Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog Fail

Long day today… I just got home about 9:00.  We had a work thing where I had to stay late and make some calls.  We do this twice a year but it always seems like we just did it last week.

Anyway, I wanted to do a post tonight, but I’m just not up to it.  Instead, I’m posting this video my sister sent me over the weekend.  It’s both hilarious and short; demanding only 47 seconds of your life.  It’s not safe for work or small children, unless you want either exposed to numerous variations of the F-word.

In case it's not clear, the voice-over is supposed to indicate what the cat's thinking.

I’ll be back tomorrow with something more bluz-like.  Or maybe if this kills, I'll just post cat videos from now on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Party Like It's 1979

Thus far, it’s been a grand Thanksgiving Weekend.  My parents were in town from Florida so we all had Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s.  Big news of the week: Nephew Sammy (5) farted in Sunday School.

Bluz Mother: Tell Uncle Bluz what you did in Sunday School.

Sammy:  I busted one.

Bluz:  What did the other kids say?

Sammy:  Niiiiice.

Personally, I can’t think of a better place for a 5-year old to bust one.  Judging from his customary reactions to his own bodily emissions, he probably did a touchdown dance afterwards.  I’m sure they’ll be keeping an eye on that one for a while.

Yesterday, not only did Ohio State beat hated rival Michigan (with my brother and dad in attendance), the Penguins also won, so that sets up another perfect Monday, where the Buckeye, the Penguins and the Steelers all win, if indeed the Steelers get by Buffalo this afternoon.  More on that later.

Party Tahn
But so far, the weekend highlight was Sitcom Kelly’s party.  She moved into a new house over a year ago but this was still the first time I’d been able to get out to see the place.  You may recall that she’d scheduled some parties last February, both of which coincided with massive snowstorms, leaving her party guests limited to her and her cats.  We made this into an episode idea for our sitcom, where as she’s determined to have the party at all costs, we see her sitting in the living room surrounded by her cats, spooning ziti right out of the pan.  After that there is Wii Bowling, were she plays against Pens defenseman Kris Letang, who is still in her basement Pit.

Sitcom Kelly: It’s your turn.  I’ll bowl for you…  You got a strike.

So, with no snowstorms, hurricanes, hail, locusts or power grid blackouts on the horizon, she was finally able to throw the party she’s been planning all this time.

I was most interested to see how the Pride of Johnstown PA would be able to settle into an actual house, here in the year 2010.  I made sure I showed up early (meaning right on time) so that I’d have a chance to take some pictures without a lot of commotion.

Right off the bat, I found something photo-worthy:
One bowl away from Crazy Cat Lady status.

My first order of business was to locate the basement; Ground Zero for kidnapped Pittsburgh athletes.  To my disappointment, she doesn’t actually have The Pit dug yet.  But here’s what she does have:
She’s going to have her work cut out for her, not just moving all the junk, but getting through the concrete floor.

There was so much going on down there… There was the room-mate’s treadmill that looked like the bridge of a small yacht.  The giant exercise ball that still has the brand new sheen on it… The Crock Pot, which one of the party guests said should actually be referred to as a Slow Cooker, because only white trash has Crock Pots.  Naturally, my first impulse was to go buy a Crock Pot, just to thumb my nose at the snooty types that would make such judgments.

I actually liked the “Johnstown” print on the wall; it sort of functioned as a headline for the whole room.

Back upstairs, I noticed that she had a room divider cordoning off one corner of the dining room.  Naturally, I had to see what was behind it.  I was not disappointed.
Who else not only has a flat screen TV with DirectTV and a CD player, but also an actual record player (not pictured) and an 8-Track player?  Maybe it really IS 1979.

The next thing I had to do was verify that the “snacks” were not, in fact, cat food.
False alarm, it was just cinnamon dusted trail mix.  (It was good, too!)

Lastly, I looked forward to see the famous ziti come out of the oven.
Letang, Matt Bahr, and Sidney Crosby will be pleased with their special entrée.

So the party went along fine.  I got to meet Sitcom Mom, Sitcom Sister, and Sitcom Brother-in-Law.  All were very nice and had the added bonus of explaining a great deal about Sitcom Kelly.  Apple… Tree… Not far.

Apparently, they’ve actually read about Sitcom Kelly’s exploits as documented here, which cracks me up.  And they’ve seen the Sitcom Episode Idea document as well.  I’m sure they wonder where they’ve went wrong.

All seemed happy that I’ve recently seen fit to add “Sitcom Kelly” as blog label, although none are as happy as Sitcom Kelly herself.  I’ve been trying to get her to start her own blog for a while now, but the prospects are looking grim.  She’s much happier having me write about her unusual life instead.  It’s much less trouble for her this way, and leaves her with more time to plan the next kidnapping.

Sitcom Mom also gave me some more insight about one of the stories I’ve mentioned before.  Remember when I wrote about how a young Sitcom Kelly had a thing for Steelers kicker Matt Bahr, and even hand-made a sign for him?  Sitcom Mom told me she actually had the opportunity to wave it in front of his face, with her phone number written on it!  No word on whether it was written in glitter.

Matty, apparently, didn’t bite.  He said she should keep it, but he would sign it for her.  Little did he know how close he came to spending the rest of his life clawing at sheer dirt walls.

It wasn’t until most everyone left that Sitcom Kelly let the cats out of the bedroom.  They seemed very happy to attend and were on their best behavior.
Sammy (left) and Nigel.  These two are brothers.  I swear, the way they’re perched on those chairs like they were guests of honor, if we had party hats for them, it would have been a scene right out of the Sitcom.

This is Bo, the perpetual odd cat out.

Poor Bo has been walking with a limp lately.  I suggested that he only does that when people are around.  In fact, I likened it to the end of The Usual Suspects, where once the guy is out of sight from the police station, the limp he’s had throughout the entire movie gradually disappears and you realize he’s been the Bad Guy all along.  Naturally, I suggested that the cat’s name isn’t even Bo, it’s Keyser Pusé.

OK, I’m not sure if that’s really funny, but Sitcom Kelly and I laughed at that for 5 solid minutes last night.  But then we were both drunk.  Oh, and I apologize for ruining The Usual Suspects, if you’ve never seen it.  (Serves you right, if you haven’t.  Movie freakin’ rocked.)

The Mojo Boogie
OK, Steelers/Bills game today… Steelers are at Buffalo so they’ll be wearing white.  Last time the Steelers wore white AND I watched the game at home (against the Bengals), I wore my Troy Polamalu #43, with white Steelers sweats and a white long-sleeve tee underneath, and they won. 

I admit I’m bucking my “different thing every game” approach, but I’m right out of other white jerseys where we haven’t already lost when I was wearing them.  The Steelers are favorites over the Bills, so this is my way of engineering the mojo back into a usable pattern.  We’ll see what happens.
This is the same picture I used for the Bengals game, so Judie, you can feel comfortable that the socks in this picture are 3 wearings cleaner than what I’m actually wearing today.

To make up for working on Black Friday, I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll see you crazy kids around!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Story (Or: DON'T Pass the Mushrooms!)

Last year, it appears I never really acknowledged Thanksgiving.  But if I had, I would have told this story.

One thing about having friends for a really long time is that you have ball-busting material that goes back decades… IF you can remember it all, that is.  This story goes back to the Thanksgiving after my buddies and I graduated high school, so you’ll have to forgive me if some of the details escape me.  (Actually, that may help shorten the post, so you’ll probably thank me.)  This is one of those stories where you hope you’re going to have one kind of day but it turns out to be one CF after another.

So it’s Thanksgiving morning, 1979, and I get a call from my buddy John.  Seems he beached his Camaro on a big sand berm on the side of one of our country roads.  He needed some help dislodging the car and wanted us to come out with our Jaundice, our big Jeep Wagoneer, and pull him out.

I have no recollection of how the Camaro got up there, or where John was coming from, but I’m fairly certain he was up to no good.  That’s just how we rolled back then.

My buddy Rik and I took off and found him a couple miles away.  The car was perched up on the undercarriage, with the back wheels in the air.  It wouldn’t be a problem to attach the chain and yank the car off the berm.  As we started fiddling about to get everything hooked up, John started swearing.  Seems he just locked his keys in the car.  Or maybe that was us swearing.

Not being versed in breaking and entering a car; we decided to track down his 2nd set of keys.  They happened to be with John’s dad, who was having Thanksgiving dinner with his side of the family, somewhere in Toledo.  So off we went, into the urban jungle that is Toledo Ohio.

We found the place easily enough and John was in and out in no time, keys in hand.  We started back to the original scene, when just as I was about to pull onto the interstate, there was a big *BANG* from under the hood, followed by a great deal of racket thereafter. 

Shit!  Now what?

Luckily, I had Rik and John in the car, both of whom knew their way around under a hood.  Me?  I know the big holes where the oil and washer fluid go, but not much else, so I let them dig in. 

Rik immediately burned his hand on one of the hot parts.  More fevered profanity ensued.  Then it started raining.

Come to think of it, the only two times I’ve been in the car with these guys and there was car trouble, it started raining.  This was the other time.

Eventually they figured out that one of the spark plug thingies (the technical term) popped out.  They popped it back in and we were moving again.  We got back to the beached Camaro and pulled it off the berm with relative ease.  It was mid-afternoon by this time, so we headed back to my house to enjoy a little Thanksgiving.

Immediately, Dad set us up with some Jack on the rocks and we told him of our adventures.  (And that he’d better have those spark plug thingies checked out.)  Mom, who was in the midst of creating a stellar Thanksgiving Feast, sent out a plate of stuffed mushrooms.
Not a photo of our actual mushrooms, but these look close.

Oh, they were fantastic… big mushroom caps stuffed with sausage, the ground mushroom stumps and assorted seasonings.  Naturally they were a big hit… at least at first. 

As we passed the plate around the room, Rik went to put them back on the coffee table, and, well, missed.  He set the plate half on and half off and it promptly toppled right over onto the floor.

You should have seen us dive down there to retrieve the mushrooms.  It was like a fumble on the goal line… nothing but bodies flying and rooting around on the ground.

What, you think we weren’t still going to eat them?  We were 18-year old guys.  We didn’t care that they hit the carpet.  He could have dumped those mushrooms onto a pile of nuclear waste and we’d still try to pick out at least the big chunks of plutonium before we resumed munching.

So we get all the shrooms put back on the plate and Rik goes to put the plate back and he does the same goddamed thing again!

Mushrooms go rolling all over the floor and we go chasing after them again, thus ensuring that the subject of mushrooms will never, ever come up again, without one of us piping up, “Just make sure you don’t pass them to Rik!

Yes, we still ate the mushrooms.  But we knew not to pass Rik the turkey that day.

The Follow-up
I don’t know if this happened on the same day, or at another holiday gathering at our house, but it fits together.

My mom used to make pizzelles for the holiday every year.  If you’re Italian, you know what I’m talking about.  If not, pizzelles are thin, waffle-type cookies made with a pizzelle iron. 
These are pizzelles.

They’re usually flavored with anise, so they taste mildly of licorice.  They are often served after dinner, to dunk in your coffee or wine.  But for this batch, Mom also made some with cocoa added, which turned them brown and gave a nice hint of chocolate.

So as we all snarfed down the plate of pizzelles, Rik pipes up, “These are really good, Mrs. Dude, even the burnt ones.”

So for the last 30 years, any time we hand Rik a chocolate cookie, we can’t help but add, “We know how you like the ‘burnt ones.’”

So as you gather today for your Thanksgiving celebration, aside from giving thanks for your family, your health and relative well-being, be sure to give thanks for old friends.  Without them, who else would remind you of the stupid shit you did when you were a kid?  And who would, in turn, tell you to shut your pie hole and pass the mushrooms?
John, me, and Rik in 2008, being thankful for beer.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my friend.  May your legs be plentiful, your thighs be juicy, your breasts swell pleasingly and you get all the stuffing you could want.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Doin' The I-Pod Shuffle

I don’t actually have an “I-Pod,” but I do have a 30 Gig MP3 player.  “Doin’ the MP3-Player Shuffle" doesn’t have nearly the same “ring” to it.

I love my MP3… I take it with me to work every day.  It’s invaluable to me on the subway, so not only do I get to hear my tunes, I don’t have to listen to people yapping on their goddamned cell phones first thing in the morning.  Then at work, I plug it into a pair of desktop speakers and I have my music for the day.  I always play it in “shuffle” mode, so that all files come up randomly.  I currently have 3312 “files” on my MP3… that’s songs, comedy bits, movie sound bytes and assorted Myron Cope-isms.

So when I saw Uncle Crappy’s post last Sunday, writing about the 1st 25 songs that came up on his I-Pod shuffle, I knew that was a great idea to steal I could pay tribute to him by doing likewise.  So here goes:

(All links go to Amazon.com, where you can click to hear a snippet of the song for free, or download it for a buck.)

Anytown USA,” George Thorogood, The Hard Stuff.  Whew, right out of the gate, good-rockin’ George.  I always say, if cavemen could rock and roll, they’d play George Thorogood.  This is a cut from one of his more recent (and overlooked) CDs.  No matter.  I buy every disc he puts out, because there’s guaranteed to be at least 1 or 2 killer songs.  Hmm, maybe I should start downloading more.

Rattlesnake Rock N’ Roller” (live), Blackfoot, King Biscuit Flower Hour.  My beloved southern rockers… Blackfoot is way underrated.  Every album they put out kicked ass, at least until they started fiddling with their lineup.

Tiny Dancer,” Elton John, Madman Across the Water.  Sigh.  Thus is the problem with the shuffle setting.  If I were making a mix tape, I’d never follow Blackfoot with Elton John, unless it was “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”  Still, this is a great song.  When I hear it now, I always think of how they sang it on the tour bus in the movie “Almost Famous.”

High Time We Went,” Lou Ann Barton, Read My Lips.  Lou Ann Barton is a Texas roadhouse singer that had a brief hay-day in the 70s.  She also sang with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan.  Here, she’s covering the Joe Cocker song.

Moving,” George Thorogood, The Hard Stuff.  Wow… George again, from the same album.  Way to show off my depth of field, there, MP3 player…
“What?  Me again?

Dancing in the Dark,” Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA.  One of Bruce’s catchiest, if not deepest.  I always think of the hot chick he danced with in the MTV video, who grew up to be Courteney Cox.  I saw Bruce play the Pontiac Silverdome on this tour in 1985; one of the best concerts I ever saw.

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Cyndi Lauper, The Body Acoustic.  This was a disc where she remade all her old songs.  This one sounds like the original, crossed with Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot.”

“TNT” (live), AC/DC, Live at Donnington.  Good… I was worried that even though I probably have hundreds of AC/DC tracks on my MP3, one might not show up for this exercise.  TNT would be one of my “coming up to bat” tracks… “Oi…Oi…Oi…”  Although given that I live in such a predominately Jewish neighborhood, maybe that should be “Oy…Oy…Oy…”

“People, News and Views,” Bob & Tom, Back in ’98.  From the syndicated radio show.   Here, they have a Larry King impersonator call in and spout some random crap, like Larry does.  “I could be wrong, but if a baboon’s red ass doesn’t put a smile on your face, check your pulse.”

Backlash,” Joan Jett, Notorious.  My Queen makes an appearance.  Notorious was a little-known album from 1990 or so that was too good to have sold so little.  “Don’t Surrender” was a killer song that should have been a huge hit.

I Won’t Back Down,” Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever.  I’m generally kind of “meh” on TP, but I had this promo Greatest Hits CD, so what the heck, I ripped a few songs.  “Breakdown” is still my favorite Petty song.  Plus “Spike,” from his live album.

Sound byte from South Park, with the “handi-capable” "Jimmy" character saying something so incorrect that I don’t dare type it here.  Again, it’s the Forrest Gump effect… you never know what you’re gonna get.

Haircut,” George Thorogood, Get a Haircut.  Man…  George times 3.  At least it’s a different album this time.

Hello Again,” The Cars, Complete Greatest Hits.  The Cars were a staple of my college years.  This one wasn’t my favorite, as by this point, I thought they were getting a little too synthetic and drum-machiney. 

Stand On It,” Bruce Springsteen, Tracks.  Oh, I love this song.  It’s an old 50s-style rocker that was a B-side to one of the Born in the USA singles.  Short, fast and bouncy, with Professor Roy rockin a killer piano.

“I Got the Fire,” Henry Lee Summer, Way Past Midnight.  HLS was kind of a one-hit wonder from the 80s.  This was from his album after the one that had the one hit.  We had a promo cassette in the store and I nabbed it because of this song.  And it wasn’t until I bought that LP/Cassette unit that I could plug into my PC that I could get an electronic version for my MP3. 

Ain’t Nobody Home,” BB King, 80.  Recent disc from BB mostly made up of duets.  This one is with Daryl Hall.  I like the one he did with ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons better.

“Hot Monster,” Young Frankenstein Soundtrack, (movie sound byte)  “You little zipperneck… All right… “7” has always been my lucky number.  Come over here, you hot monster.”  I miss Madeline Kahn.
"You better keep your mouth SHUT!  Oh, I think I love him!"

Something About You,” Boston, Boston.  Solid album track.  In fact, on this album, there are no bad cuts.  Boston’s first album still holds up.  The production sparkles, even by today’s standards, though it was made in the mid-70s. 

You’re Humbuggin’ Me, Johnny Winter, Let Me In.  Typical Johnny Winter… a few unintelligible verses, then 5 bars of guitar solo.

The Full Bug,” Van Halen, Diver Down.  Deep album cut I only included because the day I ripped the CD, I was too lazy to edit the tracks.  Historical note: Diver Down was my first VH album.  I never particularly cared for them, but then I heard their version of “Pretty Woman” (with the killer intro “Intruder”) and I was hooked. 

You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” The Cars, The Cars.  Pop perfection, just like most of the songs on The Cars debut album.  No clunkers there either.

Barbara Ann,” Beach Boys, Summer Beach Party.  The Beach Boys cut this album in a studio with a bunch of friends, like it was a party.  There’s no production value and the singing is raggedy but fun.  We used to sing to this at every Barn Party.  Once we even made a recording of us singing with the record and sent it to a friend like it was all us.  (Long story.)  Anyway, it was fun.

A Little Meat on the Side,” Katie Webster, No Foolin’.  One from the Swamp Boogie Queen, featuring some rollin’ blues boogie.  “A woman can’t live on bread alone/ she gotta have a little meat on the side.”   

OK, one more…

“Sin City” (live), AC/DC, Bonfire.  Great!  A rousing finish… live AC/DC from their box set, performing on Australian TV in the 70s.  RIP, Bon Scott.  You were a beast.
Though not the one that just came up, this is my favorite version of my favorite AC/DC song.

Whew… at least I avoided the Abba mmmmphhh! (hand clamping over mouth…)  All old stuff though… honestly… I DO have at least a couple things from post year-2000.  See?  Look… my new “Best of Gary Hoey” CD just arrived today.  (Thank you Unapologetically Mundane, for the recommendation.)  I should have ripped and loaded before this exercise.  Maybe next time…

Thanks again to Uncle Crappy for the inspiration!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Weekend Bidness

There’s a great article about Sidney Crosby in the latest Pittsburgh Magazine.  In it, there’s a story about Sid staying long after practice to help defenseman, Kris Letang, work on his shot from the point.  It pays off the next game when Letang bangs in the game winner in overtime.  The article intimates that Sid is Letang’s best friend.

I immediately had to send the link over to Sitcom Kelly, because once she captures Kris and puts him in her basement Pit, Sid may come looking for him.  I suggested she prepare another Pit just in case.

I think all this Pit talk is getting to Sitcom Kelly… she recently had a dream that she was out somewhere and Letang has “his people” watching her.  She had to explain that it’s all a joke and the she really didn’t have the energy/enthusiasm/attention span to keep anyone in a Pit.  She was happy, though, that she got to meet him (in the dream).

I told her that’s how the madness starts.  She starts dreaming about him and The Pit, and next thing you know; she can’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s a joke.

I wonder what her co-workers will think when she starts showing up with dirt in her hair.

The Mojo Boogie
Today’s game gear was based on the Steelers opponent, the Oakland Raiders.  It’s opposite the Ratbirds game so it won’t be on TV, so I had to go to Jilly’s, my local sports bar.

In years gone by, coughthe70scough, the Raiders were mortal enemies.  The years weren’t kind to the Raiders as they spent far more years sucking than being competitive.  Then last year, they came back and stuck it too us good, right there in Pittsburgh, scoring 3 TDs in the 4th quarter.

It’s time to break out the hate so I rocked the 1975-era Jack Lambert throwback, complete with Super Bowl X patch. 

This was a bit of a risk for me because for the 3 games I’ve already seen at the sports bar, I’ve worn Steelers polo shirts and they’ve won.  But what I’m learning this season is that there is no consistent mojo tied to one shirt.  Note that I never wore the same polo twice.  I went way out this time just by wearing a jersey at all.  But in a nod to consistency, I did wear one particular hat each time, so I wore it again today.

And the result of all that scheming?  Steelers crush the Raiders 35-3, in the most uncomfortable romp I’ve seen in ages.

Why uncomfortable?  The fucking penalties!  Now, I’m not usually one to complain about the refs… that’s what losers do.  But Jesus Christ!  The Steelers had 14 penalties for 163 yard, including a punt return and interception return for touchdowns called back, versus 7 penalties for the Raiders for 55 yards.

Some of the calls were legit, for example Willie Gay holding THE KICKER on the punt return.  But so many of the others were total phantoms.  And if they are going to call holding that closely, it has to be for BOTH teams.  I refuse to believe that the Raiders, who have had the worst reputation this side of the Ratbirds for the last 40 years, played it all that clean.  Half of the calls against the Raiders came late in the game, during garbage time.  None were particularly meaningful.

But enough about the calls.  The Steelers rocked the house, and the Raiders.  I had to shout down one idiot Ravens fan, who after seeing a scrum on the field, started bellyaching about how it must be those cheap-shot Steelers.

The replay showed then showed how after a TD pass, QB Ben Roethlisberger ran by D-lineman Richard Seymour and got totally jacked upside the head, 15 seconds after the play was over.  It looked to me like Ben was trying to get around him… maybe he said something, but then Seymour whirled around and just palm-heeled him right up under the mask.
I went apeshit in the bar… “Oh yeah, what a thug.  Ben totally beat that guy’s hand with his jaw.  What a low-life…”  I went on with some more choice observations, loudly, but I don’t really remember the rest.  I can tell you that I didn’t hear a peep out of that Rattie jagoff for the rest of the game.  Typical.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happiness Is...

Waking up the morning after your team won a game.

*  Waking up on Monday morning after your hockey, pro football and college football teams all won over the weekend.

*  Having just done the laundry and grocery shopping, because it means you now have the widest available set of options.

*  Having a big occasion to which you can look forward… a vacation trip, a visit from far off friends or family, a wild party…

*  Seeing that you have more money in your checking account after you’ve paid your bills, than you did at this time last month.

*  When your kids (or in my case, someone else’s kids) look happy to see you when you show up.

*  Going online and seeing that there is a new Hyperbole and a Half post.

*  Getting onto the elevator going down on Friday at 5:00, knowing you have 2 glorious days to do whatever you want.  (Like watching movies, sports and fiddling about on the Internet.)

*  Any time the Steelers win and the Ravens lose.  This is especially true when it’s the same game.

*  Getting to pet/hug/adore a golden retriever.

*  Writing a blog post that you know is going to kill.

*  Then having it actually kill.

*  Your bacon cheeseburger arrives and it’s even bigger and better than you anticipated.

*  Same goes for fish sandwiches.  And pizza.

*  When you finally fix something you’ve been putting off fixing and it actually works.

*  Seeing that the guy that the cops have pulled over is the same douche that cut you off earlier.

*  When someone gets my obscure movie, pop culture and/or Monty Python references.

*  Waking up with a chill in the room and you’re all warm under the covers, without it being 6:00 am and you have to get up for work.

*  That moment at a concert where the lights finally go down and the band comes out.

*  Any time one of those politicians known for railing against gays and those lacking sufficient “family values” gets caught with his pants down and his cock out.

*  You go into the break room at work and find leftover cookies from someone else’s meeting.

*  Seeing one of your Tweets get re-tweeted.

*  You get to the game and your seats are better than you expected.

*  Being able to help a friend.

*  Meeting someone famous and seeing that they’re not an asshole.

*  The moment you realize that you are done with your Christmas shopping.

*  Making someone laugh.

*  Sunshine on a clear fall day.

Ultimately, it’s like Norman Nardini sings, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

Although I hope there’s an “out” there for a guy that lives in a sunken, ground floor apartment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What? Odd Bits Again?

Sorry… still too many tidbits rolling around in my cranium and nothing close to a coherent front to back post. 

Office Bluz
I work in a building that has a number of floors that have all been remodeled with the same design, so the layout between floors is very similar.  So it occurred to me today that every time I visit a nearby floor, it’s like going to some parallel universe.  Everything looks alllllmost the same but there are tiny differences… Extra file cabinet here, a cubby hole there, different stuff on the outside of the cube walls.  It’s eerie.

A couple months ago I got off the elevator on the wrong floor by accident and went walking in the direction of “my cube” and was all, “OMG, they put in a new row of cabinets!  Hey, where’s my bulletin board?”

Then, of course, I realized I was on the floor immediately below mine and hurriedly slunk off up the stairs, hoping that no one had spotted the intruder.  I was scared shitless that I’d spy someone that almost looked like me working in my doppelganger cube.

And what if, in the parallel universe, he was a Ratbirds fan?

I’d have no choice but to stalk and kill the Anti-Bluz.  If you kill your Alternate Universe Self, is that suicide or fratricide?  Wait, if it’s a Ravens fan, it’s Ratricide.

Mojo Fallin
It’s 9 games into the season and I just realized I’ve neglected to don one of my customary mojo devices.  I have one of those clip-on badge holders with a retractable string, with a Steelers logo on it.  I totally forgot to swap it out with my off-season badge clip.

Now with our record at 6-3 and coming off a big loss to the Patriots, do I think we’d have done better if I had the badge clip?  Or is it really bad mojo and we’d have been much worse if I had been wearing it?

I guess we’ll find out this Sunday.  I put the badge clip on, on Monday.  If we lose to the Raiders, I may have my answer.

In my post before the election, I mentioned how the insurance companies were bankrolling Republican candidates with the goal of stripping the consumer protections from the Health Care Reform bill, while leaving the mandate that everyone buys health insurance.

This strategy was reiterated in a Newsweek article I read today, written by an insurance company insider named Wendell Potter.  He had worked on Insurance Industry public relations and strategy campaigns throughout this and previous elections. 

Congratulations, Teabaggers.  The ass-clowns you just sent to Washington to restore your “Liberty” regarding health care are going to try to do just the opposite of what you want… continue the government mandate while eliminating the ban on the insurance companies raising your rates if you have a pre-existing condition, or dropping you all together.

Fuck-ton of money going in; all new ways to keep from paying any money back out, lots of people up shit creek with staggering medical bills.  Happy now?  Now who do you think is going to go to bat for you?  Fox “News?”  The only thing they’re going to do is invent some other “outrage” to switch your attention elsewhere.

Christmas Crazy
Sometimes I have to wonder just what the hell is wrong with people.

My friend Michelle from Burgh Baby had a post today that was quite upsetting.  This year she is doing her second annual “Christmas Crazy” fund-raiser to provide Christmas presents to kids that would otherwise have none.  These are kids at a Pittsburgh-area domestic violence shelter.  Her post on November 2nd told a personal story about why this is such an important story to her.  I know when I read it, I had to kick in some cash.  If you read it, you will too.

Anyway, in her post today, she wrote about how PayPal is all up in her business making her prove that this is a legitimate charity.  You know, as if last year’s numerous blog posts and pictures of busses stuffed with toys weren’t enough.

Either someone sent in a complaint to PayPal, or they were doing some kind of investigation on their own to root out fraud.  If it’s the former, it makes my head explode that someone would be such a fucktard (the technical term)… probably someone jealous of someone doing something that’s truly selfless.

If it were a routine PayPal investigation, I’d have to think again about using them for anything.  It would take about 45-seconds of research to confirm that this is a legitimate endeavor that will benefit hundreds of kids.  To refuse to do even a token search, and instead force Michelle to provide all kinds of documentation… receipts, bank records, etc… that’s just ridiculous.  The arrogance of the whole thing got me so angry I offered to plaster the PayPal executives with email containing terminology so crass and depraved, Samuel L. Jackson would start hitting me up for tips.  They’d have no choice but to give her a pass.

Because she’s a quality human being, she waved me off.  So instead I’m going to kick in another $20. 

You should too.  I’m putting her button up on the side.  Or click here or the button to donate. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Odd Bits - The Skippy Skeeve Edition

I don’t really have any fully formed thoughts today, so it’s time for another refreshing “Odd Bits” post.

I took yesterday off… I have a number of untaken vacation days left so I scheduled off most of the week after Christmas, and one day off a week for the rest of the year.  Commence the 4-day workweek!  But it’s always good to take the day off after the Steelers play a night game.  (Especially such an aggravating one.)

Game day mojo did NOT help any this week.  The Harrison throwback jersey won’t see the light of day again this year.  But I can’t say I wasn’t surprised.  Even in my weekly picks, I picked the Pats over the Steelers.  Brady owns us, that’s all I can say.

I also noticed over the weekend that the NFL formally apologized to the Steelers for 2 penalty calls made against them in the Bengals game.  The two calls came on a Bengals drive that led to a TD during their 4th quarter comeback last week.  If the Steelers hadn’t held them off for the win, there would have been a lot more fuss, I’m sure.  But it’s like I’ve been saying, quality teams don’t let bad calls beat them.

Speaking of, the Ratbird fans are still crying about a non-call of offensive pass interference in the game they lost against the Falcons.  Not that I’m surprised or anything.  I mean it DID come on the game-winning TD pass, but still.  They could have put the game away any time prior to that with a couple of defensive stops.  Instead the Falcons went 80 yards in 40 seconds on the Big Bad Super-Scary Chest-Beating Ravens Defense.

There was no forthcoming apology from the league, though, about the non-call, so one can only conclude that it was correct.  Except around here, it’s just more “proof” that the league is out to “get” the Ravens.

Out and About
So with my free Monday, I went out to do some errands, starting with a haircut.  I’ve posted about my semi-annual appointments at the fabled Hair Cuttery.  Last time I got sheared by a Russian Stylista who, rather than doing what I asked her to do, made me look good instead.  Sadly she wasn’t there this time so I had to explain to this other lady, “Do what Irina did.”  In other words, break out the clippers and don’t take no prisoners.

You know, when you look in the mirror and you usually can’t see any hair without the use of multiple mirrors, you tend to forget about what it looks like back there.  So it’s always kind of jarring when these tufts of hair start to appear on your cape that appear to have been left by a shedding calico cat.

How come no one told me there was so much gray back there.  What, you think I knew?

Good thing it just makes us men look all distinguished.

Next up was a trip to Wal-Mart for some supplies.  I used to fret and feel guilty about going to Wally’s, but ever since Target donated that shit-pile of cash to that Republican candidate in Minnesota who was campaigning against gay rights, I’m back to not giving a shit.  Either way, someone’s getting screwed.  At least I’ll save some money.

One thing that bothers me about the health care reform law that was passed was the removal of over-the-counter drugs from the list of approved health care spending account items.  That’s a big one to eat… I probably spend $300 a year on OTC medicines, from aspirin to cold medicine to allergy pills.  So I’m blowing the rest of my HSA money for the year on stockpiling pills.  Maybe they’ll be back in play by 2012.

While there, I also perused the bargain Blu-Ray bin and found “Silence of the Lambs” for $8.  With all the talk here last week about Sitcom Kelly’s Pits for Kris Letang and Matt Bahr, I figured it was time for an upgrade over the DVD I had.  It was right there on an end-cap, like a sign especially for me.  As soon as I saw it, I started chuckling, like “Oh yeah, that’s the one.”
Approved by Buffalo Bill.  And Precious.

Automotive Bluz
Another stupid thing I had to get was a new windshield scraper with a longer handle.  The Concorde I bought this summer is significantly wider than my old Neon and I noticed last week when I had to scrape the frost in the morning, I had to lean all the way across the hood.  So unless I wanted to routinely show up at work with giant wet spots on the front of my pants, I figured I needed a longer scraper.

While I was in the Auto Dept., I picked up a bottle of Rain-X, for use on the windshield.  I’d heard it did a good job of keeping the windshield clear and beading the water.  I’m hoping it helps in frost removal as well.  When I got home, I put it on all the glass around the car.

As a special added bonus, it rained here all day today so I got to see the Rain-X in action right away.  I’m pretty pleased.  It says on the bottle that the water will bead up and run right up your windshield as you drive, and it certainly did.  I can’t wait to get into a real hard downpour and turn that baby loose on the freeway, just to watch those water droplets scream up the glass.

How much do you want to bet that I plow into someone stopped at a red light, because I’m focusing on looking at the windshield?

RIP Skippy
Lastly today, it is with a heavy heart that I have to bid adieu to Steelers kicker, Jeff, “Skippy Skeeve the Foul Dwarf” Reed.   They cut him today and signed a new kicker, Shaun Suisham.  Reed missed a 26-yard field goal Sunday night and later blamed the turf on the field and took shots at the media and the fans.

Say what you may about his off-field poon-chasing, paper towel dispenser-smashing, cop-fighting, crotch self-photographing ways; he’s been an amazingly accurate kicker since he first signed with the Steelers.  And he’s been the world’s easiest punch line for jokesters everywhere. 

Now I’m not saying we should have kept him or cut him.  He’s acted like pretty much of a douchebag and I’m sure the Rooneys were tired of his shit.  But I am saying to those that celebrate his exit, “Be careful what you wish for,” because they’ll be booing Suisham too as soon as he misses a couple 30-yarders into the open end.  Remember, he’s a guy that 31 other teams didn’t want.

Farewell, Skippy, and good luck with the SlutQuest some other locale. 

Tell the kids he’s been taken to a farm somewhere… a Poon Farm… where he can run free and never have to wear a shirt again.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Patriot Games

My Steelers are playing one of their archenemies today, the New England Patriots.

Both teams are 6-2 and are fighting for domination in the AFC this year.  The Patriots come in having won the last 5 of 6 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.  I was at a two of them, although one was before that run started.

In January of 1998, I had just moved to Baltimore and was living with my brother Ed and his wife.  Ed and his friend Walt had a pair of tickets for the Steelers and Patriots in the first round of the playoffs.  I’d never been to a playoff game before, so they weren’t going to leave me behind.  We figured we’d pick one up for me “on the street”.  Obviously this was before StubHub, E-Bay and the rest of the “secondary market” for tickets came to be.

The game was Saturday so we drove out to Pittsburgh on Friday night.  Once we checked into our hotel in Greentree, we set out for a hotel bar downtown.  Walt found a guy selling tickets almost immediately for $140.  That was a lot for me at the time, (what with being unemployed and all), but I was just happy not to have to worry about getting shut out.

One the way home from the bar, we decided to buzz by Three Rivers Stadium and have a look.  Honest to God, it was 12:30 am and there was already a line of cars about half way around the stadium, waiting to be admitted to the parking lots.

Ed and Walt decided we should come back to the stadium about 5:30 the next morning.  Naturally, I questioned their sanity, parentage and legitimacy. 

Ed said “Trust me, when the time comes and you’re there, there will be no place else in the world you’d rather be.”

So there we were; up by 4:45, in transit by 5:30 and in line by 5:45.  The line started moving almost immediately and by 6:00 we were parked under one of the overpasses over the parking lot and firing up the grill.  I think we waited until at least 6:30 before cracking open the beer, as Walt grilled the sausage and peppers.
Ed, Walt and the grill.

With beer in hand, watching the sun come up over the city, surrounded a sea of Black and Gold, I realized my brother was exactly right.  At that moment, there was no place in the world I’d rather be.  I actually felt sorry for the poor slobs that were still in bed.  We were the privileged few and that sunrise was our prize.
Ed and I hitting our first beers, in front of Three Rivers Stadium, which you can’t see there.

Now mind you, we still had another 6 hour of tailgate yet to go.  It was crazy-town out there.  I saw shit that still boggles my mind.
This guy drove around the parking lot, with his cat in the back seat on his special Steelers cat-bed.

These guys were burning a shirt that said “Fuck the Patriots.”  Other people had that slogan carved into a burning barrel.  Somehow, I don’t think they let you build fires right there on the parking lot surface any more.

We also took time to honor our boyhood hero, the great Roberto Clemente.  Arriba Roberto!

What I didn’t see were Patriots fans… no more than 12 throughout the entire day.  There was nothing there but a black and gold frenzy.  The Steelers won the game 7-6, on a 40-yard TD run by Kordell Stewart.  It was a euphoric experience for my first playoff game.  From the parking lot, I borrowed my brother’s new-fangled cell phone and called all my friends from Albany, going “Guess where I am right now?

In 1998, we lucked out with the weather.  That afternoon it was a balmy 50 degrees most of the time.  In 2005 at the AFC Championship game, we had no such luck.  This was a late game and the temperature at kickoff was a most UN-balmy 13 degrees.  (And falling.)

We totally lucked into these tickets.  Ed was on the Steelers season ticket waiting list and his name came up in a drawing for playoff tickets.  He got 4 tickets to each of the first 2 playoff games.  He couldn’t make it to the first one, against the Jets, so my mom and dad flew in from Green Bay and met me there.  It was cold that time too… my poor mom was woefully underdressed and froze her tiny butt off… even to the point where she was rooting for the Jets kicker to make a game-winning kick, just so we could get the hell out of there.  Remember, this was the game where the Jets kicker hit the post on a field goal with under 2 minutes left, and missed wide in overtime.  The Steelers eventually pulled it out.

Mom wanted no part of this game so she sat it out.  Unfortunately her sons had no such good sense.

But this was the magic season.  We had a rookie QB that hadn’t lost a game yet.  The Steelers went 15-1 that year; Big Ben was 13-0.  This was also the year we saw the “Hurricane game” in Miami, in which our plans were scrambled by Hurricane Jeanne.  There was no way we were going to miss seeing the Steelers get into their first Super Bowl since 1995.

We made a token attempt at tailgating, but it was just raw outside.  We hung out at our friend Bob’s tailgate for a while but headed into the stadium pretty quickly.  The cool thing about Heinz Field is that they have band playing before the game and all kinds of exhibits in the Great Hall, so there’s always shit to do before the game.

We do know how to dress for the misery though.  I was totally layered up for maximum warmth AND mojo effect.
That’s 4 layers of pants/sweat pants and 6 layers up top: T-shirt, Turtleneck, long-sleeve tee, sweatshirt, insulated windbreaker and game jersey.  This was all under my winter coat.  Everything I wore had Steelers on it.

I also had my Steelers gloves and socks; both stuffed with those gel-pack warmers.  Worked pretty well too!  I had my big waterproof boots, and cardboard to sit on and put under my feet.  Add a Steeler ski cap, and skiing face-wrap thing and my bling and I’m good to go.
My dad and I, up high in the upper deck of the closed end zone.  Yes, that’s snow packed under the aluminum seats.

Our vantage point at the beginning of the game, while we were too optimistic to be cold.

Still, despite my best efforts, the Steelers lost… badly.  They were down 23-3 after the first half.  Ben looked terrible and of course, this was before the Pats were busted for illegally filming their opponents.  So they had our intel too.

I felt bad for poor Lee Greenwood who came out at halftime to try to engage a cold and severely pissed off crowd.  He was aggressively ignored.

We started making some progress at making a big comeback, but for every gain, the Pats would make a big play of their own to maintain their big lead. 

With all my stuff on, I really was never that cold, until the reality of the 4th quarter set in and I realized that there would be no more miracles this season.  Stupid Pats…

Still, I mostly blame myself for the loss and the evidence is right in the last picture.  See the 3 strings of black and gold beads?  There were supposed to be 4.  I left the room without them at all… D’oh!  Then when Dad had to go back for something else, I asked him to grab my bling from my bag.  He didn’t know how many there were and just brought down as many has he grabbed, which was 3.  It could have been that one missing strand that changed everything.

Realistically, I don’t really think so though.  I’m sure they lost because I was wearing a PURPLE ski-thing.  Purple is the Ravens’ color; therefore I never wear it.  I wouldn’t even let Pinky get purple towels for the powder room here.  But Ed had 2 ski-things… his was a black one, and his wife had a purple one.  That’s the one I had to wear.  So I blame myself.  If I’d manned up sufficiently and just faced having a cold face, the Steelers could have went to the Super Bowl that year.  Such is the responsibility that I bear.

So with that in mind, we come to the game gear mojo for today’s game.

The Steelers are wearing their throwback jerseys and so will I.  Last year we were 2-0 when I wore my Harrison throwback when the Steelers wore theirs.  Once I wore my white Steelers sweat pants and the other, my plaid Steelers sweats.  I wore the white when they beat the Ratbirds, another member of the Unholy Trinity, so I’m going with the white again today.

I am ready for some football.