Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Writing Inspirations

This guy Barry I know has a need web show project called, "Barry On the Spot'. He's tucked away in a studio with an instrument and in front of a web cam and the audience, of which I was a part of tonight for the second time, feeds ideas and withing the duration of the show - 30 minutes, Barry composes a complete song and performs it.

It's super interesting ans super fun to watch the creative process and be a part of it. Tonight was interesting because the final song ended up being something of a tribute to Davy Jones from the Monkees, whose death was the lead news story this afternoon.

What also ended up happening is that through this participation, I ended up coming up with an idea for a song as as of this moment, I've cranked out two verses...

My song has this guy talking about how he's failed to find his one true love, the relationship he longs for and all he can think about is finding this true love. However, he tells his story using titles, quotes and themes from Monkees songs - great fun!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blind Date #2

Following yesterday's post, I have yet another blind date story for you. Before I get into it though, this is the last of them, I've only been on two. Also, I plan to tell you the story as it happened, which might have you saying at the end things like, "hey, that was not very nice..." etc. Yes, you are right, it wasn't all that nice but it was pretty harmless as well and it's just the way it was - we were young and sometimes, a bit assy - now, the story.

This was not only a blind date, it was a double blind date. My friend Mike and I were to meet these two girls. So, we hop into my car and head over to one of their houses, where they were both awaiting in the back yard - where we were to all hang out for a while.

We get to our location, go toward the back yard and almost immediately, one of the girls springs across and yells in the direction of Mike, "Mike! You came!" The sheer look of terror on Mike's face was the first thing I noticed which was a sign to me to get us out of here as soon as possible. I don't want to be any more mean to this girl than we were on that day so I'll try to do this carefully - she was, scary - scary to look at and be around, this was evident in the first minute. Somehow, we were coaxed to continue into the yard where Mike was avoiding any and all attempts by her to make physical contact and I got my first peek at the girl who was "my" date. I don't recall either of the girls names but the one that I was there to meet was very cute, ans sitting on a large swing in the yard. I went over and introduced myself and sat next to her on the swing and tried to make some conversation.

The whole time, I was keeping an eye on Mike as he was really scrambling from this girl who was really hot for him in a way eerily similar to the creepy charachter played by Kathy Bates in "misery". The girl I was with turned out to be an extreme prude and very cold and full of herself, so it wasn't long before I too wanted out as much as Mike - who to his credit, hung in there to give me a chance.

Somehow, Mike and I had communicated that the jig was up so we got into a position where where were all standing around the in-ground pool and Mike and I then gave each other a sign, we pushed the girls into the pool and then ran for it. Before you make assumptions, we confirmed that both were swimmers and knew they weren't going to drown.

That's it! Mike and I got in the car, drove off to somewhere to get some beer and just hung out.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blind Date #1

This is a little story about a blind date I went on, oh, quite some time ago. It was set up by my friend Joe's mom, I don't recall the girl's name but do recall it being extremely Irish; not to mention, her intensely Irish family that I shall let you know about in a minute.

Of course Joe's mom, Ann, told me just how wonderful this girl was and how she came from such a nice family and how I'm such a nice guy and how perfect this is all going to be. I bought it all hook, line, and sinker because at least it took the pressure off having to ask and potentially be rejected, in the blind date scenario, the sell is done by a third party and even if the date doesn't happen, the rejection isn't real - so all you have left to focus on is the date itself. Oh, yeah, and just how beautiful (or handsome) is this person really going to be - I know, it sounds awful but it's reality - 100% of the time, I am just being honest about it.

The day of the date, I am pretty nervous but I go about my business when the time comes, I drive to her house, ring the bell (take a giant deep breath, look up and immediately negotiate with God to ensure I don;t pass out - likely offering something I could never really pay back). Her mother answer the door and in a thick Irish brogue, invites me in and asks me to wait as she finishes getting ready.

In the moment, I had tunnel vision as she led me to a chair in the dining room and the moment I sat down, my vision opened up to a house full of people. There was an enormous Irish-Catholic family surrounding me, staring at me, that all started tossing out questions and playing up their prize girl they were about to offer up to me (presumably if I answered the questions well enough to not have them instead carry me out to the back alley and beat me to death).

Mind you, I showed up on time only to endure this barrage for about 20 minutes (or what felt like decades) and at the moment the girl was ready, it became a production where the mother announced here like some Irish royalty was about to enter the room in Cinderella's ball gown. She was wearing a normal outfit, on par with the level of dress/casual that I was wearing. She was no Charlize Theron but she was certainly pretty enough, not that I had any right to be critical of her looks in any way (and I wasn't other than after all of the ridiculous hype, the mind paints a picture that could almost never be matched, I only hoped in the moment I wasn't an incredible disappointment).

After another, probably only 5 minutes but it felt like 30, we left, got in the car, and that's actually where it all began to go downhill (I know, right?). Regardless of nerves, I think I have a reasonably good personality and have the ability to carry on a conversation. Plus, when you are driving around with someone who you've only known for three to five minutes, there are plenty of questions and topics for conversation. Turns out though that this girl wasn't much of a social butterfly and had the personality of the dirt that a shamrock might be planted in. I don't think she said twelve words in the ride to the restaurant, I really should have just driven her back home but I too was nervous and just thought she might be reserved and would later open up a little.

I remember it was an Italian restaurant on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn but can't recall the name of the place or the food that was ordered. However, I do recall the awkward time lapse between reviewing the menus then placing our orders and waiting for the food to arrive. Every speck of conversation was initiated by me or there would most certainly have been complete silence the whole time. During the meal, again, I asked every question, she had none (I asked her if she did, her only response was, "no"). When the meal ended, I asked for a shot of Sambuca, she didn't what anything of the sort. Back in the car, drove her home then walked her to her front door. I think she said thank you for the dinner and I said good night then went to give her a pack on the cheek. I was so drained from this date, I had no intention of ever speaking to this person again and wasn't looking for anything. I was offering a simple, friendly, peck on the cheek. She backed away like a dragon was about to set her face on fire or Satan was about to kick into high gear, She turned the door know and said good night as she was entering the house, never turning to even look at me - that was the last I ever saw of her.

Later, Ann asked me about the date and I told her the truth. I was a bit milder than this - basically saying that we didn't really click and that I appreciated her thinking of me and setting in up (in reality, I was a little mad at her for setting me up with this girl with no personality whatsoever).

ANd that, was that.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Being a Student

I'm teaching a Saturday morning accelerated class. The class meets from 8:30am until 1:30 pm for 8 weeks. I've taught this class in the past and one of the things that makes it bearable, is more often than not, the larger percentage of students are committed and work hard. You would think there's real commitment involved when taking a class like this and while the larger percentage of students I've taught in this version of the class are, this first spring session has me puzzled.

I have a few students, which seems like, well, a few but considering there are only 6 students in the class, a few is a lot. Anyway, this particular few has a real problem with tardiness and as a result, they've missed out on the chance to submit a good amount of work, which will adversely affect their grade. Furthermore, today, five of eight weeks in, two of them just up and left mid-class (after arriving 10 minutes late at the start).

I made it super clear on day one my stance on tardiness and in this class, once you are in, there's no refund after withdrawal beyond the first class - if they miss another hour or two of class, I can't give them a grade...it's just throwing money away because they couldn't live up to the commitment of showing up for a class they paid for knowing the times the class meets.

So freaking odd.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Podcast: What's Up With Lobster Today?

Just rambling on about the Academy Awards, This Week With Larry Miller, Lobster, Chris Brown/Rihanna and more. Also, hear Tyler Stenson's version of "Hallelujah".

Listen here:


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OR - Click here to go to Podcast website to download, or subscribe (also available on iTunes).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Man Screwed By Dentist!

I had the rare luxury of not having to set the alarm clock this morning, which was nice. However, I did not go to work today because I had a dentist appointment to place an implant. Have you ever had a dental implant? I did, about a decade ago and now, just this afternoon.

I am having some work done to correct a birth defect which left me with two spaces where teeth I never had should be. I let these spaces be spaces for a long time - in fact, so long, that one of them is incapable of having an implant but the other is and today was the first step in getting a tooth where there never was.

Turns out that without enough novocaine, it really hurts when the doctor scrapes at your bone which he gained access to by slicing through the gum.

Surgery was successful nonetheless - now it's about healing for a few months before the restoration component, the actual tooth gets added.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ashes to Ashes

Alarm rang at 4:30 this morning, I went to work-out, had my morning protein smoothie then showered and dressed before making my way to church for a 6:30am Ash Wednesday service. Ash Wednesday is an interesting day, an "uncomfortable" one at times but for me, one that I take pretty seriously - or at least try to.

For me, it's not so much about the religious aspect, I think of it as a reminder of my mortality and a time where I publicly acknowledge my imperfections as a human - I have sinned, and I wish for redemption.

Now of course I could elaborate quite deeply about what this means but I'd rather offer it as food for thought. I realize throwing it out there makes me a target for being judged but I don't mind that so much.

The thing that threw me the most is that back at work, I got really upset with a student in the computer lab. He was completely wrong and disrespectful to the rules but I went off on him pretty good and while he deserved it, the way I did it was unprofessional and I was bummed out about it for a good part of the day after it happened.

The thing is, every time I went to the bathroom, I saw a reminder of what today was - the ashes on my forehead. Tomorrow, the ashes will be gone, in fact, as I write this at 11pm, there pretty much gone already. The one thing that remains, is what they represented and the reflections of the day taht I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pancakes for Supper

On this Shrove Tuesday, once again partook in the traditional Pancake supper, this year, taking it very literally by eating just one single pancake. Of course, I also enjoyed a delighful bowl of Jambalaya and a tasting of some Indian Food (I know, that seems random, but it was there, so I tasted).

I love that the whole pancake idea had nothing to do with religion but it was simply someting that best represented someting that is indicative of something indugent, and therefore not cosumed during the 40 days of lent that follow Shrove Tuesday.

I need to get some sleep, gonna try to go for ashes at the early service, which begins at 6:30am - yikes!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Rockin' the Vinyl

My daughter has been getting more into music of late and often asks me about the music I listen to, listened to when I was younger, etc. Yesterday, she asked about "the big records" so I decided to break out the turntable and some vinyl for a demonstration and lesson.

Together, we listened and enjoyed the following:

  • 7" 45rpm Cat Stevens- Another Saturday Night
  • 7" 45rpm  Jim Croce-You Don't Mess Around With Jim
  • Import 12" 45rpm single Iron Maiden-2 Minutes to Midnight
  • Import 12" 45rpm single Gary Moore/Phil Lynott-Still in Love With You (it's the b-side of Out in the Fields)
  • LP Steve Miller Band Book of Dreams - several selections
The album you see her holding in the photo above is literally the very first vinyl record I ever owned and I've had it in my possession since 1977. My pal Dan O'Connor noticed the ring-wear showing through - the record is in very good shape considering it's age and how many places its been moved around over the 35 years of its life.

This was a great experience to have with my daughter - she said something that made me feel so good, "I'm so glad you are my dad - you're so cool." This is what it's all about.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Friday Four Fill-In

This meme comes from this web site.

1. Sometimes I ____

2. I ___ high school

3. Deciding what to ___________________________ before I ___________________ is such a pain sometimes

4. _________________is my favorite_________________

And here are my answers:

1. Sometimes I want to leave my body and be able to observe my life hoping that I could gain some insight as to which direction I need to go from here.

2. I was so incredibly awkward in high school (but it was an amazing learning experience).

3. Deciding what to wear before I go to work is such a pain sometimes.

4. Bruce Springsteen is my favorite musical concert performer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter

Any idea as to what this is? I'll let you know tomorrow.

UPDATE: 2/17
Here's a different picture of the same:


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starbucks is the Apple of the Coffee House Industry

Starbucks is raising prices. Interesting, let's take the most expensive coffee (also the most overpriced) and raise the price, there's a great nod to the loyal consumers who shop their everyday. Yet another example of a large corporation not giving a crap about the very people that support them.

The brag about how they "give back" but what about what they take away? Their offerings are 100% driven by profit and profit alone. I recognize this is an important decision in commerce but don't tell me that you give a crap about me as a consumer, if you did, it would be easier for me to get products that are caffeine free and/or diabetic friendly at your establishment.

I have no problem with you doing business, just don't try to come off as holier than thou, you're no better than anyone else in business.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Few Moments from Karaoke Night

Here's a few minutes from the Karaoke Fundraiser I emceed on 2/11:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Japanese Baseball Geniuses

Over the last number of years, there have been a number of Japanese ball players who've managed to command millions of dollars just for the privilege of having a conversation with them about possibly signing a contract to play for an American ball club.

Once they receive this bounty, they often negotiate a contract guaranteed them many, many more millions of dollars. Then, for the most part, they end up being sub par players not worth any of the money they've been paid.

So, what's the deal? there are probably several factors that apply in some combination but in a nutshell, the game in Japan is different, it look the same for the most part, but it's different enough (structure of ball parks, pace, etc.) that stats alone are misleading.

So I find this interesting in that I am constantly complaining about how I hate that professional sports has become more of a business than a sport then here I allude to the less than business savvy of the same folks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stuff

Grammys-still on, some good moments so far. LL is a class act, Bruce rocked it, Bruno kicked it, Foo Fighters killed, I won't even talk of the crap.

Karaoke-Last night's fundraiser was awesome; I'll post some video and/or audio soon.

Volbeat-Tori turned me on to them earlier this year and I loved the one album I heard; I have three more en-route via Secondspin.com; I can't wait.

Pot Luck- I made a large Chicken and Orzo Fritatta for tomorrow's pot luck at work. If that sounds delicious to you, I'm fairly certain I've posted the recipe on this blog, just use the search feature.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

RIP Whitney

I'm just back from a spectacular karaoke night fundraiser and ready to talk about how great it was and how tired I am right now after teaching for 5 hours this morning then working on this fundraiser - I turn on the computer and the first headline I see is Whitney Houston is dead...I thought if I was going to be speechless it would be because I have nothing of a voice left but this too is pretty nuts. I know some may say it's not surprising, perhaps that's true, but when someone just about your age only a billion times richer and more famous dies, it stops you in your tracks. RIP.

Friday, February 10, 2012

(another) Untitled Post

I feel the winds of change as they blow through my life
Bitter moments, sure
Sweet moments - all that matter

Everywhere I've been thus far
and Everyone I've met
All that makes me who I am
No point in regret

The breeze right now has calmed itself to a subtle whisper
There's a longing, a desire, a hope
There are still distances and challenges to conquer

I've begun to find some balance
But there's still a significant void
I know you're out there somewhere
I think I might even know where

Can you hear me?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

How to Fix Professional Sports

I may have ranted on this at one time or another, but the most frustrating thing for me about professional sports is the idea that the number one priority isn't sportsmanship, it's business and the almighty dollar. I know it will never change - but it's changed the game in so many ways and 100% for the worse.

If it were up to me, there would be no long term contracts allowed and especially no guaranteed giant salaries. There would be a base salary structure, that all players are guaranteed. This base would be multi-tiered and only increase based on years of service. And, it wouldn't be in the millions either, I am thinking somewhere in the 100k for rookies to perhaps top off at 250k for the eldest of veterans.

All other earnings would be performance based and level across all teams and markets in the league. A rate for batting average, hits, RBI's, HR's, etc. A similar performance based structure for pitchers and fielding bonuses based on lowest number of errors across the league.

Using such a system puts all teams on the same playing field economically and the talent pool can be spread more equitably across the league instead of the current system which favors the teams with the largest bankroll. The incentive based pay would be motivation for the players to actually play the game instead of sit on the bench for a fake injury and still get paid bazillions for zero contribution.

I can dream if I want to.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The End of House

It was announced today that the current season, its eighth, will be the last. I've watched this show since the start and still love it. I find the writing and in particular, the characterizations to be stellar. If you think about it, the storyline in its skeletal form is identical in every episode - however, the characters are written so well along with the occasional twists that every moment is as compelling as the last.

While his series introduced me to the genius of Hugh Laurie, I've since seen some of his prior work. Of particular note is the series "Jeeves & Wooster" in which Laurie co-stars with Stephen Fry - a treasure for sure.

I'm curious to see whether Laurie might return to TV or focus on the big screen. Sad to see such a great show end but at least it never sold out (in my opinion).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Beignet Magic (Pictures Not Included)

Sunday afternoon, Vickie and I were hanging around killing time before the super bowl and because I occasionally like to come up with cool dad ideas, I said to her, "how about I make some beignets?" "Dad, you always come up with good ideas!" So off I went to get the deep fryer heating up some oil while I carefully mixed the beignet dough, then even more carefully rolled out and cut the dough.

First batch of four come out, quite excellently, I pull one out without sugar for me then liberally shake the powdered sugar on the other three for Victoria which she enjoys while I get the next batch in the fryer.

Next batch comes out and I pull out the powdered dark cocoa (unsweetened) and sprinkle a dash on a naked beignet fresh out of the oil while I add it to the powdered sugar for Vickie's batch and we enjoy while I get the last batch in the fryer.

This is where I go all genius on this dessert; magic if you will. By this time, Vickie wanted a breather and went into the living room to sit down. I pull the last batch from the fryer and get this idea to cut one of the beignets in half, lengthwise, then place a scoop if ice cream in the middle, serving it as an ice cream sandwich. Of course, I put powdered sugar on it then placed a dollop of whipped cream on the plate for dipping and presented it to my child for which she referred to me as a dessert genius insisting I open some sort of cafe.

Fun quality father daughter time before the super bowl.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Mixed Bag

  • Karl Lagerfeld is a jerk.
  • I am not going to watch the Academy Awards this year.
  • I wasn't planning to watch the Grammy's until I heard that Adele will be singing.
  • I'll be making a giant Fritatta for next Monday's pot luck at work.
Regarding the not surprising horror show that was Madonna's super bowl half-time performance, it was one of the worst ever. I've been a fan of Madonna's recorded music but have always resented her for not singing live. I think it's wrong when any artist lip syncs and at the very least feel taht it should be mandated by law that if the artist plans to lip sync, there should be a prominent warning before tickets are sold.

Ohh...brain i giving out...sory for the pathetic-ih posts of late.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Disappointed, but Moving Past It

I felt immense disappointment at the Patriots loss in the Super Bowl but as my daughter reminded me, "it's just a game". Eli Manning cemented his legend while I must say, as much as I hate too, Tom Brady distanced himself from his.

I'm going to remain brief here - there's not much more that can be said. I offer heartfelt congratulations to the New York Giants, especially the great Eli Manning. Good night.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Big Game

There so much anticipation and press surrounding the super bowl tomorrow and I too am filled with anticipation. This is one of those games where I can't wait - everything indicates that it should be a terrific game and that is what I am hoping for. I want the Pats to win but I also want a great game, something that the sport can be proud of, something that can serve as a great example of sportsmanship.

I have a great deal of respect for this NY Giants team, especially Eli Manning but there is so much riding on a Pats win and being a fan, I just want my team to edge out the competition.

Be happy and healthy, be safe, have a great time and may it be a great game.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Annie's Post

I have a friend from high school, Annmarie. Just under a year and a half ago, her husband died after a painful  battle with cancer. Today, she wrote a post on Facebook that I found very moving and I thought I would share it with you here:
* * * * * * * * * *
My Wedding Band
by Annmarie Clyne-Fowler

Its been 17 months since my soul mate was called Home by God. Johnny and I had an amazing life together! We laughed, we cried, we loved, we fought, we cuddled, we were a family, we loved our family, we made a family out of our closest friends, we raised children and puppies together, we shared our faith, our love, our lives with each other for most of my life.

Been dealing with being alone. I am not alone, I am surrounded by love, my family, my friends, my kids, my puppies but still feel alone sometimes. Just a season I must walk alone but still surrounded by the love of those still here and of all my angels in heaven. Tis a strange season.

I moved my wedding band to my right hand, still wearing Johnny's around my neck. I am a widow now Wedding band, on right hand, left hand, in a drawer, on a chain - it doesn't matter - I may be a widow but in my heart I am still married. Where my wedding band is doesn't matter, where my heart is does.
It really is strange, I am not legally married anymore, I have a new title being bantered around town of the "young widow", I am not yet single, just separated from my soul mate by death. A strange, weird, lonely, sad season of my life but tis a season. A journey I must walk alone for God has a reason I am going thru this season.

My wedding band is glistening on my right hand, reminding me of all the love and awe that I had from Johnny and still have. It is a reminder to me that God is wonderful and good. God lent Johnny to me and for that I am eternally grateful.

My wedding band is my strength, a symbol that love is true and that love is eternal. My wedding band gives me hope that one day I may be able to love again....not ever like my love with Johnny.that was a once in a lifetime love....but love is a gift from God and I know Johnny wants me to love again....
Tis a season of my wedding band.
* * * * * * * * * *


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Rough day at the Office

Today was one of those days where the coworker that always does annoying things that you just let slide or blow off ticks you the wrong way and aggravates you to the point where the blood starts boiling and you just need to let off the steam before it negatively affects your health (I recognize this is not perfectly written but I just need to get this crap out of me).

This coworker has over 20 years at the college and is 60 something, has two masters degrees and has eh same job title and job description as I however, is clearly not capable of doing the job any longer. I suffer because on top of my own work load, I need to clean up his mistakes and often take on projects he's clearly incapable of.

BREATHE....

On a positive note, it wasn't all that bad a day otherwise and I must say that simply having full-time employment and a job that for the most part I love is something I am grateful for.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

R.I.P. Don Cornelius

Soul Train was how I learned about "urban" music, it was the perfect complement to American Bandstand and for a kid that was totally obsessed with music, it's one of the things looking back that made growing up when I did special.

I know that Don Cornelius has been in poor health in recent years but to hear that he took his own life made me very sad.

I don't know much about the person Cornelius was but I know that he entertained me and helped build the foundation for the music that I have always loved and is such an essential part of my life.