Tuesday, November 30, 2004

3000 Miles of Sweetness


Sprizee Candy
This bag of candy traveled 3000 miles courtesy of the wonderful Sprizee. Thanks...you're too cool!

Sunday, November 28, 2004

After the Tryptophan

So here we are a few days after the Turkey and it seems many (including myself) have taken a short break from life (though I have spent two days removing leaves from my property using muscles that only get used to remove leaves and/or snow).

My family spent Thanksgiving over at the Jeffrey household. Amongst the company were two fellow bloggers, Jeffrey offspring and Rambler of a Literary Mind - Jill and Bryan of BMOConline fame. Dinner was awesome, dessert a delight, the company wonderful, and the games - lots of fun (who knew besides Jill that a dictionary could be fun?).

Though the "holiday" season has begun, I must confess that I hate Christmas. I spent a lot of my earlier years working in retail environments and it is just too difficult looking forward to this holiday of indulgence and materialism. However, today's sermon at church was very helpful in showing the separation between the commercial aspects of the season, and the spiritual one. Thank you to Rebecca for giving me some perspective that just may get me through this season.

I saw Scary Movie 3 last night and found myself laughing an awful lot, but the movie really isn't much of a movie as much as it is a collection of jokes and sight gags.

Perhaps I can encourage all of you as we come out of Thanksgiving and into this holiday season to think about those less fortunate than yourself and what you may be able to do to bring even a moment of happiness to someone you may not even know. It's a challenge that was brought forth to me and one I accept with hope that I can break free from the annual bout of depression I go through during this season.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it can really be shared by just about everyone, and I really like to take a breather from life and stop to think of all I really do have to be thankful for.

Amongst the many things I am thankful for, this year I am especially thankful to the people I've met in the blogging community.

Jill, you first, though we didn't meet through this blogging community, it was you who introduced me to blogging and without your influence, I may not have had the opportunity to know all these wonderful people. Thank You!

Jennifer, I love the blend of politics, music, and you that you share with us. You are so uniquely you and your blog has a very distinct personality and look that make it a really friendly place to visit.

Michael, You are a genius and a brilliant writer - truly among the best I've ever read. To see that big smile on your face in the photo with Jennifer was the one piece of the puzzle that was missing. I hope that the happiness and success you deserve find their way to you with constancy. Thank you for challenging my imagination and my mind.

Sprizee, you are simply deightful. You and your blog bring me constant joy. You're funny, witty, intelligent, charming, and just sarcastic enough to be a superhero in my book. Thank you for your blog, reading my blog, and the candy (though I haven't received it yet, I know I'll enjoy it).

Kate, it was great to get to meet you on Halloween. I can't thank you enough for defending my position and opinions. You are very funny and are one of the few people I've ever met who can walk around with broccoli, bread, and other food items attached to you (folks, she's not weird, she was a lint brush for Halloween and us drunken fools were attaching food to her costume unbeknownst to poor Kate)and not look completely ridiculous. You my friend, are good people.

Melika, you are one of a kind. A free spirit who is simply not afraid to be yourself and express who you are. Thanks for sharing yourself with the blogging world.

Jessica, if I was as smart as you are at your age, I'd be a genius today. You are funny, smart, and talented. Thanks for sharing your wonderful stories.

Joy, you share with all of us the wisdom gained from a lifetime of work, family, love, and your candid posts on cancer provide lessons and insight for all. Your courage and openness are an example as is your work as a teacher.

Everyone else who has read or responded to my blog, to those of my friends mentioned above, and the entire blogging community...may you all know how thankful I am for your presence in my life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

To stir up the inner workings of your mind...

You awake to discover that in 48 hours, the world will end. You are given the opportunity to do anything you wish in real time and there are no limitations regarding money. What would you do?

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Greatest Rock & Roll Band...

I really shouldn't start this post as my work day is about to begin and there is no way I can finish it right now. However, not one to shy away from controversial statements or voicing opinions - I'll get you all good and primed by making the statement and having you wait for the elaborate explanation...

"U2 is the greatest, and most important, Rock & Roll band of the last quarter century."

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday Shorts

1. I began a 4 week workshop at church today. It is my first time leading a workshop and it was an interesting challenge that appeared to be well received.

2. I got lazy at dinnertime and ordered a Pizza (with Pepperoni, from Papa Gino's).

4. Noting happened to 3. if you've been paying attention, there hasn't been a 3 for some time now.

5. I have plenty of paperwork along with papers to grade and have no desire to do either.

6. I've spent alot of time thinking about how Michael and Jennifer are getting along out there in California.

7. There's a delightful photo of Sprizee here.

8. My brain really hurts right now, so I am going to cut this short.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Day at the Park

It was the middle to late 1980's an I was attending college at the New York Institute of Technology, Manhattan Campus - which is located across the street from the (in)famous Central Park.

At that particular time, there had been something of a crime spree and as I was standing outside the school building during a break from classes, I peered across into the park and thought about the local headlines and how such a beautiful park could be so tainted.

For some bizarre reason, I also thought about how interesting it might be to write a poem using each letter of the alphabet in sequence and ending up with a 26 word poem. Might next immediate thought was, "what the heck word can I use that starts with the letter X(I'm not so sure "heck" was the word I used in that thought at the time)?" Fortunately, just behind me was an all-purpose pharmacy, soda-fountain, dry goods store. I entered the store and purchased a memo pad, a pen, and a pocket dictionary. I returned to my spot overlooking the park and feverishly flipped through to the X words and found the perfect word for the sentiments that were crossing my mind. "X-ing: (v) to wipe out...."

Having my x-word, I opened the pad, uncapped the pen, peered once more at the park and visualized the headlines of the day. Within 30 seconds, the following poem was written:


A Day at the Park

Aching
Beggars
Caught
Dealing
Eventually
Falling
Grossly
Hateful
Ignorant
Johns
Killing
Ladies
Narcotics
Oppression
Progression
Quitting
Regression
Stupidity
Tiptoeing
Under
Vagrants
Weeding
X-ing
Yesterday's
Zoo

Monday, November 15, 2004

Off the Top of My Head

The alphabet has been on my mind again. Years ago back in college I wrote a poem called "A Day at the Park" in which the entire poem was 26 words using each letter of the (American english) alphabet in order. Perhaps I shall share that poem with you one day in the future. However...

For some reason, that concept was in my head and the following mess simply blurted from my mind. Here what came from my twisted brain unedited for your _____________ (feel free to fill in the blank with whatever you feel appropriate).


Abject behavior curiously degenerates everything finally great hatred industrial junk knowledge loses miracles never obscure petty quiet radicals silently testify under vigilance waning x-radiation yellow zones

Sunday, November 14, 2004

It's Chinese for Dinner

So it's been a few days and I've missed you all but life gets in the way sometimes and comes off like one ginat run-on sentence in the middle of these Internets we call home here in Bloggerville.

I am experienced significant back pain today and will be going to the doctor tomorrow to investigate (it probably was a mistake to move a Piano at church today).

This isn't the third sentence because as I learned from Sprizee, there is no third anything - ever.

I recently purchased the following items:
-Spongebob Squarepants Cheez-Its (please, no comment)
-Licourice Altoids (This is not a misprint, in a lovely Blackish Tim)
-Smart Water (I had to check it out...turns out it really is smart, smarter than I in that it got me to pay money for it).

I recently switched Satellite TV providers from DirecTV to DISH Network and am happier (especially since I went for the DVR option which has changed my life).

I clip coupons, and sometimes rememeber to use them.

I'm heading out for Chinese, it's dinner in these parts.

Until next time...Who loves ya baby?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Booklist 2004 - Part 7

As it has been a while since the last installment, I will steal yet another terrific idea from Michael and include links to each of the first six installments.

Booklist 2004 Part 1
Booklist 2004 Part 2
Booklist 2004 Part 3
Booklist 2004 Part 4
Booklist 2004 Part 5
Booklist 2004 Part 6

Before getting into the six new reviews, I'd briefly like to mention how absolutely difficult I find this task to be. Of course, it was my idea so all I can do is blame myself. If perhaps I brave the concept next year, I need to discipline myself to write the reviews fresh after reading the book, one at a time instead of cramming as I do now (old habits are hard to break). Of course, to compensate for my own difficulties, in more cases I have chosen to quote others whose sentiments are similar to mine. To my surprise, I have received some nice feedback on these reviews and as such hope those who find something positive about them continue to do so.

43. Darkness Visible - A Memoir of Madness
by William Styron

Perhaps the most recognizable work by William Styron is Sophie's Choice, for which he wrote the book, and the screenplay for the 1982 hit movie. In this short, but intense book, Styron discusses his battle with clinical depression in an open and honest accounting from spanning the discovery of his illness through his recovery.

"In this short work (actually a long essay), the well-known author William Styron chronicles his descent into depression, his increasing suicidal fantasies, his eventual hospitalization, and his eventual recovery. Where many books on depression fall into the "self-help" genre, Styron's remains truly a memoir, with a very 'writerly' tone that sets it apart from more clinical books on depression." (L. Rephann, Brooklyn, New York)

44. Living History
by Hillary Rodham Clinton

This is a marvelous book about an amazing woman who pulls no punches. Hillary Rodham Clinton is who she is by her own design. The story told is one of a woman who is constantly rediscovering herself and redefining the concept of a progressive woman.

The book is exhaustive in taking the reader through her upbringing, young life as the daughter of a staunch republican, and herself a republican until her Wellesley college days where she switched parties, her time as a lawyer, a political activist (when she met Bill), into and through her marriage to Bill and her perspective of his political career, and of course, her years in the White House.

I left the book enamored with Hillary Rodham Clinton and in awe of her intelligence, her integrity, and her attitude. From where I write this, the 2004 presidential election is history and right at this time, I can see no better suited individual to become the president of the United States in 2008 than the author and subject of this wonderful memoir.


45. The Jericho Commandment (aka See How they Run)
by James Patterson

For some reason I don't recall much about this book and went to several websites to be reminded of the story.

Click here to read the commentary on Barnes & Noble's website.

Click here to read the commentary on Amazon.com.

Click here to read an excerpt from the book.

After reading the excerpt, the reviews, and commentary, I was only briefly reminded of the story and the characters. I do remember finishing the book somewhat unfulfilled. I do recall there being some vivid imagery but the characters fell short for me and overall, the book was a disappointment considering my fondness for Patterson’s work.

46. The Funny Thing is...
by Ellen DeGeneres

This is a collection of "comic essays" that are similar to the unique style of material DeGeneres delivers in her stand-up comedy act. I enjoyed this for a number of reasons: I am a fan of her comedy, I was in need of some laughter the day I read the book (who am I kidding, I am always in need of some laughter), and this type of reading helps to break the barriers between fiction and non-fiction and after reading as many books as I have this year, this kind of breakup was helpful.

To reiterate, if you are not a fan of the comedy material of Ellen DeGeneres, you may wish to stay away. If you've never heard her act, I recommend seeing her perform before reading this book.


47. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
by Robert Fulghum

Along with The Prophet and The Alchemist ,this ranks as one of my favorite books of all time. I remember when the book was first released and always saying that I wanted to read it. Well, fifteen years later, I finally did and am glad to have done so.

Fulghum (pronounced Ful-jum, not Ful-gum) tells stories that capture the essential elements of life by reducing each situation to its most basic fundamentals. Having worked as a cowboy, a folksinger, an IBM salesman, a professional artist, a parish minister, a bartender, a teacher of drawing and painting, combined with his role as a husband, father, and grandfather, Fulghum exhibits his collective knowledge with wisdom filled essays that touch the very soul of existence.

I came across a terrific review on Amazon that I'd life to share with you here: "Robert Fulghum has written a book of philosophy disguised as a book of anecdotes. Each lasts a couple of pages or so and is just enough to convey some important principle. They range from the trite to the inspirational, the mundane to the spiritual. Along the way he gives us his thoughts on grandfathers, God, children, giraffes, and just about everything you need to know. Some of his stories are about the man next door, others about famous people. Some are real, others made up, but they all convey universal truths. When you read this book you will probably think 'Hey I knew that already!' But all the same it's heart warming to have someone tell you in such a homely, friendly style. By the end of the book I felt I knew Robert Fulghum and would be happy to invite him to tea with me any time he happened to be passing." (Dave Farmbrough, London, Middlesex. United Kingdom)

If you haven't read this book, you really should do so immediately. Go to the library or the bookstore and pick it up (for a real treat, get the unabridged audio version and hear the stories and commentary by the author - it's quite extraordinary).


48. Live from New York
by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

I have been a fan of the show Saturday Night Live for most of its existence. This book is a unique and exhaustive history of the show as told by those closest to the show itself.

Imagine if you can every performer associated with the show including the guest hosts all crowded into a cozy room sitting around a fireplace in big comfortable chairs and talking about the show in chronological order. Someone speaks, another responds, and so forth. To me, that is how this book reads, like I am sitting in on the most amazing reminiscence among those who made the history I am reading. What an unusual, yet refreshing approach to captivating 30 years or one of the most important television shows in history.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hee Dee Dee!

Go ahead, say it again. When you first read it, in your head you probably said it so that you were speaking phonetically (Hee [slight pause] Dee [another slight pause] Dee [odd look comprised of either contorting your lips and forehead, making the famous dog head tilt often following a loud noise or some combination]). When you do say it again, let it flow from one sound to the next, Hee Dee Dee – that’s it!

Now, you may ask (while someone other than you is researching ways to have me committed to a loony bin), what the #$@* is Hee Dee Dee! Funny, you should ask because I was just about to tell you. However, be forewarned, this is stupid silly and bordering on silly stupid. So, if you’re not into that kind of gibberish, you may wish to leave this post now.

It was a regular day down at the computer shop. As regular as a day can be that is in a predominantly Russian neighborhood not quite in the bowels, but perhaps the lower intestines of my hometown of Brooklyn, New York. It was the good old days of 486 computers at the high end running DOS 5.0 and Windows 3.1. A lot of those older machines had separate controller cards that were used to connect the hard drives to the computer system. Stunningly, they were referred to as hard drive controller cards (just brilliant). Well, every so often, these hard drive controller cards or HDD Controller cards (as they were referred to by the inner workings of the computer), would occasionally go bad or fail. In another brilliant technological innovation, the error message that would appear on the computer screen when the HDD controller failed would read, “HDD controller failure”.

On this one, regular day, a young Russian fellow came running into the store in search of the service desk nearly knocking over several insignificant merchandise displays with his computer in his arms. Upon arrival at the service desk, greeted by myself, my friend Rob (to whom this post is dedicated), and Glen (the store veteran at the time), in all his disheveled awkward demeanor stuttered in his thick (I’m talking new bottle of Ketchup thick, and not the squeeze bottle) Russian accent “my computer has not work…it’s a Hee Dee Dee!!!”

“Excuse me?” uttered Glen, the lead man as Rob and I look on bewildered. Again, Gorby in an even thicker Russian accent repeated himself only this time, with a slight intonation of anger and frustration, “my computer has not work…it’s a Hee Dee Dee!!!” Glen requested that Lenin take a chill pill by telling him to “calm down, let me plug it in and take a look.” Mr. Kremlin began to flail about in what appeared to be an attempt at finding a comfort zone (or perhaps a short battle with an epileptic condition) and began to take shorter breaths (which was good because I may not yet have mention the halitosis problem that our fine Russian customer was sporting) as Glen, Rob, and I huddled around the booting computer in hope for a quick diagnosis.

After a few whirring sounds, a series of beeps were emitted and the following message appeared, “HDD controller failure.” Utilizing his apparent bionic ears, Stalin lept into a new frenzy and with the heaviest of accents began yelping “it’s a Hee Dee Dee!!! it’s a Hee Dee Dee!!! it’s a Hee Dee Dee!!!” all while pointing accusingly at the computer screen. Without the least bit of professionalism, Rob, Glen, and I just began to laugh as if we had just witnessed the funniest moment in the history of funny moments. It was as if time stood still as we laughed about until we were gasping for breath, our faces red, and liquid substances were oozing from an assortment of cranial cavities. Then, as we all began to compose ourselves as we noticed Ike (the boss) looking on in anger. Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking; he wasn’t upset at the utterly poor treatment of a customer and lack of professionalism. No, he was pissed off because he wasn’t in on the laughter with us; that is until we described the situation to him which got us all guffawing to the point of breathlessness once more.

Ivan the great would have no more of our shenanigans. In a fit of anger, our customer slammed his hand on the service desk demanding an explanation (he may as well have been requesting a fresh bowl of Borscht; we had no clue what he was saying half the time anyway). Glen managed to compose himself first (as Rob and I continued to be idiots) and explained to Mr. Trotsky that his hard drive controller had failed and we could probably replace it and get his computer working again in a short time. “How much cost?” replied Boris to which Glen gave an amount (the actual amount is insignificant to the story as you’ll see shortly, I can tell you it was a fair and competitive price). At this time, Leonid’s bushy eyebrows rose in an unusual manner and began to move in sync with his lips as he spoke, “No, no, no, I mean how much cost for me?” “Excuse me…” uttered Glen not in disbelief any longer, but almost in an obligatory fashion. Sergei repeated himself with increasing volume, “How much it cost just for me, you know, my price?” You see folks, this was typical of our Russian clientele, they felt that we owed them a special price simply because they (what follows is bitterness, not prejudice) deserved it because they could come to our country and figure out how to get food stamps to pay for their groceries as they stand in line at the grocery store in $5,000 mink coats when back in Russia they had to wipe their asses with their hands because they couldn’t afford toilet paper and yet still can’t be truly grateful for their good fortunes in this great and generous, and far too tolerant country of ours (and here ends the political diatribe portion of this post).

Fyodor eventually anted up the fee and left with his computer but we at Computer Software Plus, more specifically Rob and I, were left with so much more. A new, meaningless yet whimsical catch phrase with no meaning at all (I know I’m being redundant but it’s important to understand how meaningless the phrase Hee Dee Dee is, that’s what makes this so funny [to me, and I suspect Rob] and ridiculous at the same time to most of the rest of the planet) that instantly sparks laughter (to Rob and me) and confusion (to those who are victims of its utterance). Occasionally, we’ve been known to voice the words Hee Dee Dee repeatedly as if we were compelled to do so by some bizarre obsessive compulsive disorder for no apparent reason other than our own amusement. I’ve often responded to questions that either have no answer, whose answer I do not know, or especially to those I wish not to answer with “Hee Dee Dee!” I know, it’s stupid, but that does not stop me from saying it, repeating it, or finding it funny. In fact, all these years later, when Rob and I chat live or via instant messenger, every single time without fail it begins with a line that includes a "Hee Dee Dee."

One of my insane hobbies is to get people to say Hee Dee Dee. I’ve succeeded in a handful of states and in two other countries (Canada and Brazil). Rob’s wife Diane refused to say it before they were married but was so ecstatic at their wedding, that she actually shouted Hee Dee Dee proudly to her new husband and his slightly retarded friend me. I’ve had all of my nephews and nieces, and as many other young children who don’t know better to speak the words Hee Dee Dee. The kids seem to really love the “silly” phrase and will often go on chanting it for hours after their first introduction.

And now my dear reader, you have a closer look and the insanity of my world, I’ve scratched out nearly 1400 words on a topic that has absolutely no meaning and a barely funny (at best) story that after more than 10 years still makes me laugh so hard that I could sometimes need to remember how to breath. Sometimes it’s fun to be this stupid.

Monday, November 08, 2004

For the Sake of Blogging

Among other busy-ness, the interior of my house is being painted this week and everything is everywhere. YUCK!!!

Ultimately, it will look good but there's so much to do and so much going on and I really having nothing brilliant, funny, intelligent, or else to say. I'll catch up with ya soon.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Redemption

"Mile upon mile, got no direction.
We're all playin' the same game.
We're all lookin' for redemption.
Just to pray, to say the name."


Needless to say it's been a gripping 48 hours and the results of the election had left me deep in the Scream section of From a Whisper to a Scream. It's time to find level ground and start fresh.

Over the last few days on this blog and through comments on others I have expressed my rage and anger and used hurtful and horrible words. I have said things that quite frankly put me in a difficult position to defend myself or intelligently express my opinions about the current political state.

Today is Thursday, November 4th, 2004 and the president of our country today, and through 2008 is going to be George W. Bush. He was elected fairly by the people of this country and though I clearly disagree with an awful lot of the people in this country about the choice of GWB, ultimately, it is nothing more than a disagreement. There are certainly many of us who supported the Democratic ticket who know, are related to, and even love people who voted for George Bush. In 2008, GWB will leave office with no further opportunity to hold it again, but the people in our lives with whom we disagree will still be there. Is it rational to cast off relationships under these pretenses?

Today I sit here saddened at the political state of our nation, but have come to terms with that which I can not change and accept the fact that one of the things that makes living in America great is that each of us is free to make choices independently.

I am so grateful to my fellow bloggers and those who read and comment on blogs for supporting such an open forum. I am grateful for the wonderful friends I have who so passionately share ideas and creativity. I am extremely grateful to you, reader, for lending an ear to my voice and letting me know that you heard me; and for letting me know when you agree or disagree with what I say.

My greatest hope today is that we can find reason to look forward to tomorrow. Until then...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What Sprizee Said (My election 2 cents)

I've spent much of today being angry, sad, and depressed and saying a lot of really hurtful and bad things about the idiots (some 52% of voters) who voted for Bush. I am not sorry for any of what I said and in a way hope that these voters learn the hard way of their error and stupidity but more so, not at the cost of the sane 48% of us who could properly impregnate a chad, color in a circle, connect the dot, or whatever nonsensical, non-standard method of voting we endured to select our John Kerry.

Considering my feeling of rage haven't subsided much, I'll leave you with a link to the beautiful and intelligent Sprizee's thoughts which are almost a mirror image of the few moments of calm, intelligence that came from my lips today.

http://sprizee.blogspot.com/2004/11/mandate-except-not.html

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Johnny Damon Superstar

I just finished watching tape of Johnny Damon on the David Letterman show. Damon is one of my favorite ballplayers but after seeing this interview, I have so much more respect for this man. Damon was humble and respectful and simply oozed professional while still maintaining the personality we sports fans have come to know.

Good Example vs. Bad Example

OK folks, when my arch nemesis the Red Sox won the championship, did I cower, make excuses, or sob? NO! I called my favorite red sox fan and congratulated the team and the fans on a victory well deserved, well earned, and hard fought. I applauded the first sign of sportsmanship and true team spirit in years. I still applaud the team and the fans, however, I must request that someone beat the living crap out of Kevin Millar so as to maybe knock a little sense into the idiot.

Here a quote from Millar the Moron, "Before starting Game 6 (of the ALCS). It was about 35 degrees out there at Yankee Stadium, I went around and got a thing of Jack Daniels and we all did shots of Jack Daniels about 10 minutes before the game. And we won Game 6. So Game 7 of course, we had to do shots of Jack Daniels. And we won Game 7, so guess what? I'm glad we won in Game 4 (in the World Series) because these Crown Royal shots and Jack Daniels shots started to kill me. And that's how the Sox did it. Can you imagine (manager) Terry Francona taking a shot of Crown Royal before Game 4 of the World Series? It's out there now, baby - we were drunk."

The idiot went around and got a "thing of Jack Daniels" not a bottle, a thing. You know, I am an adult, and I really don't have a huge problem with a group of adults making bad decisions as long as they aren't hurting others. I am so disappointed in that one of the beautiful things to come from this world series are the wonderful lessons of hard work, teamwork, and sportsmanship. These are lessons the many kids watching the games could take with them into their own lives as they grow into adolescents and adults. Now, thanks to that schmuck Kevin Millar, they can also take the idea that getting drunk before the big game is how you can win ball games. Good job retard!

Election Day - 7:53 am

I am sitting on my sofa in my comfy green sweats, bed head, and unshaven. Today I feel the weight of the world as I sit terrified awaiting the final tallies and discovering who will be the president of our country from January 20th, 2005 and on through the next four years.

Once I submit this post, I will go up and make myself somewhat more presentable to the outside world and head off to vote for John Kerry. I pray that enough people will vote the same way so that we do not have to endure another term with that loser W. And yes, I am perfectly aware that we have no way to know how things will be with Kerry, what I am aware of though is what four more years of Bush will bring and I can't stomach that thought at this time.

So folks, let's get out and do the right thing today. Let's all take a leap of faith together and make John Kerry the next president of our country (and let's not forget that as a bonus, John Edwards would then be our Vice President).

I'll check back with you all later.