Thursday, December 8, 2011

Love is in the air....

It was brought to my attention by some people that my last blog about the things I hate in sports was not only harsh, but depressing to some. I don't want people to think that I'm only about the here are some things that I love about sports, playing and watching them.....

My favorite baseball player of all time is Willie Stargell. Bigger than life (I was nine when the Pirates won the World Series, so he was even bigger) a leader and an all around nice guy. I was only two when Roberto Clemente died, so I never saw him play, but both of them have been an inspiration.

Blake Griffin - From the first shot he made as a pro, he is a joy to watch. And he seems like a stand up guy. The Clippers are lucky to have him and better do whatever they can to keep him.

Troy Polamalu - Yeah, he went to USC, but being a Steeler trumps that. Gives 100% and is a quiet, well manner thoughtful person off the field. I like Hines Ward too because he has always been a fighter, but I can see where people dislike him for dirty play.

...there is no sweeter feeling than making solid contact when swinging a bat (with a baseball or softball, not a body part). When you make that type of contact, it's like a surge goes all the way up your arms as the ball rockets off deep into the night. Also, making a three point shot or a perfect pass when playing basketball thrilled me as much as an adult as it did when I was 10.

I consider myself lucky I got to see the following players play live: Magic Johnson, Mario Lemieux, Ken Griffey, Jr., Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Elway (in college), Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Jr., Hakeem Olajuwon (college and pro), Frank Thomas, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Larry Bird, Kevin Mchale, Jaromir Jagr, Tim Duncan, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Parker, Andrew McCutchen, Junior Seau, Ladainian Tomlinson, Charles Barkley, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Elton Brand and Sam Cassell (yeah, he doesn't really belong on the list, but he was so fun to watch off the court as well as on it).

Players I didn't get to see live but wish I did: Clemente (of course), Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Jack Lambert, (basically a lot of Steelers, who I would see at training camp, but I've never been to an actual Steeler game), Joe Montana, Dell Curry (he was my favorite player for a long time wow he could shoot), A lot of boxers (never been to a live boxing match), Macho Man Randy Savage (although I did see Polish Power Ivan Putski, which would make Jason Hoffman happy), Sidney Crosby, Pedro Martinez (although he gave me a piece of gum at an Angels game) and Earl Anthony (man that guy could bowl).

I've read a ton about sports When I was a kid, I would to to the library one block away from the house and get any sports books on the shelves (basketball, baseball and football basically). Some of my favorite sports books (fiction and non fiction) are:

The Breaks of the Game - David Halberstam
A Season on the Brink - John Feinstein
North Dallas Forty - Peter Gent
Ball Four - Jim Bouton
Semi Tough - Dan Jenkins
Instant Replay -Jerry Kramer
The Bronx Zoo - Sparky Lyle
Heaven is a Playground - Rick Telander
Loose Balls - Terry Pluto

And I got to read Jim Murray in the LA Times growing up. And now I get to read J.A. Adande.... :)

Sports movies - Caddyshack, Bull Durham, Raging Bull, The Natural, North Dallas Forty (again), Hoosiers, Rocky 1-3 and I'm sure a bunch more....

I got to play some sports with famous people, not often athletes, but a lot of TV and movie stars, which may be a good idea for a blog sometime, there are some good stories involved there.

I love talking about sports with my friends. Back in the day, it was a constant conversation, but thankfully, we've evolved and talk about a bunch of subjects, but we used to sit in a restaurant and talk for hours about all kinds of sports. A little sad, but fun.

I don't play any sports anymore. I stopped playing basketball about 4 years ago and softball shortly after that. I sometimes feel a twinge of regret and want to drive down to Lincoln JHS and play a couple games, but I wouldn't make it a couple trips down their much shorter court. I keep saying someday though and until then, I'll watch, and read and talk about sports until I'm old and gray, which shouldn't be too long from now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

sometimes, it's so easy to hate....

I've said in the past the things I love, I love with everything I have and the things I hate I hate with the intensity of a thousand suns. Of course, there's a lot of middle ground out there. Hate is a really strong word and when I say I hate certain people, it's only because of their lengthy track record of self involvement and belittlement of the public that sets my blood to boil. For example, in entertainment (because if I talk about politics, all hell would break loose), when I see a press conference where Madonna gets flowers unsolicited and complains about the type of flower she gets, I hate. I see Jennifer Lopez shoot a commercial driving a car she wouldn't be caught dead in talking about going back to "her block" in NYC but the commercials were shot 3,000 miles away in L.A and I hate. I see the worst strain of the stage mom virus (Kris Jenner and Dina Lohan) pollute their older children and I know the cycle is going to repeat itself with their younger kids and I hate. But even entertainment is not nearly as black and white as hatred is in sports.

I haven't written on here in a while and the reason I was going to write was because I'm home by myself. My fiancee is visiting family in Wisconsin and I've been noodling on the computer and watching shows on my DVR. In between shows, I've seen less than a minute of the USC/UCLA game (I figured USC would win and I can't stand them). I saw two plays. When USC went up 20-0, they passed for a 2 point conversion...which is bad form in itself. Then at the start of the 3rd quarter, when they were up 29-0, their QB threw a long pass going for the end zone that was incomplete. I turned off the TV because it would only work me up. Apparently, they did the same exact thing on the next play and have kept on doing it, as the score is now 50-0 and the first string is still in throwing bomb after bomb. And their fans are going batshit crazy and cheering them on with every point they run up. The hater in me says that it's because they are all a bunch of self entitled douchebags who have a proven jackass as their coach. Lane Kiffin got into coaching football because his daddy was successful and he has failed upwards into possibly the top coaching position in college football. He is the George W. Bush of coaching, surrounded by quality assistants who hide the fact he is a socially and mentally inept jerkoff who failed on his own with Tennessee and the Raiders. Now, if the tables were turned and UCLA was winning by this much, I know their fans would be rooting for them to hit 100. That is what being a sports fan will make you do sometimes.

I am well known among my friends for hating not only teams, not only players, but fan bases as well. I hate them truly, madly and deeply. And yes, I am a hypocrite, I love players who have done things while wearing my team's colors that I would spend hours ranting against if they played for my teams rival (Ben Roethlisberger comes to mind). I was born in Western PA, and love the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. I am also a Clipper fan. I have been so basically after Magic left the Lakers and they started bringing in players like Nick Van Exel, Elden Campbell and the loathsome Kobe Bryant. I've suffered through hard times (The Pirates haven't had a winning record in 19 years and the Clippers have had flashes, but been mostly inept). Thankfully, the Steelers and Penguins have won several times, but there are some cases where I would rather see certain teams lose than my team win. I revel in the schadenfreude that takes place when the Lakers get swept by Dallas, or when the Raiders are 2-14. I see someone who roots for Duke crying on the sidelines and I squeal with glee. I hear USC is on probation and I will actually strut. But it used to be a lot worse. As a teenager and in my 20's, I would get physically ill if bad things happened. When Neil O'Donnell threw that second interception against Dallas, I punched a hole in my bedroom door. Now I can calmly say the receiver missed O'Donnell's sign to him to run the hot route. When the Ravens came down the field and won a couple weeks ago, I didn't lose it. It didn't follow me in my interactions with people the next couple days. People brought it up at work and I was calm and said the Steelers didn't deserve to win. In the old days, I'd have bitched for an hour about the DB's or how Ray Lewis is a murderer (allegedly).

Yes, I guess hating is more of a young mans game when it comes to sports. That being said, a list of the people and teams I truly detest:

(others receiving votes - Frank McCourt (but he's out of sports now); Brian Wilson (enough already); Bud Selig (see Brian Wilson); Jerry Sandusky (there's a special place in hell for people like you); Roger Clemens (I used to love watching you pitch, but you've ruined it over the last several years);

10. Barry Bonds - I will use the words of a journalist to describe him - "if I got a phone call from Barry Bonds and he said he wanted to give me an exclusive one hour interview telling the world he did steroids, I don't know if I would do it, because it means I would have to spend an hour with Barry Bonds"

9. Duke Blue Devils - from the fans, to their ratfaced coach, to the same 12 McDonalds All Americans playing every year, yet still expecting to be called the underdog. It started with Hurley and Laettner (nobody ever liked him) and then J.J. Redick to Kyle Singler to the three Plumlee brothers who must have lived near a nuclear plant.

8. Washington Capitals - Fuck Alex Ovechkin

7. Chris Berman - You should have quit 10 years ago. You were getting tiresome then, but at least you hadn't burned out the last strand of goodwill you had with the public. You are a one trick pony whose trick wasn't that great to begin with. Yeah, Bert "Be home" Blyleven was cool when he was playing (he stopped in 1992). "He...could...go...all...the...way" was innovative, but you need to switch out your cliches every 100,000 uses. For God's sake, you used it in a Hootie and the Blowfish video (in 1995). And when someone calls you on it, you are so offended. Let some other people do their schtick, your 15 minutes was over 20 years ago.

6. Donald T. Sterling - I am a Clipper fan in spite of him. This penny pinching racist asshole will never sell the team, and he will never put in enough money to win it all. But I love players like Elton Brand and Blake Griffin who worked their ass off for him so I watch and root and he reaps the financial benefits. I got a call a couple weeks ago to ask if I was interested in Clipper seats. I told him to call me the day after Sterling dies and we can talk.

5. Raiders and their fans - At Tony P's where I used to watch football every week, one of our favorite things to do was yell out "Raiders suuuuuuuuccccckkk" when they made a mistake. It happened a lot. What I really hate is this whole Raiders mystique Al Davis tried to perpetrate. When we were 14, we went to the Raider/Seahawk AFC championship game, My brother wore his little Seahawk t-shirt and was threatened by a group of adult Raider fans. Combined with the stories of beatings that took place, I sincerely hope the Raiders don't ever come back to L.A.

4. Baltimore Ravens -The Steelers/Ravens rivalry is blowing up now. I hate the Ravens, and the fact that the Steelers knocked them out of the playoffs three years in a row tickled me. Ray Lewis (you know what he did) annoys the shit out of me.

3. USC and their fans. It's weird that one of my favorite players (Troy Polamalu) went there as he is the antithesis of a Trojan or their fan base. Loud, obnoxious and entitled sums up my feelings about the University of Spoiled Children. And there's a new breed of asshole that comes in each year. T.J. McDonald is holding up the modern USC standard of douchebaggery singlehandedly, taking the title from Bush and Leinart who took it from others all the way back to O.J. Simpson (just about the worst person on the planet). I think my hatred of USC has to do with living in Santa Monica as I was growing up. Westwood was right there, USC may as well have been on the moon. My brother, fiancee and best friend all graduated from UCLA. Basically we all pick a side and I chose not to be a douche.

2. Laker fans - Least knowledgeable fans on the planet. Who cares about the showing up late, the Staples Center is in the middle of a traffic nightmare, but when you show up, don't whine about every call or foul and for God's sake read up on the sport you are watching. Instead we have a bunch of people who watch the games in a cursory fashion because the real fans can't afford to pay for the seats in Staples. But the ones outside are just as bad. Listen to an hour of L.A. sports talk radio and you will see the levels of stupidity that coarse through Laker Nation. Once you've heard let's trade Luke Walton and Derek Fisher for Chris Paul and draft picks fifteen times or that WE are all haters because we don't give up enough love and respect to the Lakers. And anyone who is able to root for a team Vic the Brick roots for is a moron by definition. I feel terrible because I loooooooved the Showtime Lakers. But once and for all, Magic is the best Laker ever..and stop answering questions about why you are going to win because someone scored 81 in one night. Which leads me to......

1. Kobe Bean Bryant - smug, self important, puts himself above everyone else, makes mistakes but still has the balls to bitch every time something doesn't go his way, gave himself a nickname because no one likes him enough to do it. Wears out his welcome with everyone who wants to play with him. (He is a talented player, no doubt, but listening to him each day must be like Chinese water torture on the brain, he ran out Shaq and Phil twice) Not only an alleged rapist, but he broke the man code by selling out Shaq after he was caught in Eagle (dude, you got caught, don't try to take focus away from you by saying, er, um, Shaq cheated on his wife too) and then you went out like a little bitch and bought a 4 million dollar apology ring. By the way, wasn't she like 17 when you met her? And whatever you have is contagious, because I hear she's a raging bitch just like you. Just because you stick your lower jaw out when you run doesn't make you a tough competitor, it makes you look like an idiot. You will never be Jordan....


See? Hatred in sports comes so easily. I'm worked up now, I'm going to go read a book or something to calm down.

Friday, August 20, 2010

America's taste in music has sucked a long time.....

I love Sporcle. It's a trivia site where you can answer questions on a wide range of topics with varying degrees of difficulty. From the starting lineups of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1992 - 2010 to the words to the Soft Kitty song from The Big Bang Theory, basically anything anyone has an interest in, they have a quiz for it.

Anyway, I was going through it tonight and I came across a new music quiz - Can you name the popular artists who have never had a #1 song? It then had a list of songs, the years they came out and the performers peak on the Billboard chart. Here's the page the quiz is on then an example with the answer:

Can you name the Popular artists who've never had #1 Hot 100 hit (1955-present) on the Billboard chart? - sporcle

As I went through the quiz, I was amazed at some of the artists who have never made it to #1. After taking the quiz, I went to the Billboard charts to first make sure that was the case, then come up with a list of some of the worst songs ever to be #1. Here's what I came up with.

Singers/Bands that never made it to #1:

Peaked at #2
Bruce Springsteen
Green Day
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Bob Dylan
Moody Blues
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Tom Jones
Johnny Cash

James Brown
The Cars
Sarah Mclachlan

Led Zeppelin
Steely Dan
Alanis Morissette

Garth Brooks
The Pretenders
Willie Nelson
Bonnie Raitt

The Kinks
Little Richard

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Joni Mitchell
Jackson Browne
Crosby, Stills and Nash

The Clash
Lynyrd Skynryd
Grateful Dead

Talking Heads
The Who
Patsy Cline
Van Morrison


Below #10 - Elvis Costello (19), Jimi Hendrix (20) AC/DC (23), Ella Fitzgerald (27), Bob Marley (51), Black Sabbath (52).

I'm not a fan of some of these people. I'd rather hear the sound of my teeth being drilled than a 29 minute version of Truckin' by the Grateful Dead or some Bob Dylan. But that doesn't mean I'm not stunned to hear that they were never #1. And I can't figure out how bands like The Who or Metallica and especially James Brown or Springsteen never made it to #1. You would think that the music that did make it to #1 had to be brilliant, moving pieces that raise the spirit and yet also compel you to get out on the floor and shake that ass. But no!!!! There are songs that have been #1 that are among the worst ever put to record, tape, CD or MP3, with one song so noxious, so foul, that it placed a stranglehold on our nation for months at a time.

Here are some of the so-called best songs of their era:

Disco Duck by Rick Dees

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Chuck D said it best.....

Rollin' by Limp Bizkit - I know no one who ever liked Fred Durst. His mom probably changed her name

We Built This City by Starship - Maybe the worst song is another....

Batdance and Cream by Prince - Now I love Prince, but both those songs were pieces of crap

4 songs for Jennifer Lopez - Wow....each one suckier than the last. What does she bring to the table now that Kim Kardashian has brought forth an ass for the new millenium?

Believe by Cher - South Park said it best, no need to add to it.

Gettin' Jiggy Wit it and Wild Wild West by Will Smith - Good thing the acting worked out. These were probably why there was no theme song to Hancock or I am Legend.

My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion - and my stomach will lose all that is in it.

Butterfly by 311 - wow, just unforgettable tripe, Insipid poser rock. Made me long for the stylings of Sugar Ray. (not really)

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith - made me wish for a second I was Canadian

How You Remind Me by Nickelback/ With Arms Wide Open by Creed - Overwrought, fake singing and self importance coming out of its pores. A Christian band like Creed will make you question your faith in a deity that allows a band like that to celebrate in his name. Scott Stapp should have been hit with a lightning bolt years ago.

I can't really comment on most songs since 2008 because I've never heard of most of them. But that stupid Kesha song(I refuse to put a f'n dollar sign in her name and can't find the cent sign) was #1 this year for 9 weeks. But the worst abomination ever perpetrated on American music was a song that was #1 from July 11th to October 16th in 2009. Yes, the Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling". "Born to Run" never made it to #1, but this piece of shit with lyrics lifted from a 3rd graders notebook was #1 for OVER THREE MONTHS!!!! And you know what band was #1 for almost three months before that? Yep, the f'n Black Eyed Peas with a song called "Boom Boom Pow"that was #1 from April 18th to July 10th.. I never heard it, but I have to believe it's better than Baba O' Riley, Brown Eyed Girl, Smells Like Teen Spirit and Even Flow combined.

For just under six months, America's ears were hijacked by some of the worst prefab crap ever made. And combine that with the fact that Fergie had 3 #1 songs by herself before that and it makes me want to puncture my eardrums. Thankfully "My Humps" only made it to #3, or I may have lost faith entirely.

H.L. Mencken was right when he said "No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public". We all like to think that the time we were growing up was so much better than it is now, but musicians have been throwing crap against the wall for years and we've been buying it. It's a matter of personal taste, but you can't tell me that Purple Haze is not as good of a song as Ghostbusters. But people looking back hundreds of years from now will see which one of those was a #1 song and we as a society are worse off for that.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I once stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona

While setting up for what seems to be her 563rd garage sale in the last five years, my mother came across my expandable file that I used to keep my records in back in the mid 90's. Some things were interesting (paystubs from when I was a bank teller/New Accounts Rep at Bank of America pulling down a hefty $7.45 per hour, a card from my mom, autographs from several Pittsburgh Pirates who all pretty much sucked) and there were some things that I couldn't throw away fast enough because they brought up bad memories.

In one of the pockets was a small folded up sheet of paper. On it was a list of cities starting with Monroeville, PA (Wednesday 10:00 AM) all the way across the country until Los Angeles, CA (Friday 10:00 PM). It was the list of cities I rode through as I took a Greyhound Bus across country over the longest 36 hours of my life.

I had been living with my grandmother for 8 months in the quiet little town of Bovard, PA after my mother and I decided we needed some space apart from one another. 3,000 miles was just about far enough to make us both comfortable at the time. During those eight months, I was able to piss off both sides of my family, get a 104 temperature from shoveling the walk after the biggest blizzard in 15 years wearing shorts and flip flops, work at a Burger King and get one of my female bosses fired for doing what was so eloquently documented in the song "The Humpty Dance" by Digital Underground, bear witness to history as I saw O.J. drive his white Bronco down the 405 while sitting in a bar where the DJ started a chant of "Go O.J. Go O.J.". start drinking again after being sober for almost two years and basically have a breakdown/realization that if every person you know in the world is angry with you, maybe it's because of you, not all of them.

At this point, I reconciled with my mother and she said I could come home if I went back to college and got a job. I readily agreed and my father said he would pay my way back to L.A. A plane ticket one way was $103.00 and it would have taken 5 and a half hours to get home. However, a 36 hour ride through the bowels of hell with Satan's minions was only $79.00. So, for the hefty savings of $24.00, he bought me a bus ticket. (BTW, I had to have my bags shipped to me, if I rode on the plane, I could have brought them with me as bags flew free then. My dad paid $41.00 to ship the bags...not a financial wizard was he).

The following was the list of cities I rolled through and stopped at over those 36 hours:

Monroeville, PA
Pittsburgh, PA
Wheeling, WV
Cambridge, OH
Zanesville, OH
Columbus, OH
Springfield, OH
Dayton, OH
Richmond, IN
Indianapolis, IN
St. Louis, MO
Springfield, MO
Tulsa, OK
Oklahoma City, OK
Amarillo, TX
Albuquerque, NM
Gallup, NM
Houck, AZ
Holbrook, AZ
Winslow, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Camp Verde, AZ
Glendale, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Blythe, CA
Claremont, CA
Los Angeles, CA

I only remember a few things from the trip. I sat in the back of the bus basically the whole way across the country and I think I slept about 23 minutes. Except for a 4 hour layover in St. Louis, the longest the stops were was about 15 minutes. I got out in Winslow, AZ....walked to the nearest corner....stood there for a second and felt like I had made my obligation to the Eagles paid in full. I ate candy bars because none of the terminals had a restaurant until I hit Amarillo.

From Amarillo to L.A., there was this little kid, about 4 years old, whose name was also Kevin. He wore a Bart Simpson t-shirt and raised hell the whole way. As he ran back and forth on the bus and crawled around, he got dirtier and dirtier and his shirt went from white to black. I myself smelled like an outhouse after Woodstock. My smell was getting to me, but no one else seemed to notice. By the time I hit L.A., I had a full beard, my hair was matted down and sweaty and I hadn't changed clothes in two days. Thankfully, there was no paparazzi at the bus terminal.

Seeing my mother and brother, I was so happy to have made it home. Looking back, I feel like that trip was the final threshhold between the person I was and the person that I soon became. I was changed after that, still had some problems, but at least I realized I needed help and it was time to start my life in earnest. I look at the other Kevin as how I had been acting and I left him behind on that bus. We walked out and Part Two of my life had just begun.

A final note. My mother was driving us home and I was sitting in the passengers seat as we made our way thorough a particularily seedy part of L.A. We stopped at a light and there were a group of 6-8 men on the other corner. They got up and started walking towards the car. My mom was oblivious to my telling her to go and finally, I reached my leg over and hit the gas pedal myself. We shot off into the night and a crisis was averted. :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Let's play catch up, shall we?

I haven't written a blog in a while. Actually it's been like a year. I don't know exactly why, maybe it's a lack of motivation on my part, but I am going to make a concerted effort to bitch here once in a while so the two or so people who read this can catch up on the ABC's of me.

Lessee, what's happened. I went back to school and finished my degree. I'm particualarly proud of this because I went to class everyday and didn't do too badly (Dean's List my second semester, combined GPA 3.5). My fiancee, friends and family had a lot to do with pushing me to show up and get it done. And I met some great people there too. Not that I'll probably ever see them again, but the fact they allowed someone twice their age to hang with them was nice of them. Maybe because I did a lot of the work, especially study guides and such. I was even older than some of the professors (up to 10 years) and some didn't get some of my references because they were outdated. That always makes someone feel good.

Speaking of age, I turn 40 in a couple months. When I was a teenager, I figured I'd be married by 27 and have some kids. Then when I was in college, I said 32, then when I was working, I said 35. I met the fiancee 5 1/2 years ago and we've been engaged for almost 2 years. It's not because we don't want to get married, it's just that the job situation has been ridiculous. After getting laid off 5 times in 2 years, now I only get offers to work at half the salary I was making before, which is basically what you get on unemployment. And if you were in the mortgage industry, it's like you are cursed and no one wants to hire you. There's a definite stigma.

Anyway, oh yeah, marriage. My friends are marrying and having kids and I want to be a part of that so badly you don't even know, but there's no logical way to do that if I'm not working. I had some promising leads, and some people said I was going to get hired, but then poof, the offers evaporated. I'm sick to my stomach about it on an almost daily basis. I feel like a burden on my fiancee and family. But we all will get past this, I know someone wants me. I hope someone does that is. I read there was a guy who sent out 847 resumes and finally got a job making half of what he made before. I'm at about 500 or so, and it's getting to be close to that time.

Both parents got sick this year and had to have serious surgery. I've always looked upon my mom as this force of nature, she was able to raise me and my brother by herself and handle everything work and life threw at her. Right before her surgery, we went to Paris for a week and she walked miles and miles all over Paris and Versailles and left me in the dust, a whimpering baby who couldn't keep up. So to then see her laying there in a hospital bed wrecked me. She's a lot better now. She's even going back to work next week. Like I said, she's really strong. Dad's ok too, he's been beating the odds for many years for many reasons.

So what am I doing while I look for work? I'm reading a lot of books, like one or two a week. Right now I'm reading Doyle Brunson's autobiography, which is cool. I also read a Bill Russell biography that was really good and can't wait to read the sequel to the Presumed Innocent book. I'm filling out applications and sending resumes and I'm trying to work out. I started a 30 day program on my Wii and I can feel some results already. I hang with my brother and fiancee. I try not to call my other friends that much because they have their own things going on. One just had a kid, one moved in with his girlfriend, one moved, one is buried in work cause it's his busy time of the year, etc. It's not like when we used to meet every Wednesday at Jerry's Deli or Enzo's and had dinner. I miss that, but I also know we grow up and apart eventually. I know if I needed them, they are a call away.

I didn't set out to be depressing, so if I was, I'm sorry. I will be getting to some more enjoyable subjects and I promise to blog a lot more. It's good to get stuff on

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fiberglass, Santa Claus and Lebowski

When I was 25, I moved back to Los Angeles from Western Pennsylvania where I fell off the face of the earth for nine months. There are stories from my hiatus that definitely need to be told someday, but not this day. I dabbled around in the temp world and tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I took some classes at SMC, but mostly I hung out with friends and did whatever work came my way. I usually worked long term temp jobs. I worked six months for a firm that designs stuff with your company logo on it, you know, t shirts, foam rubber houses with Century 21 written on them, golf balls, etc. I worked for a guy who was a class A dickhead. He even threw a paperweight at my head one time because he didn't like the phone call he had just gotten off of even though I had nothing to do with it. Apparently he didn't like me and the only reason I stayed as long as I did was because they wanted to keep me on the company softball team. Once the season was over, I was sent back to my temp agency.

I worked at different places for two years. One day, I helped remove fiberglass from an office building roof and throw it away. They didn't give us gloves to do the work and it was 90 degrees, so we were in t shirts and shorts. It was verrrrry itchy. One day I was Santa Claus at the Westside Pavilion. That was cool in the fact they paid 12 bucks an hour and I met Loni Anderson and John Ritter (God rest his soul). It was like an episode of Love Boat. But I shaved before I put on their beard, and you shouldn't do that, because the stuff they put the beard on with works better with some stubble, which they didn't mention in the first Simpsons episode when Homer was a Santa. (Comet, Dixon?) I got a rash on my face that stayed for a couple days. It was verrrrrry itchy.

Finally, I got placed as an assistant apartment manager in Westwood for two buildings across the street from each other on Wellworth with 125 units. I was going to make sure the units were in shape and if there was work to be done, I was to call in people to do it. I just had to show open units and collect rent checks and make small talk with the tenants. In return, I was going to get a discounted apartment (after 120 days) and a pretty fair salary at the time. And this was a big company with room to grow. People all over were leaving individual buildings and working for the main company....I had a job with some potential.

Cut to two months later. There was a guy I met named Razz. He worked at L.A. Fitness a couple blocks away from our buildings and was looking to move in. We went through the process and he was going to be approved. The day before he signed his lease, it was pouring buckets of rain. He had all of his stuff in the back of a Datsun truck. He asked me if he could put the stuff in the apartment one day early. I said OK. Annnnnddddddd....I got fired. Apparently you can't do stuff like that. To top it off, I had made friends with a woman in one of the units, we went out and I liked hanging out with her. After I left, the manager told her all I did was talk about how I was going to bang her....and she believed him....classic dick move.

Well, Razz's boss, Chris, felt bad for me and asked me if I wanted to sell gym memberships. You had to bring in 5 people on your own, then you could get on the rotation list. After two weeks, I brought one. I was just taking the hourly and while I tried, no one wanted a membership. I was going to the UCLA campus every day until finally one Saturday, I went and saw The Big Lebowski instead. Chris knew I was not cut out for it and he recommended I call his friend who did mortgages in L.A. I'd be making more in salary than I ever had plus commission on deals I closed. I got the job and was going to start working in the business I've been in for the last 11 years. And that will be part two of this story, cause it's late.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Society is fucking ignorant...or the Taken kiddie matinee

I have never been a fan of Valentine's Day. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my parents were married on that day. If you knew the trainwreck that that turned out to be, you wouldn't want to celebrate a day like that either. Combine it with the fact that, except for the last few years, I have been single on that day, it's a no brainer.

Well, this year, my darling Michele had to work from 7-7, which means usually 7-9:30 or 10:00 depending on the patients. I, of course, had no complaints as while I may be a hopeless romantic, I still don't like Valentines Day. So, instead, I was going to go see Taken with my good friend Andrea. We had dinner right before it opened and both said how much we wanted to see it. Despite the reviews, I still wanted to see it.

So, the movie starts at 4:00. Andrea lives two minutes from an AMC Theater in Woodland Hills. I don't like to go to the AMC, I am an Arclight man all the way. I like the idea of selecting my seats before I get there and not having to deal with the assholes who show up 30 seconds before the movie starts and ask "Duh, iz them seats taken?" Why no....150 people walked in here and sat down in other spots because who would want to sit in halfway up right in the middle? Thank God you are here to take the bullet for us on this one.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Andrea doesn't like the AMC either, but I had free passes and she had a gift card there. We figured that in the third week of showing, and with a half hour to get there, things would be dandy. I had parked illegally in their lot, but I figured who cares, only going to go in, get her and leave. I get back to the car. Try to start it.....fucking battery is dead. No problem, we'll take our friend Gillian's car. Gillian is her roommate and a wonderful woman, but had no intention of seeing what she called Schindler's Pissed. The problem was, we had to move the car into her spot. I drive a 2005 Toyota Camry. I had no idea they weighed 173,000 metric tons. I pushed that car about 30 feet up a slight (meaning almost negligible) incline and I was ready to puke up a kidney. Thank God there wasn't a speed bump as I'd be writing this from the hospital.

Now we have 10 minutes. We get in Gillian's car and drive to the mall. The place is packed. We look for the Valet. There's a sign, there's an umbrella. We wait 30 seconds and realize there is no valet. Because why would you have one on Saturday night, and a supposed holiday to boot?

We open the door to the mall and there is a line 40 people deep to get to the ticket booth. Fuck that, we mosey over to the credit card machine and get tickets. It's a 16 theater setup...there is one guy ripping tickets...........slowly. Thankfully another guy shambles over and we hand him the tickets.

As I said, 16 theaters....our movie is in the 15th....which is like a broom closet with a screen. The place is packed. There's seats in the front row and that's it. We contemplate motion sickness but then, like a VD miracle, some people get up and leave several rows back. We sit down with 3 seconds to go before previews. I have a large diet coke and we have a large popcorn. I am in flavor country and quite content.......

The previews suck. State of Play has Andrea cursing Ben Affleck. Apparently the BBC version is the tits and they are fucking it up. There's one for Miss March about some guy who falls into a coma on prom night right before he's about to get some ass. He wakes up four years later and his girl is a Playmate. Hijinks must ensue. Hefner looks like a wax statue.

Since the previews are sucking, I look around the theater. Sitting next to me is a child and her dad. The child appears to be about 7 or 8. To the left of me is Andrea, then two kids about 6 and 8 who are sitting by themselves unattended with no parents. Then, a guy walks in and sits in the front row pushing a stroller. I check my ticket stub. Yep, Taken, not Hotel for Dogs or some other kiddie movie. Isn't this movie supposed to be violent? Let's see.....

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing thematic material, sexual content, some drug references and language.

Yeah, that's the movie to take your kiddies to. But it's none of my business. I smile at the little girl munching on her popcorn and she smiles back. The movie starts.......

And for the next 30 minutes all I hear is this.

"Daddy, who is that?"
"Daddy, why is he running"
"Daddy, did he stab that guy?"
"Daddy, who is that again?"

I'm going out of my fucking mind. I hate hate HATE it when people talk in the theater. I give the father a death stare and he leans over and whispers to his daughter. The guy in the front has the sense to leave the second his infant starts to cry and we never hear from them again. Then the daughter starts playing 20 questions again.

"Daddy, is that the Eiffel Tower?"
"Daddy, who are those guys"
"Daddy, is he a good guy?"

I look at Andrea and see that there is an open seat on her left. I leap over her and sit down, and sigh the sigh of contentment. But then I remember there are TWO kids on this side of me.

They begin to kick one another. Andrea is shushing the little girl I had shielded her from before. I lean over and look at the kids and half whisper "quit kicking each other now and watch the movie" and glare at them. For some reason, they got up and were never heard from again.

I liked the movie. I would have liked it a lot more if some parents weren't so fucking stupid as to bring their kids to this movie. Was it their Valentine's Day gift to their kids? Here you go honey, let's go to a movie you have no clue how to follow and may have nightmares about the shootings and stabbings and the guy who was hit by a truck. Enjoy it, then we'll go eat dinner. I know people need to get out. I've heard stories about R rated movies where couples bring infants to the movie and don't leave when they start crying. That should count for immediate dismissal. I hope to be a father soon and when I do, I'll just not go to a movie with my kid until they are old enough to go or if it's a kiddie flick. Because I am a considerate fucking guy. But there were at least 10 kids in the theater and that is unfuckingacceptable.

At least the night ended well. The AAA guy came and brought a battery with him, which worked out well because Gillian and Andrea checked and there were no places open. We all went to Kate Mantilini's for dinner and then went over to Corbin sing karaoke. Gillian has her version of Epic by Faith No More up on her Myspace and apparently my version of Fiona Apple's Criminal was taped, so maybe I can get a copy of that up.

Sometime, I may talk about the different people who go to this karaoke bar because it's funny, but I'll save it.