding team is just as good as a loss, from a smack-talking perspective.  The sports-talk radio is going to be burning up tomorrow.

That’s all good for me.  The more discord among the locals, the better.  It’s only a matter of time before they turn on their own team.  And that makes me very, very happy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Now Batting - BLUZ (bluz) DUDE (dude dude)

I’ve been meaning to write this but with the World Series dawning, I figure I better get off the dime or I’ll have to hold it until Spring.

If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, or paid close attention at home when watching on TV, you may have noticed that when a home team batter comes to the plate, they play a snippet of a song during his introduction.  Many clubs allow the batter to pick his music.

I’d be all over that.  If I were a major league baseball player, I’d make it my business to get to know the ballpark music guy reeeeeeeal well.  Nothing like 7 seconds of music to get me pumped up to smack some long ball.  Although knowing me, I’d start dallying a bit, in order to hear more of the song.  Is it bad form to play air guitar on the bat?

I wouldn’t be able to limit myself to a song or two all year… I’d need to widen the assortment far more than that.  Maybe 20?  25?  There would have to be certain songs for certain situations.

And of course I’d have to track my production with each song on a spreadsheet.  Without data, it’s just not scientific.

I’d see it working like this: I send the music guy 4 songs before the game.  If I get a hit, he plays the same song again until I make an out.  If a big situation comes up, I may have to whip out my cell and call to the booth for a “special” selection.

The problem would come in when my team was on the road.  They don’t play your music as a visitor.  I’d have to pay the clubhouse boy to hold up a boom box like John Cusack in Say Anything.

So what would I use?  Deep breath…

A whole lot of AC/DC, that’s for sure.  Every song is instant adrenaline.  Top contenders would be: TNT, Long Way to the Top if You Wanna Rock & Roll, Dirty Deeds, Let There Be Rock and the main riff from Sin City, live.  I’d also use the intro to Dirty Eyes, which is the original version of Whole Lotta Rosie.  All of these would be staples.

Styx – Blue Collar Man.  I’d also consider Renegade, but I’d be afraid I’d get caught up in the moment and blast somebody.  Burghers, you know what I’m talking about.  If you’re not from Pittsburgh, the Steelers play Renegade during the 2nd half of football games, accompanying a series of Steelers defensive highlights on the scoreboard.  It features a series of devastating hits, for which if they happen again, someone gets fined and suspended.  See for yourself:
Shot by me at last year’s Steelers/Chargers game.

Krokus – Long Stick Goes Boom.  It’s a little known song by Krokus, a Swiss band that sounded like AC/DC.  The title alone makes it perfect for batting.

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell.  This would be one of the “specials,” for when the team really needs my Bat to connect.

Roy Buchanan – Short Fuse.  Incendiary guitar instrumental by the late great blues guitarist.  It’s kind of like the Batman TV Theme meets Jimi Hendrix.

Joe Satriani – Summer Song.  What better for the boys of summer?  Up-tempo guitar instrumental.

Sammy Hagar – Only One Way to Rock
Judas Priest – You Got Another Thing Coming.  Can’t lose with balls-out 80’s rock.

(Note: How funny would it be if someone tried a song that was completely against type?  I’m thinking like the Monty Python “Knights of the Round Table” song, or Philosopher’s Song.)

Scorpions – Rock You Like a Hurricane.  I’d use the version they made with the Berlin Philharmonic.  The intro totally rocks it.  They use this coming out of intermission, sometimes, at Penguins games.

Lastly, for when I’m no the big stage and the game’s on the line, there’s only one song that guaranteed to bring out my best.

Bill Conti – Going the Distance.  Otherwise known as the Fight Theme from Rocky.  Goosebumps every time… gets me completely jacked up.  Biggest drawback is that I may slug the ump.  But it may not be used if we’re playing Philadelphia.
This is the song, but the video is a mashup from the 6 Rocky movies.

OK, that was me… what about you?  What would your adrenaline song be?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Ex-"Wife" I Actually Miss

As I mentioned in a post this weekend, my old department at work has been sold off and will be shut down in February.  I’m pretty bummed about that; there are some good people there that I hope can find another job within the organization.

This was the department I was hired into, back when I knew absolutely nada about the business.  But they gave me a chance and over all, it was very good for me.

There was a certain period there, between 2002 and maybe 2005, which I remember very fondly.  There was big growth in the department and an influx of new, fun people.  We had quite a cast of characters.  I mentioned in one of my office pranks posts about how when Jenn and Kristy came to us, they brought an air of fun and activity to a previously staid bunch.

It was this department expansion that brought me Pam.  They put her in a cube right behind mine.  It was kind of an open area, so there was no wall between our spaces.  Every morning, I’d come stumbling in; my mind elsewhere, my body craving a Diet Coke.  And every day, she’d say, “Good morning!!!” and give me her big beaming smile.  She had this Minnie Mouse voice that sounded like a squeeze toy. 

I’d usually mumble a quick “Mrnin” and go on about my business.  One morning when she greeted me, I was too wrapped up in my own world to answer.  Then I heard, “I SAID, GOOD MORNINNNNNG…”

She sounded like Satan on 78-speed.  There was no beaming smile this time, only wrath.  So the next morning when I came in, I made sure she knew I’d learned my lesson and enthusiastically said, “Good morning, Sunshine!”  The beaming smile returned and all was right with the world again.

This immediately became our new morning routine and running patter.  I’d always fuss if she was going to be off for the day, telling her, “But a day without Pam is like a day without Sunshine!” 

She’d gesture wildly and say, “Then I’d better give you some extra rays today.”

From then on, we were bound together.  She was my Work Wife and I was her Work Husband.  We didn’t exactly throw those terms around, but they applied.
Pam and I at a department event being interviewed by a fake microphone.

Before she came to the department, I’d see her on the elevator sometimes.  I used to wonder not only who she was, but what she was.  She looked so exotic, with her enormous brown eyes, long black hair and honey-colored skin.  I thought she might be middle eastern… Egyptian or something.   
I never asked, though I continued to wonder.  Then one day we were at lunch with another person we worked with and she got right to the point.

So, what are you, anyway?

I almost spit my Diet Coke.  Nothing like that East Baltimore directness.

Turns out she was bi-racial… half black, half white Canadian, but all sista.

We all hung out a lot as a group, whether it was going to lunch, or out to happy hour.  But if I went anywhere, it was always with Pam.  It was like we were the figurative mother and father.  It got to be so if there was something going and she wasn’t at my side, it felt like something was all wrong.  Like once when I went to our company Christmas party and she wasn’t there, all night long I kept turning to say something to her, forgetting that she was home with her family.

Oh yeah, her family… Pam was married and had a baby girl at home before I even met her.  So there was never anything remotely romantic about our relationship.  We were friends from the start and that was that.  But I know there were others in the department that thought we were getting’ busy.  Never happened.

In fact, I used to joke that compared to her husband, I get all the downside of being married to her, like hearing her bitch about stuff, but without the “benefits.”  Then she’d say, “He ain’t gettin’ any “benefits” either…”

Pam was the first one I wanted to tell, when something big happened.  I’d take vacation pictures based on what I thought Pam might like to see.  And I always brought her home a refrigerator magnet from where ever I was.  When our department needed hosts for an awards meeting, Pam and I presented together.  We killed, of course.

Back then, I was exploring the world of  That could be a series of posts in itself, but suffice to say, nothing was happening at work, so I thought I’d try a more efficient method of dating.  But I hadn’t really dated since I’d been married and was woefully out of practice.  Enter “The Sisterhood.”

The Sisterhood was Pam and our friend, Jennifer.  (Not the Jenn of the prior posts.)  All of my dating decisions went through them: who I was choosing, where we’d go, what we’d talk about, what I’d wear, when to call back… everything.  It was nice not to have to work it all out in the echo-chamber of my own head.
This is the Sisterhood, posing with Chris Rock, who we just happen to see standing outside his hotel, while we were on our way to lunch.  He was in town filming his movie “Head of State.”

Everyone makes friends at work, but most of the time it’s the kind of friendship that only happens there.  Once your out of the building, it’s like there is a line drawn.  And once someone leaves the job, chances are you may keep in touch for a short time, but pretty soon, you never hear from them again.
Pam at happy hour, with Kristy.

Pam was rare because I know she actually cared.  There was a time when I had a lot of doctor’s appointments that I’d go to early, then go straight to work.  But if I didn’t tell Pam ahead of time, she would call my house to see where the hell I was.  And I wouldn’t know about it until I got home that night and played the message.  It would always crack me up.

Bluz… are you there?  Bluuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuzzzzzz?  Pick up!  Are you there?  Are you OK?

Then she’d add the unnecessary part: “It’s me, Pam…”

As if anyone else could hit that particular register, without an assist from helium.

You may think that this is the part where I tell the part of the story where some terrible tragedy occurs.

Not in this story.  The only “tragedy” was when Pam decided to pack it in and return home to be there for when her daughter was to start school.  I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do.  She was like my left arm and being without her left me swimming the corporate seas alone, (and always in a circle).  The only thing that made her departure tolerable was that a month later, I joined a new department, so I had a whole new experience to start.

That was in 2006.  We’ve kept in touch over the years.  She’s had a second daughter since, but we still talk on the phone and get together maybe 2-3 times a year, at least.  Sometimes we meet at a local diner or restaurant.  But more often, we meet at my local sports bar on a Sunday, when I’m there for the Steelers game, and she wants to see her Cowboys.  (I know, I know… the Cowboys… it’s her one character flaw.) 
Cowboy Sunshine, watching her ‘Boys last November.

In fact, we just did this past weekend, which is what put me in mind to write about her.  I was at the bar with my brother, watching the Steelers game and around the third quarter I got a call from Pam, who wanted to get out of the house.

So she came out for the Cowboys game, which was on at 4:00.  Man that was a long day at the bar for me: 12:30 to 8:30.  Still, I was having so much fun I could have stayed longer.  It was like I was getting my Sunshine fix while I could.

Before she left the company, we had a big going away party for her, and of course we did a scrapbook, as is our custom.  I did a couple of pages worth; some of what you’ve already read was included.

It was hard to say goodbye.  But luckily, I really didn’t have to.  And what I said in her scrapbook  then stands true today: “She’s been my friend, my Work Wife, my co-host, my conscience, and will always be, my Sunshine."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Happy Hour Bluz

I just got back from having a happy hour with Sitcom Kelly.  That’s always good for a blog post idea.

I had an idea of what I wanted to write about tonight, but I know that it would take time, sensitivity and care.  I don’t have any of those things right now, because I’m basically still drunk.  So I’m calling an audible.  (Mrs. Bachelor Girl, that’s football-talk for changing the play at the last second.)

First, there are 2 factors at play here.  For one, Sitcom Kelly (SK) has been promising that she’s going to start a blog, any day now.  I’ve been prodding her along because given the material that her life hands her every freakin’ day, it would have to be a riot.  So tonight she promised that she was going to start her blog this very night, as soon as she got home from happy hour.

There is no chance of this happening.  The cats will need her attention, or she’ll spend 3 hours on the phone with her sister or some friend from out of town, or raccoons will have gnawed through her modem connection… there will be something that keeps her from starting a blog tonight.  (Most likely, the 2 pitchers we sucked up tonight.)

The other thing is that she just got back from a trip to California and Colorado.  Included in that trip was an excursion to Disneyland.  One of the things she told me tonight is how she basically had to elbow kids out of her way in order to get the perfect photo of Donald Duck.  (I don’t doubt this for a second.)

While I maintained that what follows would make a great post for SK to write, I know damned well that she’s not going to start anything tonight, other than a fresh bottle of wine.  So with apologies rendered, I have to write about this idea.

Our discussion went on to wondering how marketable it would be to have some kind of Disney After Dark… an alternate Disney universe where there were no kids, the adults could revel in their lost Disney memories and fantasies, and the characters could let their guard down and enjoy a little adult interaction. 

Can’t you just see it?  Donald Duck gets to take off his top, as well as his pants, which he hasn’t ever worn in the first place.  Maybe Mickey gets to put on a paisley shirt, since he never gets to wear one at all.  He’s belly up to the bar and commiserating with the bartender without having to use that fake high-pitched voice.  In my head, he sounds more like Krusty the Clown…

Ehhhh… Fuckin’ Minnie… always busting my balls… look at her over there, playing the slut for the tourists…”

Minnie is in the back of the room, letting the grownups do body shots of Jagermeister out of her belly button.

And look at those two,” pointing to Goofy and Pluto, who are smelling each other’s butts.  “You just know they’re doing it doggy… well, you know.”

Freakin’ Cinderella… she’s not even out of the pumpkin-mobile 10 minutes and she’s got Princes lined up out the doorCarrying on like she’s the Little Freakin’ Mermaid.”

Mickey points giant white thumb toward the redheaded mermaid across the room.

Look at her… She says they all wanna ‘Kiss the Girl’.  You know what I say?  They’re just happy to find a hot chick that doesn’t talk!  Bitch barely has legs for 10 minutes and already she’s got'em in the air.

And what’s with those fucking dwarves, anyhow?  They got their own high Ho, why they gotta be singing about her all goddamned night?  It’s enough to drive a mouse to drink.  It’s all I can do to squeak by any more.”

The bartender brings Mickey his food order… a fish sandwich.  Mickey lifts up the bun, noticing the colorful fish within.

See Nemo?  Should’a listened to your old man.  You wouldn’t have been in this predicament.  Barkeep, a little hot sauce please?


I probably should say that SK wouldn’t have taken the scenario quite this far.  Perhaps she has more sense than I do…

*Note:  This is just a product of my fevered imagination.  This is NOT a paid advertisement for Walt Disney Enterprises, nor is there any such adults-oriented Disney attraction.  Yet.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Mojo Boogie - Week 6

Now that we've said bye-bye to the Steelers bye week, I was looking forward to some Pittsburgh football this weekend.  The Steelers were getting their perv QB Ben Roesthlisberger back after a 4-game suspension to open the season and it was to come against the hapless Cleveland Browns.  Alas, the game was opposite the Ratbirds/Patriots game and wouldn’t be on local TV, so I had to make plans to watch at my neighborhood sports bar, Jilly’s.

So, what to wear, what to wear?

After consulting my mojo spreadsheet, I see that the only time this year that I attempted to match prior history, we lost.  Last year, I faulted myself for trying to force patterns and not recognizing that it was randomness that was being rewarded.  So with that in mind, I decided to forgo matching what I wore the last time the Steelers won when I watched the game at Jilly’s, and go with something new.  I opted for my black Steelers polo with gold stitching, along with the hat I got from Honus Wagner’s in Pittsburgh and my customary Steelers socks.

As a bonus, my brother Ed wanted to come out and watch the game, so we had that rare Bluz Brothers mojo going.

I was initially alarmed when I saw the game starting because the Steelers were wearing their throwback uniforms.  (Black jerseys with gold numbers and white pants.)  If I’da know they were rocking the throwbacks today, I’d have worn my throwback jersey to the bar.  It left me a bit uneasy.  I really should have checked the Pittsburgh paper before I left.  They usually only wear their throwback jerseys twice a year and I have 2 of them.  That cost me a chance to wear one at a prime mojo opportunity.

But then again, they were playing the Cleveland Browns, who were starting a rookie quarterback.  We shouldn’t need much mojo.

And it turns out we didn’t.  The Steelers won fairly easily, 28-10.  Rookie quarterback actually did fairly well, considering the dudes on the other side trying to take his head off.  But not well enough.  Big Ben’s comeback, while not without hiccups, worked out OK.  Dude just needs some more reps to get back in synch.  The Brownies were a good way to ease back into the NFL.

So mojo-wise, it’s looking like it’s a lack of pattern that produces the wins.  We’ll see if that continues throughout the season.  At some point, I may have to repeat myself.  I don’t, after all, have an infinite supply of different Steelers gear.  (OK, so I can probably go a couple of seasons without repeating… that’s not infinite.)

As an added bonus on the day, my old friend and former Work Wife, Pam, called to see if I was at the bar… she wanted to come out and watch her Cowboys on the 4:00 game.  I say “former” Work Wife because she left me, I mean, left the company about 4 years ago.  Someday I’m going to have to do a whole post about Pam.  She’s such a trip.

Yes I know the Cowboys were on regular TV… girlfriend needed to get out of the house.  So that’s how I ended up at the bar from 12:30 this afternoon until about 8:30 tonight.  That is one solid day of boozing it up.

The other added bonus of the day was that the Ratbirds lost to the Patriots.  That’s a missed blessing at best, though, because I never want the evil Patriots to win, but better them than the Ratties.  I don’t have to deal with Pats fans at work. 

Last week, there was a Ratbird fan gloating to me about how the Rats were in first place.  They were 4-1.  The Steelers were 3-1 at the time, after their bye week.  That’s all it takes around here to gloat… a half game in the standings.  Idiots…

So it’s been a long, boozy day, and I hope you don’t hold it against me if I cut this off and go the hell to bed.

Mondays should be outlawed during football season.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Karma Malfunction

It’s been a rough week and a half at work, not so much for me but for a number of my friends.

Last week, it was learned that my old department’s work was being sold to another company.  The department would transition for the rest of this year and be disbanded in February.  It wasn’t a total surprise… people knew something was going to happen eventually.

I’d seen sufficient writing on the wall 4 years ago and made a move to get into another department and hoo-boy, am I ever glad I did.  Having been through a couple of rounds of layoffs already, it’s kind of a sore spot with me.  Both times, it completely fucked up my life.  And now, it’s harder than ever to find a job.

So yesterday, my friend Jenn appeared in my cube, for a talk.  You remember Jenn… she works in my old department and was one of the featured players in this post about office pranks.  She’s the one whose red binders my buddy replaced with ugly black ones, just to shake up her orderly/OCD tendencies.
This is Jenn.  Just look at how her supplies are all lined up on her stack tray on the left.

And don’t feel bad about us pranking her.  Before the job fell to Cassie, it was Jenn’s job to always remind me how painfully old I am becoming.  Of course now, I have an angle with which to fight back, because Jenn’s boyfriend (aka the BoyToy) is significantly younger than her.  That’s more than enough for me to work with.

Anyway, given what was going on, we needed more of a talk than would be realistic in a cube, so we decided to go to lunch.  We decided on her favorite downtown eatery, the Hooters at the Inner Harbor.  (Guys, is this a cool chick to hang with or what?)

It turns out that 5 days before the department elimination was announced, her house got broken into, ransacked and robbed.

She was on her way home from work and talking to the BoyToy on the phone as he was getting home himself.  He spotted some closet doors open, clothes and stuff on the floor, and was all, “Geez, were you in some kind of hurry going to work today?

She didn’t know what he was talking about.  Obviously, given her orderliness obsession, no clothes were ever left out, nor were doors left ajar, nor was anything ever left out of place.  He went on describing the disorder in the house, thinking Jenn had some kind of fit before leaving that morning. 

Jenn was becoming more and more agitated, knowing that she’d left everything all buttoned up, as per usual.  Then the BoyToy got to the back door, which was smashed in.

(Note: holy shit, this is weird… the Warren Zevon song “Disorder in the House” just came on my PC music shuffle, right after typing that phrase 2 paragraphs ago.  Whoa…)

Jenn was eventually able to fight through the bumper-to-bumper traffic and screech into the driveway, and survey the damage for herself.

They took so much stuff… Every drawer had been emptied.  They’d even gone through her files.  They took her PC and laptop, (with a life’s worth of pictures on them), their Sony Playstation and games, all her jewelry.  They went through all her clothes!  They took the BoyToy’s authentic Ravens jerseys.  They stole 2 half-full bottles of vodka.  The TVs weren’t taken but they figure it was only because they didn’t fit into the bags they used to carry the shit out.  They also somehow missed a stack of cash that was sitting out on the microwave.

Never one to miss out on making a scene, she told me she ran out of the house to where the BoyToy was talking with the neighbors, collapsed onto her knees and began wailing into her hands.  Gotta give her style points on that.

When the police finally showed up, they were asking her what was done in the house.  She was like, “Look around.  Anything that’s on the floor, they did.  This place was immaculate when I left this morning.”

Sometimes having OCD tendencies pays off.  Jenn was able to provide the police with 8 pages worth of items she knew to be missing.  They were amazed that not only did she provide such a detailed list, but that the list omitted any mention of cash.  They said everyone says they lost cash.

But that’s not Jenn.  She would never do anything like that; her guilt would not allow her to do such a thing.  And she also said that she feared the Karma of lying about something like that.

The Karma here is the rub.  While we ate, she agonized over why such a thing happened to her.  She didn’t live in a crime-riddled area.  The cops said they rarely saw such a thing in her neighborhood.  Was it someone they knew?  An unforeseen guest that had been there for a party? 

Why her?  What had she done in the past that she was being punished for?  Was it stealing that roll of nickels from a friend in grade school?  Or walking off with someone else’s clothes at school?

Naturally, I said it was because she was a Ravens fan.

Nah, just kidding… I did say that whatever she’d done as a kid, she’d more than paid for with the 20-odd car accidents she’d had.  For this, I don’t have any answers.  Sometimes shit just happens.  Bad shit happens to good people.  What can you do?  Life isn’t fair sometimes.

It kills me so see such things happen to a dear friend.  I mean, look at her picture above.  Hurting Jenn is like stomping on kittens.  It’s mean, it’s cruel and it’s just not right.

Whoever had robbed the place knew what they were doing.  They wiped down everything they touched and probably wore gloves as well.  There were no fingerprints left anywhere.  There was, however, a ton of synthetic fingerprint dust all over everything, and the problem there is that when you try to get it out of all the clothes you’re washing, it doesn’t come out.  It just stains the washing machine and comes off on everything else you wash.

It’s enough to bring your average OCD chick to her knees all over again.

All I can say now is that whatever Karmic debt she had, it’s paid in full.  Or more likely, it’s a sign that things are going to soon get better, to balance out this obscenity.

No one’s luck can stay that bad, can it?

My advice is to never again wear whatever she wore that morning.  It’s obviously bad mojo. 

Instead, I recommend a nice Steelers jersey.  It’s on me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Darwinfish 2 Presents...

I’ve always loved standup comedy, probably stemming from the first time I ever heard a Bill Cosby record.  I remember when I was 4 and I got my tonsils out, my parents got me one of his records that had a long bit about tonsillectomies.  I used to laugh my little butt off, even if I didn’t quite get all the jokes.  I still have fond memories of all those old, old Cosby routines… Fat Albert, playing football against Hofstra, Kindergarten, seeing scary movies, the Chicken Heart, Noah and God, and the Great Go-Kart race down Dead Man’s Hill.  Classics all.

As cable TV grew and developed, and the premium channels like HBO and Showtime became the new home for standup comedy, standup began to permeate the medium.  Most of the time, I was too poor to be able to afford HBO, so my dad used to be the gatekeeper.  He’d monitor the comedy specials and record anything that looked promising.  Then he’d either show it to us when we visited or he’d dub off copies to distribute to his impoverished children.

Aside from the George Carlin specials, that we all knew were going to be golden, he always kept an eye out for new talent.  HBO’s Young Comedian series was always good for that, plus the Rodney Dangerfield specials.

One of his biggest finds was Sam Kinison, from 9th Young Comedians special.  Sam was a game changer.  There was so much anticipation surrounding his first album and then his first solo HBO special.  We must have watched and listened to those a zillion times.  And as you may remember, I got to tell Sam that myself when he did an in-store appearance at one of our record stores.

Sam led to Andrew “Dice” Clay, who had a much shorter shelf life.  I mentioned the late Robert Schimmel, back when he died last month, but he was another find.  The late Richard Jeni was also hilarious.

One of my favorite Dad “finds” was the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly.  He was a huge star in Europe but completely unknown here.  Whoopee Goldberg did an HBO special where she did the first half hour and then “presented” Connolly to do the last half.

Honest to God, we still quote lines from that special when we get together.  I know a lot of comics do this, but he did a bit on flying that to me is the gold standard.  Part of it is in this clip below:

I swear, I watered my eyes laughing playing this clip just now.  Trust me… play it.  You won’t be sorry.  (Unless you’re at work, in which case it could get you fired.  If you like this bit, you can dig up the rest of the act on YouTube; just look for Billy Connolly 1990, in 4 parts.)

For a short time, I was able to afford Showtime, so I could also be on the lookout for new acts.  Showtime was trying to compete with HBO so they, too, had “new comedian” specials.  Bobby Slayton, the “Pitbull of Comedy” was one good find.  Another was Tim Allen, who unveiled his “Men are Pigs” shtick that eventually landed him his sitcom “Home Improvement.” 

My biggest “find” was probably Denis Leary.  I had never heard of him, but my boss (when I worked for the home office of my music store company) got this promotional video of Denis doing these 30-second promo bits for MTV.  Picture a half dozen guys crowned around a 19-inch TV in a glass-walled office, screaming with laughter, and that was us.  Most of the bits from that promo reel were included in Leary’s breakout work, the concert movie “No Cure for Cancer.”  I couldn’t wait to get a copy of that to Dad. 

Denis Leary on “Drugs and NyQuil”
“The box says ‘may cause drowsiness.’  It should say don’t make any fuckin’ plans…”

OK, I know I’m taking the long way around, but I’m now approaching my main point.

Comedy is meant to be shared.  It’s one thing to laugh your head off alone, but to me it just doesn’t count until you can get someone else in on the joke.  We need people to laugh with us, to get the full effect.

I’ve been reading a particular blog for a while and it is hands down, the most consistently funny blog I’ve ever read.  Each new post leaves my cheeks wet and my stomach hurting because it’s that funny.  You may already read it, you may already have it on your blogroll like I do, hell, you may have been the one that led me to it.  I don’t know the writer and she doesn’t need me to promote her blog.  She gets more comments on one post than I do in an entire year.  But laughing alone is no fun; laughter needs to be shared.

I’m talking about Hyperbole and a Half, written by Allie Brosh. 

For the most part, Allie tells stories from her childhood using her own computer illustrations.  It’s like “The Wonder Years” on peyote.  While she clearly has the ability to make very good, detailed pictures, her style is intentionally primitive… kind of like when South Park first started.  The primitiveness is part of the charm.  This is how she draws her young self:

It’s kind of like a thumb in a pink turtleneck dress, googly eyes and a blond shark-fin for a ponytail.

She posted yesterday about how she was a cake-eating sugar fiend when she was 4.

The prior post was about trying to convince her mom to let her go to a friend’s birthday party, immediately after major dental surgery.  She figured if she could run across the park, she’d be fit to go.  Sadly, with all the Novocain, she couldn’t get her mom to understand what she wanted to go the park.

Both of these posts had me laughing out loud.  Between the drawings that are so expressive, and the understated prose, and the unbelievable stories, it’s simply comedy at its most pure.  And I have to make sure that everyone I know has a chance to get a couple of bellylaughs out of it.

If you like these two posts, check out her “Best of” posts on the right side of her page.  Her story about “How a Fish Almost Destroyed my Childhood,” is one of my favorites.

Lastly, because I’m now a full-fledged Twitterer, I saw a tweet from Allie, saying that she made a video.  It was also hilarious.  It’s nothing like the blog stories.  In fact, it’s just her on camera, alone with a coat.  (The “Cautionary Interludes” are brilliant!)
So, not only does she write and draw, she’s a master at physical comedy.

Ladies and gentlemen, please take the time to discover the beautiful genius of Allie Brosh and “Hyperbole and a Half.”