Wednesday, April 30, 2014

VIPs and Big Decrees

Two things to cover today, so this is kind of a mixed bag post.

As I said in my last post, my buddy, the VP of Hell No is in town for a visit.  Also, so are the Pittsburgh Pirates, to play the Orioles.  I have tickets for both games, on Tuesday and Wednesday.  And you know what else is in town these two days?  A freakin' monsoon!

Seems I can’t win for losing anymore.  Anyway, I was discussing the situation with Sitcom Kelly, and this email train emerged.

Sitcom Kelly: Yeah, Wednesday is thunder storms.   If the game is still played, at least we’ll be under the cover.

Bluzdude: Yeah, it’ll be an excuse to hang out downtown and drink beer. 

SK: Like an excuse is needed…

BD: I’m not sure what the effect will be… will it keep the crowds away, or just drive them inside The Bullpen, so we can’t get a seat?

(The Bullpen is the bar we always go to before an O’s game; so much so that in 2012, they gave us both VIP cards.)

SK: We’ll just flash our VIP cards and the “sea” will part.

BD: I need to get a flip-style badge wallet for it, like the FBI has…

SK: Oh, you SO need to get one.

BD:Excuse me sir, [flip] Bullpen VIP.  You’re in my spot.”

SK: OMG!!  I’m dying here!! 

BD: VIP Division is taking custody of this table… and your nachos.  VIP Sitcom, please show these clowns the door…”

SK: So crazy!

BD: [tapping earpiece] I just got word that there’s a better table up front, occupied by 2 non-VIPs.  We’re moving to commandeer… over.

My prediction is that they’ll try to get four and a half innings in tonight, to make it a legal game, and Wednesday’s game will be postponed.  Both teams are off on Thursday, so they could make it up then.  The VP and I are meeting Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom Sister for the game on Wednesday.  For tonight’s game, I’m going with my friend Jenn.  If the worst thing that happens is that I spend a couple of hours with her drinking beer and eating bar food, it will still be a night well spent.

Director’s DVD Commentary: This post is being written before Tuesday’s game, but posted afterward.  So please forgive any back and forth in time frame.

Late addition: They called the game off by 5:30, just after Jenn and I hit the area.  Then we found that The Bullpen was closed, so we walked down to the local Hooters, on the Inner Harbor.  (Jenn loves the wings there.)  So we hung out, drank beer, ate wings (and a fish sandwich for me), and shot the breeze.  It was definitely a night well spent.

As for tonight, it’s supposed to rain all day and into the night.  I expect they’ll cancel tonight’s game as well, so they’ll probably play two tomorrow.  I’ll see if I can get the afternoon off.

N.B. A-hole
By now, everyone has heard about the ridiculous comments from the owner of basketball’s LA Clippers.  Today, the NBA Commissioner came down hard on him, fining him 2.5 mil and basically booting him from any interactions with the team or front office, for life.  They are pressuring him to sell out, as well.

Right, what a punishment… “Here, take this massive payoff to go away.”  The team could reportedly sell for over a billion smackeroos.

You have to be impressed by how thoroughly that “girlfriend” really ratfucked the guy.  She totally brought down his whole castle right on his head.  Not that I have any sympathy for either of them.  I’m just watching as an amused spectator.

One thing I spectated in the paper this morning was a letter to the editor in the Baltimore Sun.  I don’t know that it was in support of the owner, but the writer was using the chance to take a shot at liberals and the “liberal media.”  Here’s what he said:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling may be a lot of things, probably negative to most people, but first and foremost he is a citizen of the United States.  If a person is engaged in an intimate or personal conversation, he would presume that it is one of a private nature.  I guess the liberal media doesn’t respect First Amendment rights!  They have taken to this story like lions to the Christians!  The left wing often explains freedom of speech as “protection of words that most find abhorrent”; where are they on this one?  It looks like George Orwell was right, the “thought police” are coming for you!

Once again, some white guy on the right completely misses the point of the First Amendment.  I know I’ve covered it before, but it bears repeating.  The First Amendment allows you to speak your piece without prior restraint.  It doesn’t insulate you from bearing the consequences of said “spoken piece.”  If you say something stupid, you take responsibility for it.  And if you say something so irretrievably racist, sexist, and just plain inhuman, and everyone kicks you in the ass for it, that’s on you for being such a freakin’ numbskull.

It’s not a matter of Thought Police, or a so-called liberal media, (How liberal was the media when they were busy crucifying Bill Clinton for not being able to keep his Slick Willy in his pants?) it’s a matter of responsibility for one’s own actions.  Isn’t that what the conservatives always trumpet when they’re locking up pot smokers and protesters?

I also see how the writer is using loaded imagery of the lions pursuing the Christians, trying to play the “persecution” card.  The religious right loves to claim persecution whenever a bunch of people (like me) don’t want them to dominate public events with their particular flavor of religion.  One person claiming their right not to be spiritually steamrolled by another is not exactly “persecution.”

Eventually, I’m sure someone is going to go after the gold-digger who guided the conversation, recorded it and sent it to the press.  I’m no expert, but I don’t think you can record someone without their knowledge or a warrant.  So she could be in deep doo-doo as well.  Not sure what he can sue her for… probably nothing that he didn’t give her in the first place.  It won’t be a replacement for his NBA team, that’s for sure.

I wouldn’t give her much of a chance to land another rich old man, not after the rogering she gave Sterling.  I’m pretty sure word will get around the golf course.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Visitor Prep

I’ve got a busy couple of days ahead.  Not only are the Buccos coming to town to play the Orioles on Tuesday and Wednesday, my buddy from Ohio, the VP of Hell No, is coming out for a visit.  He’s attending a convention in town and my place makes a good hotel-replacement.

Well, it does AFTER I rustle up someplace for him to sleep. 

With my place to myself again, I hadn’t done anything yet with the back bedroom.  Before it was Pinky’s home base, and the last girlfriend’s office, it was must where I put all my junk.  Now, with the junk gone, and girlfriends out the door, it’s just an empty room.  But I always did want a guest room.

But if I learned anything from my short-lived girlfriend experience, it’s that moving sucks.  (OK, I knew that already, but it was a good reminder.)  I could get another bed in there, but A) it does take up an awful lot of room, and B) mattresses are a bitch to move.

So I decided to look into getting an air mattress instead.  In looking them up on line, I found that the state of the art has improved greatly in the last several years.  So once The VP confirmed his visit, I pulled the trigger and ordered a really nice air mattress.

I hooked it up yesterday and hot damn, it was pretty comfy.  It has a maintenance feature that keeps the softness up to the desired level, throughout the night.
 My new air mattress.

Now, I obviously don’t have much in the way of support furniture.  There’s a lamp, but that’s it.  So I figure The VP will need someplace to put his suitcase, or whatever personal effects he has.  I don’t have a table, so I improvised.
One minute, it’s a life raft and a box…

...The next minute, it’s a bed and night table.

I’ve been doing a lot of improvising this year.  When the gf was here, she was complaining about how most of the warm air from the living room air vent was directed down behind the curtains on the sliding glass door.  And she was right; I’d been looking at that for years and thinking I should do something about it.  And then the Penguins would score and I’d forget all about it.

I heard you could get some kind of deflector for it, but that struck me as complicated.  So did this instead.

That’s good old American ingenuity, right there.

It was kind of annoying though, because the faux deflector would fall off every time I moved the curtain.  Anyway, once I began putting my place back together, I ordered a real air deflector.

Unfortunately, it’s held on by magnets, so I didn’t get to use any tools.

Now whenever the heat kicks on, I know it’s not being wasted by blowing behind the drapes.  (And why, for Pete’s sake, is the heat still kicking on?  Where the hell is summer?  Or spring, for that matter?)

I also need to get my walls in shape.  I hate bare walls, but I don’t want to just throw a bunch of junk back up on them.  Luckily, there’s Groupon.  I found a great piece of art on canvas, which was perfect for my hallway (opposite the Wall of Hats).

Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, and the best view in baseball.

It’s perfect for a hallway, because it’s so long.  I also plan to get some prints of shots I took of Heinz Field and Camden Yards, to go along side it.

I also used Groupon to have 16” x 20” canvas prints made of two other pictures I’ve taken, to go in the dining room.  Then I’ll work some 8” x “10s around those.

My rule now is to only put up stuff that’s framed.  All in all, I’m looking to set up a classier joint.

I couldn’t find an Ottoman I liked (in stores) for a reasonable price, so I ordered one of those online too.  I was going to put it at the foot of the bed, but I ended up using it to fill space on the side wall.

I was going to move the wardrobe over to the other side, but if I was going to put a TV on it, it would need to stay on the other side, where the cable is.

I found I missed having a TV in there.  I’d always planned to replace my main TV with a newer, bigger one, and then use the old one in the bedroom.  I was going to keep it up on my wardrobe.  But after further review, I found that it would be too wide.  I’d have to pull the wardrobe out from the wall by at least another 6”.

I started with Groupon, but after researching the model they had on sale (which included a built-in DVD player), I found that it wasn’t a very dependable model. (Hence the appearance on Groupon, I’m sure.)

So I went online and ordered a nice 32” Samsung, for about the same price I saw them for at Wally’s.  (Only without the DVD player.)  I’ve been ordering a lot of shit online over the last month, so it was funny to me when the TV was delivered the same day as a case of Listerine Flash Strips.

(To me, the "funny" is in the size disparity.  Seeing both boxes outside my door was funny looking to me.  Granted, I'm painfully easily amused.)

I usually buy Flash Strips in the store, but I haven’t been able to find cinnamon flavor for months.  There must be some kind of shortage, or maybe they discontinued them.

Anyway, here’s why I know I might be overdoing it on the online shopping.  See, I was bugged by not getting the TV model that had the built-in DVD.  But then I figured, “Why get a DVD?  If you get a Blu-Ray player, you can play both!”

So I ordered a cheap Blu-Ray player.  When that arrived, I realized I’d need an HDMI cable, so I ordered one of those too.  Now everything is all hooked up!

But here’s the funny part.  I really have no idea why I ordered the Blu-Ray, because I can think of very few circumstances where I would watch a movie from bed.  If I wanted to watch a DVD or Blu-Ray, I’d watch it on the big screen in the living room.  What the hell was I thinking?

Maybe one day soon I’ll get sick, and will be able to watch movies from bed instead of daytime TV.  So here’s to hoping!

One other thing… All of my deliveries came when I was at work.  I came home to find my ottoman and TV, both in giant boxes, left for me.  The delivery service also left my air deflector, the HDMI cable, my PNC Park canvas, the flash strips, and a package of game jerseys, right at the door.

But when I ordered a common $10 surge protector for the TV?  That, they wouldn’t leave.  I had to sign the slip and leave it on the door, before they would deliver it.  WTF?

So, my buddy is coming to visit.  That means there will be some red meat and beer drinking involved, I’m sure.  The last time he visited, I was pretty new in town myself.  This time, it’ll be nice that I’ll know what I’m doing.

I will need his help with one small project though.  I need to go into the bathroom off the bedroom and sit on the can.  Then I need him to hold up a mirror on the bedroom wall and position it until I can see the TV from my perch.

Now THAT’S when a house (or apartment) becomes a home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kick Prince Albert in the Can

LA Angel Albert Pujols hit his 500th home run last night and what should have been a celebratory situation ended up with some hard feelings.

The home run ball was caught by Air Force Sgt. Tom Sherrill, who turned the ball over to team officials in return for “whatever they thought was fair.”  That’s where perceptions of value apparently differ.

Milestone baseballs like this can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The team gave the guy an Angels cap and the promise of 4 complimentary tickets to a future game.

Unless those seats are in (late owner) Gene Autry’s luxury box, in heaven, I think the guy got screwed.  It’s not like the Angels, or Pujols can’t afford it.  Pujols and two other teammates have 9-figure deals with the team, so it’s not like they couldn’t grease the good Sergeant a little better than they did.  I guess he shouldn’t have made the terms so ambiguous.

Other teams in similar circumstances have provided signed bats, jerseys, and hats, tickets, or meetings with the player involved.  Those are the kind of things that don’t really cost the team all that much, but can be highly valued by the fan.

Seeing this story makes me, a person keenly interested in sports memorabilia in general and game-used baseballs in particular, wonder what I would have done.

I suppose a lot would depend on whose milestone ball I caught… was it someone of whom I was a fan, or just another big hitter with whom I have no connection.  In other words, if the guy isn’t a Pirate, an Oriole, or a universally-loved superstar, I might not care too much.  I’d probably try to figure out what options would best work in my favor.

What I don’t think Sarge realized was that he held all the leverage.  I say; if the player or team wants the milestone ball, make me a compelling offer.  I would totally haggle with the team representative.

Let’s say I catch (on ricochet off the upper deck facing or grab from under a seat) a milestone ball hit by the Orioles’ Chris Davis or Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen.  My first ask would be an autographed game jersey and hat.  Definitely some high-quality tickets to another game.  And I would like to present the ball to the player myself.  (In other words, get to meet the guy, congratulate him, and probably get a picture.)

If the team or player balked, I’d be perfectly happy to keep the ball on my bookshelf with my other “trophies,” like the foul ball I caught at Camden Yards five years ago. 

 Then if the market was right, maybe I’d sell it for some long green.  Some players like to keep their memorabilia; others don’t care.  So I’d make either case work for me.

Now if I obtained the ball from a player from the opposing team, about whom I didn’t really care, I probably wouldn’t hold out for meeting the player.  If it was a future Hall of Famer and class guy like Derek Jeter, I’d ask, but still settle for a hat and jersey, maybe a signed bat.  And again, if I didn’t like the deal, I’d go home with the ball and explore my options.

The team would be crazy not to meet my requests.  Look how much bad press the Angels are getting over the Pujols ball right now. 

The one thing I definitely wouldn’t do is hand the ball to some kid, who would probably chuck it back onto the field.

It occurs to me that this would be an excellent opportunity to make fun of the whole process.   How asking for some non-traditional perks, with great opportunity for hijinks:
  • Be bat boy for a game.  Then show up in a cape and mask.
  • Pick the walk-up music for each batter and make it wildly inappropriate. (Salsa for the white guys, rap for the Latin guys, Pat Boone for the black guys.)  (Nah, I’m kidding.  Pat Boone for everyone.)
  • Ask for an invite to spring training, for a tryout.  Show up in football gear.
  • Be the PA announcer for one inning, and mispronounce everyone’s name.  Even names like “Adam Jones.”
  • Throw out the first pitch, and chuck it into the dugout.
  • Be one of the racing characters on the field, (if the team has those) and run straight into the outfield wall and fall flat.  Stay there until they come to drag you off.
So, all kidding aside, am I just another greedy pig?  I don’t see it that way.  No matter how much I ask in return for the ball, it’s essentially chump change to the players and the team.  Superstar doesn’t get his trophy?  I’m sure he’ll still live happily ever after with his multi-million dollar salary and lifetime of perks. 

 Actually, I’d be stone cold stupid not to sell the ball outright.  Choosing some autographed swag versus selling the ball for between one and several years’ salary?  Not exactly shrewd, is it? 

Of course, I’d just blow my earnings on game jerseys, bacon cheeseburgers and beer, anyway.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Quiet One

Got my head banged last week, with the various reports about my favorite head-bangers, AC/DC.

On Monday, there were reports that due to the illness of an unnamed band member, AC/DC was no longer going to be recording or touring.  They reportedly had a pact that if anyone in the band leaves, they’ll fold their tent.  The information came from a member of another band, who was friends with the group.

I’ve written before about my affinity for AC/DC, so this was disconcerting news to me, for sure.  There hasn’t been a time during my years as a rock and roller, that AC/DC hasn’t been out there hammering people’s senses with deafening, hook-laden three-chord blues rock.  I immediately assumed the ailing rocker was Malcolm Young, the band leader, co-song writer and rhythm guitarist.  He’s always looked like he was mildly ill, or at least undernourished.

The next day, singer Brian Johnson made a statement saying if the band was quitting, it was news to him.  He did confirm that one of the boys was sick, but wouldn’t elaborate, saying it wasn’t his place:

One of the boys has a debilitating illness, but I don't want to say too much about it. He is very proud and private, a wonderful chap. We've been pals for 35 years and I look up to him very much.”

Then, the next day, the band put out its own statement, confirming that the ailing musician was indeed Malcolm, and that he was “taking a break from the band.”  It went on to say that the band would continue to make music, and asked that his family’s privacy be respected.

AC/DC from 2011: L-R Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams, Angus Young, Brian Johnson. (Source)

I’ve seen AC/DC in concert on 5 different occasions, one of which was their “Blow Up Your Video” tour, in which Malcolm Young’s nephew Steve filled in for him, while he went to rehab.  I never even knew the difference.  From where I was sitting, (quite a ways away), the kid was a dead ringer… skinny guy with long hair and a white t-shirt.

So I know they can still tour.  That’s not where Malcolm will be missed.  I’m wondering about the song-writing.  Malcolm has writing credits on most every AC/DC song, and as the rhythm guitar player, I’m sure he has a lot of influence.

Rhythm guitar might sound like “second fiddle,” but on the contrary, it’s what sets AC/DC apart.  Younger brother Angus gets most of the attention, because of his schoolboy suit, dizzying solos and tireless energy and showmanship, but the rhythm guitar is where the hooks live.

Think of the greatest AC/DC songs… the ones where you know from the first 2 seconds, what’s coming.  Those opening hooks that carry the primary melody?  That’s Malcolm.

Whole Lotta Rosie…  Da dada dada dat dat…

Dirty Deeds… Daaah, dat daaah… dat daaah… dat daaah…

Highway to Hell… Da da dat… da da dut… da dut dat, da dut dat, dut, da dat.

Back in Black… Dat… da dat… da dat…

Director’s DVD Commentary: I should totally go on “Hollywood Game Night.”  Of course they speak in “doots,” not “dats.”  Potato, potahto.

I’m leaving off a zillion more that probably aren’t known to the casual listener, plus, I’m running out of “dats.”  But these are instantly recognizable chunks of power chords that have been making heads bob for over 40 years.

Anyone can thrash away on a guitar.  It takes a real musician to put a hook behind the “crunch.” 

So I hope Mr. Young gets well soon.  Hard rock won’t be the same without him. 

People can go out and hear R.E.M. if they want deep lyrics, but at the end of the night, they want to go home and get f*****! That's where AC/DC comes into it”  ~Malcolm Young~

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting Crabby

My department at work sponsored a March of Dimes fundraiser (you remember how I’m seeking donations?) which featured various crab-related dishes for lunch.  We had crab quesadillas, crab dip and crab soups.  The soups were donated from nearby restaurants. 

One of the donors, Mick O’Shea’s requested that we bring their gallon-sized plastic container back to them.  Because Mick’s is my regular downtown happy hour spot, I volunteered to bring the container back.  I emailed my friend, Sitcom Kelly, figuring it would be a chance for a quick happy hour.  Would have been a shame to waste the trip.

She couldn’t go, though.  But this email chain rose from the ashes.

Sitcom Kelly: Did you have any crab soup?

Bluzdude: Hellz yeah!  It was delish.  Mick’s in particular was real good.

SK: Good to know.  Maybe I’ll get it sometime.

BD: You can eat crab??  (Sitcom Kelly is a vegetarian.)

SK: I “can” eat anything I want.  I’ll eat stuff made with crab meat, but not the actual crab.

BD: The longer I know you, the less sense you make.  But I guess that’s part of your charm.

By that definition, you could also eat pulled pork or chicken nuggets.

SK: Hee hee hee.

BD: Beef or chicken broth.  Hamburgers!  They’re nothing but minced beef… like what’s in crab soup.  (Just all wadded together.)

SK: It makes no sense, I know.

BD:I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.”  ~Popeye… and Sitcom Kelly~

Such is the dichotomy that is Sitcom Kelly.  But I shouldn’t be surprised.  This is the same girl that orders a cheese pizza, and picks off most of the cheese.  I guess Popeye is a vegetarian too, and he does all right. 

Anyway, I couldn’t scare up anyone else to go have a drink, so I just went by myself and figured I’d grab a seat at the bar and see if there was anyone to talk to.  I ended up sitting beside The Catman.  I know this because the bartender and all the wait staff called him Catman, or just “Cat.”  Also, he was wearing a ballcap that said, “CATMAN.”

Just goes to show, you never know who you’re going to meet when you go sit at a bar.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but when I got home, I found a UPS delivery slip on my door.  It’s funny.  Last night, they left a $200 ottoman at my front door.  Earlier this week, they left a $250, 32” flat screen TV at my door.  And now, they won’t leave a $10 surge protector?

Nothing makes sense any more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cup Mojo and Other Miscellanea

Well, another NHL regular season has been put to rest, with the Stanley Cup playoffs starting tomorrow.  As you may know, to me, the regular season is nothing but an opportunity for me to gain data on which Penguins game jerseys to wear for the playoffs.

For each game (most of the time) I select a game jersey and track the results.  Over 82 games, it comes to a pretty good bit of data.  And each year, I run down the results for you here, because it is just that fascinating.  (Snork!)  Hey, if I’m going to put this much effort into tracking, or anything, I expect to get a blog post out of it.

I didn’t obtain any new hockey jerseys this year, (most of my jersey acquisition went into baseball jerseys), so you’ll see the same options I’ve been rolling out.

This year’s clear winner was the black Brooks Orpik #44, which I wore for most home games.

18 wins 6 losses, and a .750 win percentage.

Next best was the black Evgeni Malkin #71. 

7-3, .700

I didn’t wear it as much because A) the Orpik jersey was hot and B) Geno was hurt a lot.  I tend not to wear the jersey of a player who’s out of the lineup.  Most of the wins here came from when Orpik was hurt.

Next was my go-to jersey for away games, the white Sidney Crosby #87.

11-8, .578

The white Sid was streaky, but still piled up a lot of losses.  When I didn’t go with this one, I went with my white James Neal #18.

3-4, .428

Because neither of those two white jerseys was very reliable, I went with a number of alternatives for away games, usually in powder blue.  The blue #87 from the first Winter Classic (vs Buffalo) went 1-1.  I had better luck with my blue “Pensblog” jersey, which went 3-0.  Other times, I wore a white Mario #66, with the 80s-90s Corporate Pigeon logo, which went 2-0.

All of my other “home” jerseys went 1-1: Snoop Dogg-era #66 with Pittsburgh down the front, early 2000s-era #66 with Vegas Gold trim, and early-90s-era #66 in black and yellow.

There were occasions where I didn’t wear any jersey at all, usually because I was otherwise occupied, often with a certain person who was moving into and then out of my apartment.  When I wore no jersey, the Pens went 3-6, .333.  This clearly proves that the Pens have a better shot at winning when I’m working the jersey mojo. 

So with the playoffs looming, it looks like I’ll be working the black 44 and white 87 most often, and bringing in the occasional Mario jersey off the bench, when an extra bump is needed.


The apartment is coming along nicely; I’ve been busy assembling new parts and pieces to classy-up the old man-cave.  I keep telling myself I have all kinds of time to work with, but the other part of me keeps whining, “But I want is all done NOW…”  I swear, I’m keeping Amazon in business singlehandedly.


And I know I said I wouldn’t mention it again, but there is still time to help some people out by donating to March of Dimes.  You can read about the lengths I’ve come to throw active support behind this organization, and find a link to donate, in this post here.  The link for donations will be open until 5/1.


Lastly, let me just remind you that you can still vote on whether I should shave my head.  The poll is open until Thursday at 6:00 PM, and can be found on the right hand margin, just under my Twitter information and recent tweets.

I’m not saying the results are legally binding; I’m just seeking outside opinion.  It may not be as important as Game Jersey Mojo, but you know how I am about gathering data…

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Bald Truth

I’ve been chewing on a dilemma for a while now, so I was thinking maybe I’d ask for your opinion.

A number of people over the years have suggested to me that I should shave my head.

For most of my life, I’ve dismissed the idea immediately.  I grew up in an era where the longer your hair was, the cooler you were.  I always wanted long hair, which during my junior high and high school years, created ongoing conflict between my dad and me.

He got the last laugh though, as genetics proved to be the ultimate arbiter, from which I had little recourse.

I’ve never really liked the look of a white guy with a shaved head.  Without the right facial hair, it just looks like a thumb with a face on it.  I also think I resist because it IS becoming a more frequent look.  I resisted shaving my beard into a goatee for the same reason… because everyone was doing it.

Of course, I did eventually cave on the goatee, and now here I am considering this too.

Aesthetics aside, I have a number of practical concerns.

  • You know I rarely go anywhere without a ball cap on.  Hair provides a handy sweat buffer.  If I had no hair, the whole hat would be more likely to get ruined by sweat and salt stains.  I like my hats to look crisp and clean.  And there would likely be a hat-ring left on my skull every time I took it off.  Also, anything I’d touch my head against would end up with a greasy coconut mark on it. 
  • I worry about missing spots shaving it.  It’s not like I can see back there.  Nor would I notice all the little cuts and nicks I’d inevitably leave.  Hell, I could have blood smeared all over the back of my head, and I’d never know it.  (At least until the police start questioning me about my whereabouts…) 
  • If five o’clock shadow looks bad on my face, it has to look worse on my head.  My bare-headed buddies, Rik and John, both have light hair.  If they shadow up, it’s much harder to notice.  With my dark hair, you’d easily see the line where shaving stopped and nature took over.

  • What the hell do I use to wash it, soap or shampoo?  Wouldn’t soap dry out the scalp and produce dandruff?  Ew.  Maybe the “one quarter cleansing cream” the Dove soap I use would suffice. 
But it’s not like there aren’t any benefits.

·       No more buying shampoo or haircuts.

·       No more bed-head.  (Of course, there will be more surface area for pillow marks.)

·       Less hair on the floor to sweep up.  (I say “less” because the idea of shaving anything else is a non-starter.  I refuse to walk around looking like a boy band member gone to seed.)

·       The gray hair disappears.

OK, so there are some partial benefits.  So let’s say I’m going to do this… I’m not one to go plunging in.  I’d probably do it in stages.

For example, when I get a haircut, I usually have them use a “3-guard” on the clippers.  Maybe I’ll go for a 2-guard next time.  The last time I had them use a 2-guard, Pinky thought it was too short.  So then, the time after that, (but before it gets long again, do a 1-guard, which won’t leave much more than fuzz.  That would leave me with a pretty good idea of what I’d look like if it were all gone.

I know… it’s so much fuss about a small strip of hair around the back of my head.  I should just get over it and pull the trigger.  It’s not like it won’t grow back.  And this is the season to do it… if I wait much longer, I’ll start to get tan on my face and head.  And then if I shave the rest, it won’t match.  My head would look like butterscotch on a vanilla cone.

I’d also have to decide what to do about facial hair.  I could shave the chin and go with a big handlebar ‘stache, like my buddies do.  The plus side is that my chin is where most of the gray hairs reside.  The down side is that when we get together, it will look like we’re in some kind of club. 

 Or I could grow out a full beard and go full Russian.  Or I could just leave it as is.  I wouldn’t consider shaving all that off too.  I think facial hair is needed to break up the monotony of my face.  I can’t do anything too outlandish though, because I still work in a fairly conservative industry.

I’m not the one who has to look at me.  Believe me; I spend a miniscule time in front of a mirror.  Factor out attending to my contact lenses and shaving, and it’s pretty much zero.  My point is; it’s the rest of the world that has to look at me.   So what does the rest of the world, as represented by you, think I should do?

I’ve always wanted to try the “survey” gadget on Blogger, so this appears to be my chance.  Please click a response on the survey in the right-side margin, and feel free to add any additional explanation in Comments.  My head is in your hands…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Odd Bits - The Cold Cuts Edition

I know I covered this back in 2011, but here it is again.  Another female high school teacher has been arrested for “cleaning the erasers” with a male student.

As I asserted in a previous post, I fail to see the problem here.  To me, it sounds more like “The Year I Won at High School.”  So it cracked me up where in the article, they keep referring to the kid is The Victim.  (Yes, I know they don’t identify minors by name when they’re a “victim” of a sex “crime.”)

I guarantee this kid will be bragging to his friends about this story for the rest of his life.  “Victim,” my eye.  Sure, the teacher cleaned and polished the kid’s eraser in a closet at school.  But also notice that they had two other encounters at her place.  Think she tied him up and dragged him there?  That kid followed his pecker over there like it was a divining rod.

And not only that, he filmed an encounter on his phone.  You think he was “collecting evidence,” like it was a congressional “investigation?”  Hell no.  That was earmarked for the spank bank.

I just wonder about the teacher.  I know she was really young, (24) but I keep thinking, “Come on, lady, I’m sure you can do better than some boy…”  It’s not like 24-year old men are all old and over the hill…  So while she’s not exercising the best judgment, I can see her getting fired from the school.  But I don’t think she needs to go to jail. 

Maybe sentence her to 30 days on instead.

I Keep Telling Everyone, But No One Listened
Ah HA!  I knew it!  A new study just came out that said vegetarians are less healthy and have a lower quality of life than meat-eaters.  Revenge is mine!

How long have I been saying that vegetables are evil?  Huh?  For as long as I’ve had a blog, that’s how long.  All you vegetarians and vegans with your special diets and gluten-free this and non-dairy that… We omnivores get the last laugh!

OK, I’m done gloating now.  The truth is, I don’t really even fully buy the study’s conclusion, because they seem to make a lot of assumptions.  If you read carefully, there are a number of other factors that influence one’s health, like alcohol intake and smoking.   And a meat-heavy diet does come with legitimate concerns about obesity, clogged arteries and risk of heart attack.

But still, it’s nice to have a little support from the scientific community.  And now, bacon for everyone!

 The Dream
Great.  Flaming. Jesus.  I had the most unbelievable and traumatic dream Sunday night.  Check this out…

I was playing soccer, and got tangled up with another player, and we both went down in a heap.  When I got up, I realized that “Bluz Jr.” had been nearly sliced off and was hanging by a tiny strip of skin.  In fact, the top half came right off in my hand.

And I remember thinking (within the dream), “Damn, that’s the good part.”  No guy wants to live without the Angry Inch

You know how we guys are about our junk.  We’re highly protective of our little buddies. 

(Disclaimer: Not an actual willy.)

Though clearly unhappy about my schlong being reduced to a schlort, I was remarkably composed about the whole incident, which had been surprisingly painless.  (That should have been my first clue that it was a dream.)  Next thing I knew, I was sitting in a sort of “common room” that you might find in the main area of a frat house.   It appeared to be a house full of medical students.  Perhaps I was playing college intermural soccer.

Anyway, with the better half of Bluz Jr still in my hand, and the other half suffering from boneus interruptus, I asked the room if they might be able to find a way to put this thing back on, because I was pretty sure I was going to need it.  In fact, I had to pee right then.  There seemed to be a murmur in the room, as they discussed my plight and I considered what it might be like to live without a wang.

And then… I was never as glad as I was right then, to wake up in my own bed.  An immediate examination determined that Bluz Jr was just fine.  And all was well again in the land of Bluz.  Even if he didn’t have anywhere to go just yet, he still has potential.

So now: WTF????  Any of you amateur Freuds out there want to take a shot at what that meant?

Freud and So-crates… the Dream Team

First of all, me? Playing soccer???  I haven’t played a competitive game of soccer since gym class in junior high, and that was a one-off.  Where in the hell did that come from?  Just because I was a fan of Mia Hamm, doesn’t mean I wanted my lunch meat sliced.

My first instinct is to tie it to my experience of my boomerang relationship that just bounced out of the apartment.  Could that have been my brain processing the loss of autonomy that the relationship represented?  But if so, why did I have the dream when it was over, rather than when it was still going on?

Maybe it had something to do with my anti-vegetarianism, by making me consider a life without meat.

Or maybe it was a message for me to be less cocky.

Either way, you can bet your ass I’m never playing soccer again.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Shifting Out of Neutral

On Friday, my apartment became my own again.

As you may remember, following my split with Pinky, I plummeted headlong into another relationship, with a girl from my distant past.  She moved into my place in January, but was packed to leave by mid-March.  Since then, I’ve been kind of stuck in neutral, or limbo, if you will.  She was gone, but all of her stuff was still here, boxed up and crammed into corners and along walls.

At least I could get to my computer desk.

Getting to the hallway bathroom was a challenge.

Good thing I rarely need to get to my CDs.

And I still had use of the FrankenCouch.

She flew into town on Thursday night, we picked up the truck Friday morning, and were loading it up by 9:00 AM.  We got most of the boxes and bins onboard before our hired help showed up at 11:00.  After doing all the unloading ourselves, the first time, these guys were worth every penny, to move her furniture.

The biggest problem was getting her desk out of the back bedroom.

That’s her desk by the window.

We had just barely gotten it in the door of the back bedroom. (Remember, there’s a closet bump-out right in front of the door, so you have to make a hard left to get it in.)  I know we took some paint off the door frame while doing it, but we were eventually successful.  The trouble was; neither of us remembered how we did it.  The movers tried a number of angles, and they were always about an inch too wide.

We even took the door off the hinges, but they still couldn’t get it through.  I was trying to match up the shaved paint from the door frame with the paint marks on the edge of the desk, to try to recreate what we had done.  Finally, turning it every which way, they got to “right-side up,” and it eased right out the door.

I hate it when you spend a half hour on intricate solutions, only to arrive at the obvious one.  It’s like looking all over the house for your glasses, and then finding them stuck on the top of your head.  But once we took the door off, there was plenty of room to slide it out the easy way.

Everything else was a breeze after that, and while we had booked them for 3 hours, we were done after 2.  She had said she wanted to be on the road by 2:00 and I didn’t think that would be even remotely possible.  But there we were, at 1:55, saying goodbye through the truck window.

I spent the next hour vacuuming and putting some of my things back where they had originally been.  It was so unbelievably nice to re-establish some sense of order.  I was so happy to have my place back, I went right out to the local sports bar to celebrate.  (Jilly’s, the place where I go to watch the Steelers when they’re not on local TV.)  They were kind of surprised to see me; after all, it was 3:00 on a Friday, so I’m usually at work at that hour.

I promptly struck up a conversation with the 22-year old kid sitting beside me, talking mostly about the different ballparks we’ve been to, and whatnot.  I really have to do that more often… just go out and talk to whoever is around.

I did that Wednesday night too.  I had tickets to see the Orioles after work, and was meeting my boss down at Camden Yards.  But first, while I was sitting at my favorite ballpark bar (where Sitcom Kelly and I have VIP cards), I inserted myself into a conversation that was going on around me.  There were two frat brothers from Purdue, one of which had recently moved here, there was an older guy with his smokin’ hot daughter, and a very slick guy from LA, wearing a Yankees Suck t-shirt.  Next thing you know, we were all drinking together and sampling appetizers, and talking about ballparks we’ve visited, and sports in general.  I was having so much fun, I almost didn’t want to go the game.

Like I said, I really have to do that more often.  I see this becoming an integral part of the Summer of Bluz.

I met my boss in the “Misty” seats, which are definitely too good to pass up.  (My Blog Sister Misty gets a ticket package for the O’s each year, but can’t always go to all the games.  I’m her first call when she needs to get rid of the seats.

Can’t pass up Club-level seats…

But back to Friday night… As I was sitting down to relax, after a long day, I swear, every time I’d get up to pee, I’d smile like a monkey, knowing I no longer had to squeeze through the hallway, just to take a squirt.  I mean, have you ever tried to suck in your gut when you really have to pee?  I don’t recommend it. 

So I’m enjoying my nice cleaner, crisper place.  I still have to get some stuff back up on the walls, but I’m not going overboard.  This time around, I want to keep it classy.

My new, more open dining room, and reconstructed sectional couch.

I need to get something up on the wall there in the dining room, but I think I’m going to have a couple of my photographs I’ve taken put onto 16” x 20” canvas, and hang them there.  I saw a deal on Groupon…

I probably want to get a table or something for that spot beside my CDs, where that pile of stuff is in the 2nd picture.  And I don’t quite know what to do with the open spot in the bedroom.

By the way, it’s the camera that’s at an angle, not the bed.  Otherwise, I’d roll out every night.

I used to have a big wardrobe on the far left, but now I want to keep it on the right, so when I replace my TV, the old one can go on top of it.  (It won’t work on the other side, because I don’t want to have to run the cable across the floor.)

She had an easy chair and a ottoman on that side.  I really liked using the settee to sit on when I put my socks on, so maybe I’ll get one of my own.  Any other ideas for something to put along a mostly empty bedroom wall?

The back bedroom is completely empty.  I used to use it for storage, but I don’t want to junk it up again.  I plan to get a top-shelf air-mattress and find a small dresser, so I can make it an acceptable guest room.  I haven’t had an actual “guest” since 2009, but you never know.

Regardless, I’m excited about my new start. I’m sure it will get old being alone all the time, but for now, it’s just what the doctor ordered.  I have to remember to force myself to leave my cave though, otherwise I’ll just spend my days hiding out in there, and miss everything as life trundles on. 

Like today… it’s 60 degrees and sunny out, and I’m here typing away at my desk.  Perhaps a trip to Home Depot is in order.  I feel the need to spruce up the cave.

It’s time to get out of limbo and back into the fray.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The MOD Squad

This won’t be my usual kind of post.  And coming from me, that’s saying something, because I have a lot of different kinds of “usual” posts.  This won’t be an old story, new adventure, sporting event or political screed.  I don’t even intend any goofy word-play, but I can’t promise anything.  Sometimes things just pop out.  Word things, I mean.  Dammit.

I’ve always hated fundraising, ever since I was forced to when I was a kid, because it was required by my Little League teams.  I’d have to go out and knock on doors, trying to sell candy bars or leaf bags or something.  I hated every second of it.

I hate it even more now, because today’s kids aren’t allowed to knock on strangers doors to do their fundraising.  Their parents have to do it for them and hit up all their friends and co-workers.  Granted, I’m only mad about that now because I didn’t get to take advantage of it.  I think my parents made me go out there because they were secretly hoping I’d get kidnapped.  Then they’d move.

So since I’ve been a grownup, and especially since I’ve worked in an office environment, I’ve always stayed miles away from any fundraising activities.  At times, I’d be one of the few in the department that didn’t play.  Part of it was because times were tight and I didn’t make much.  Another part of it was I didn’t want to be sucked into the “machine.”  It’s one thing to buy some bake sale brownies or raffle tickets.  It’s another to put your name into the online registration site, knowing you’ll be pestered about it for the rest of your days.

Our company has two major drives each year, where the various departments compete against each other.   One of them is for the United Way.  I think I mentioned here before that last year, I finally ponied up with a contribution, because I found that I could funnel my donation into one of my pet projects (Planned Parenthood), to which United Way contributes.  (I picked the Planned Parenthoods of various states where their conservative governor and legislature are cutting funding.)  I figured that if I give to them anyway, why not at least stop being a mark against my department.

The other drive is for March of Dimes (MOD), which provides help for premature babies.  Now, I’m not one that gets all misty at the idea of “Oh, save the babies, oh my God, the babies.)  I’ve always been more interesting in preventing the babies, if you will, via Planned Parenthood.  I consider that ensuring the baby is wanted is the first vital step.

So, time marched on, my place in life became more stable, and most importantly, I picked up a new responsibility at work, in running the A/V equipment for various town halls, meetings and events.  That’s what put me in the room for the MOD kickoff event a couple years back.

People I know from my company got up and spoke very eloquently about their experiences with premature babies, and the direct help provided by MOD.  That year, I went online and for the first time, kicked in a couple of bucks.

Last year, my boss got up and spoke of the premature baby that she lost, of whom I had known nothing about.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including mine.  Luckily, the event organizers had enough foresight to distribute boxes of tissue around the room, ahead of time.  I went online to donate again, and upped my donation to the level where I could wear jeans every day in April.  (I actually had to go buy some more jeans.)  I was signed up for The March for Babies, technically, but I never intended to go.

Today, we had another riveting speaker, who had also lost a baby who was barely over a pound, at birth.  But more importantly, she had a second child, whom she was able to keep in utero longer, due to the treatment provided by the MOD. 
So this year, aside from donating, I decided that I’ll actually join the March for Babies in early May.  With my “Summer of Bluz,” I’ve been looking to do something to break out of my self-imposed ruts, so this seems like a good start.  I’ve been assured that I don’t actually have to “march;” regular walking will be fine.  Plus, they’re holding it downtown, so there could be the opportunity to have some drinks when it’s over.

The walk isn’t over yet… what are you doing at Hooters?”
Seriously, I have to re-hydrate!

The March is four miles; I think I can do that.  I know I walked three miles about 10 years ago, when I had to walk home from the subway. (I couldn’t get a cab).  Of course, I was good and pissed off, so I probably didn’t even notice the soreness until I was almost home.

My boss also spoke at today’s meeting; this time to suggest various ways to raise funds through our online accounts.  Now, in the prior years, I refrained from asking anyone for anything.  I have the hardest time with that.  I’d rather be anywhere than asking for something, especially money.  I know times is still tight.

But one of the ways she mentioned was through social media, and after careful consideration, I figured that was something I could do.  So here I am.

Now, I’m not going to hector you or harass you or try to cajole you out of your hard-earned dough.  I’m going to ask you once, and what will be, will be.  If you care to help me out here, or more importantly, provide help for parents like (most of) you, who are just trying to give their baby a shot at growing up, please click this link (now removed) to go to my MOD page.  From there, you can use a credit or debit card, PayPal, or even cash and check, to make a donation in the amount of your choosing.  Five bucks, a hundred bucks, whatevs.  It all helps.

I promise, after today, (well, probably this weekend), I’ll go back to being the same crusty, cantankerous, raconteur you’ve come to know and love.  Or at least tolerate.