Friday, May 29, 2009

Dear Neighbor Girl,

I realize you are 18 or 19, and in your eyes an adult. I realize your dad is out of town, and having just finished your freshman year at the local state university, you want to blow off steam. I also realize that you definie blowing off steam as "drinking copious amounts of cheap macrobrew beer," using the word "fuck," every other word, and using the official Drunk Girl Mating Call ("WOOOOOO!") constantly throughout the night, with about 2-15 of your closest friends.

However, I would like to offer the following suggestions:

* When this social gathering is taking place, please understand that while you do not have school on the following Tuesday morning, the folks next door might very well have to work (I say "might," because there IS a chance they are unemployed, but you don't know that do you?) that morning.
* Because of this, having this party until 2:30AM in the back sunroom of your (dad's) house with the windows open might not be the best way to generate goodwill with your (dad's) neighbors.

I do appreciate the fact that unlike your last part, I did not have to throw cans of Natural Light from my front yard into your (dad's) front yard. Unfortunately, when my 10 year old daughter comes into my room at midnight complaining that she can't sleep because you are having a party, that doesn't make it better. If anything, tossing empty beer cans into your (dad's) front yard is kind of fun in comparison.

I know for a fact that your dad is a born-again Christian. This is not to suggest he doesn't enjoy having fun, I know he likes the occasional decent beer, and while he's kind of a goober, I know he likes to kick back and have fun. However, I'm reasonably certain if he's not the kind of guy that will decorate the house for Halloween due to the un-Christian atmosphere of that day, he probably wouldn't like his daughter walking around his house, beer in hand, yelling things like "Woooo!" and "Fuck that fucking shit!" with 2-15 of her closest friends.

So, please know this....I once tolerated your Natural Light cans in my front yard, because it gave me satisfaction throwing them back, especially if you missed them and your dad came home and saw them. I again tolerated your loud party through your open windows, because I remember (amazingly) what it was like to end the first year in college and celebrate both the success, and access to alcohol. However, the next time I am up until 2AM on either a weekend or a weeknight because I'm hearing "Wooo!" all night long, one of the following (or a combination of the following) will happen:

* You will see a crazed Suburbanite male, possibly in boxers and sneakers, outside your house with a boom box playing German Biergarten Musik, with the volume on ELEVEN.
* Any empty containers left in my yard will be held by me, removing your opportunity to do early morning cleanup, until you are gone and your dad is home, at which point I will stack these containers in a pyramid shape on the railing of your front porch. If no containers are in my lawn, I will get them from your garbage can. If I have to, I will use my own from MY recycling can and totally frame your ass.
* Your dad, whose cell phone number is programmed into my phone, will receive a phone call from me at 2AM at which point I will say, "hey Rick, are you home? No? Then who are these people?" And I will either send him a camera phone pic of your party, or simply hold the phone up to his house so he can hear you yell, "Woooo! FUCK!" I might even lie and say, "Rick, your daughter is running around your backyard shirtless while all the boys at the party are yelling "Go Chelsea! Go Chelsea! Go Chelsea!" Or, even better, tell him one of those portable stripper poles is set up in his sunroom, and you apparently have amazing leg muscles.

Hopefully we are both in accord on this issue, and there will be no further transgressions.

Warmest Regards,


Thursday, May 28, 2009


I went to my barber today at lunch to get a much needed hair cut. They had ESPN on, and ESPN was showing the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

The redneck at the next chair was complaining that they were showing spelling on ESPN (he spent the entire time calling all the Indian kids “Patel”). I pointed out that it was a hell of a lot better than poker. The woman cutting Cletus’ hair turned and said, “Clearly you’ve never played Texas Hold ‘Em before.”

(Nope, never have and never will). I responded, “Poker on tv is nothing but video footage of guys wearing sunglasses, laying cards on a table. These kids are a 50 cent cab ride from having an emotional breakdown on national television, hell YES it’s better than poker!”

Everyone in the establishment agreed with me. The woman cutting my hair (who has been my barber for about 3 years) already saw my way of thinking, when we witnessed the following:

* A 13 year old boy of possible Greek background (his father is clearly northern European descent, but his mom has that Mediterranean Islands look to her, complete with facial hair), with a moustache. Apparently, I missed the 13 year old with blond hair and a full beard.
* The young Indian girl, also 13, immediately after the moustached kid, had a better ’stache than the boy before her. Not only is her moustache better, so is her spelling.
* A 14 year old Indian girl who, upon getting dinged for mispelling a word, responded with a bemused “Oh.” I realize it’s hard to get anything from a 2-letter monosyllabic word, but her facial features said, “Thank the good Lord above I am done with this bullshit.” Her parents, who appeared very traditionally Indian, actually looked like they had a similar thought in mind.
* Why do some of these words even exist? One of them was “hebdomadal.” Definition? “Occuring every week.” Oh. You mean…..weekly?
* One of the words was “stapp.” She asked the announcer to use it in a sentence. I said out loud, in the barbershop, “Scott Stapp is the shitty lead singer for Creed.”
* Another kid got “Santeria,” which is a Catholic religious ritual in the Caribbean. It’s also a song by the defunct band “Sublime” (the lead singer dying of heroin often makes a band defunct). The kid asked the guy to repeat it MULTIPLE times, and use it in a sentence, and definite, etc etc. At some point, kid, just say “I have no fucking clue.” Well, he took a whack at it, and mispelled it (it’s not Santaria). I predicted to all in the barbershop that when he returned to school, his smartass friends would leave a Sublime CD on his desk. That song is probably older than the kid, but it still gets radio airplay, unfortunately (I say this because Sublime sucked), so he SHOULD know it.
* The guy reading the words sounds like an even bigger know-it-all than Alex Trebeck.
* A suggestion I made to the barbershop occupants: Have a NASCAR spelling bee. National TV, have all the drivers in NASCAR in a spelling bee. “Dale Jr, spell “hebdomadal.” “Do what now?” Juan Pablo Montoya, spell “stapp”. “Que?” My guess is only Ryan Newman would do well, since he’s got an engineering degree from Purdue University. Of course, he coud still be a shit speller. Still, we need to make this happen.

I didn’t see anyone fainting this year, unlike last year. But, it was entertaining nonetheless, and I now have half a dozen people convinced that the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee is one of the highest forms of entertainment on TV. In the summer rerun season, anyway.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recipe for Disaster

This is my recipe for disaster:

1. Take 4 pounds of frozen shrimp (tails on), 2 pounds of andouille sausage, a bag of red potatoes, several white onions, and about 8 ears of corn, cut each one in half.

2. Put them into a turkey fryer, with about 3 gallons of water. Cook the potatoes and onions first, then the corn, then thrown in the sausage, and then throw in the shrimp for a couple of minutes.

3. Serve a delicious Low Country shrimp boil to a houseful of guests on a Memorial Day weekend (Sunday). Be sure to have lots of beer, rum, and vodka.

4. On Tuesday evening, remember that you forgot to clean out the turkey fryer. Go to the garage, remove the lid from the fryer, and choke back the vomit that fights its way to the surface as you stare into 3 gallons of murky water with a few onions, a chunk of red potato, and 3 small pieces of sausage.

5. (This is very important) Dump the fetid mess as far from your house as possible, and still be on your property. I suggest this, because you don't want it near your residence, and pouring it into someone's backyard is just wrong. However, if you're right on the property line, and most of it splashes into the next yard, well, accidents happen.

6. Rinse pot out with garden hose outside, before taking in and cleaning with hot water and soap, to avoid coming into contact with rotten sausage residue.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Braves Game Recap

As I mentioned last week, I was at the baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, May 16. This was my first Major League Baseball game in 13, so a lot has changed. The last time I went to one, it was at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Yankee Stadium was falling apart then. They averaged several million per year in attendance back then, which is a lot of people using the public bathrooms.

Turner Field, where the Braves play, was originally Olympic Stadium for the 1996 Olympics (you know, the Olympics where Juan Antonio Samaranch said the games were "most exceptional," as opposed to "the greatest Olympics ever," which he used at every. other. Olympics), and was converted to a baseball stadium, since there is no need in Atlanta for a massive track and field venue. It's a pretty nice facility, lots of red brick, huge video screens everywhere (you can see the game from a giant screen that faces the parking lot), and amazingly, everyone was nice. Driving into the parking lot, I passed 4 different parking attendants who all said, "enjoy the game!" There's no way in hell that would've happened in New York. Up there, the only pleasantry one is likely to get is "keep it moving buddy, you're holding up the line!"

Inside the ballpark, it was People-Watching Central. Almost to the point of sensory overload. But again, people were a hell of a lot nicer. The ushers at each section would occasionally throw candy into the crowd of kids. At Yankee Stadium, I was sitting in the bleacher section, surrounded by (aside from the co-workers with whom I went) people who were probably in prison as recently as that morning. I remember one incident where people in the bleachers were shouting at a beer vendor in the box seat section, and he was shouting back. Eventually, the vendor reached down and grabbed his balls, which caused the heathens ladies and gentlemen in the bleachers to cheer. This was followed shortly afterwards by a chant from the bleacher section, "Box seats suck! Box seats suck!" over and over again. And, whenever a "Wave" was started, the chant was "Keep the Wave in Shea! Keep the Wave in Shea!" referring to Shea Stadium, the home of much more civilized fans the New York Mets, which is the team I always followed.

I did see one young woman at the Braves game wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and Ugg boots. It's nice to see she was finally able to escape her dad's basement sex dungeon after a 10 year imprisonment, now if only someone could help her with current fashion.

As we were leaving the game, right after the 7th Inning Stretch (an American baseball tradition, where "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is played....basically, an excuse for the grounds crew to rake the dirt and make the field pretty for the final 2 innings) my family went into the women's bathroom, and I waited outside for them. While waiting, I saw a young woman off to the side with, presumably, her boyfriend. She was crying, trying to shove him away, and saying things like "oh my God it was so disgusting," followed by more unintelligable garbling and weeping. Her boyfriend, the entire time, kept hugging her close, telling her "it's OK baby, it's OK," and trying to kiss her. Each time he would bend to kiss her, she recoiled from him, but he'd still lean in. It honestly looked like he was trying to make out with a rape victim. Considering his inability to read body language, he is not likely to survive if he ever gets married. Anyway, after a minute of watching that uncomfortable display, the boyfriend left her to walk towards me, with a very pissed off look on his face. It was then I realized I was about to witness someone getting their ass kicked. I turned as he passed me, watching where he was headed, and saw a group of men in their late teens, early 20's, standing near the railing (we were on the upper deck, and if you were to leap over or get thrown from that railing, you would fall a couple hundred feet to your probably death). When he was about 20 feet from that group, one of the guys intercepted him and tried to get him to calm down, and the boyfriend was shouting at one of the guys in particular. My guess is, it was an alcohol related incident, and the one guy likely did something foul to the girlfriend, like show her his genitals, or the contents of his 401(k) retirement portfolio. My family eventually returned, so I didn't get to see how it played out, but like most suburban white guy fights, I'm sure it ended with everyone calling one another "bro," and the boyfriend going home to try and have sex with his devastated girlfriend.

Lastly, we had dinner at Turner Field. We ordered the following:
2 large hot dogs
2 hot dog kids meals (small hot dog, drink, coloring book)
2 large sodas
2 pretzels
Total: $42.50 (this would have been the same amount had we ate a sit-down dinner at TGI Fridays, Chotchkies, Flingers, or some other casual dining restaurant).

The Braves were losing 5-0 when we left with 2 innings to play. The final score was 12-0. So, these overpriced ass clowns are paid in part by the overpriced concessions at the ballpark, and they get their asses handed to them 12-0? I'm glad they lost.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Star Spangled Banner

In the United States, all professional and (I believe) university sporting events begin with a common occurrence.....the playing of our national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." It was written as a poem, and later put to music (to the tune of an English pub drinking song)....and awkwardly so, so the majority of folks in the US don't know how to sing it, and don't know the words even if they did. I tend to simply stand straight, remove my hat if I'm wearing one (covering your heart with your hand is not a requirement of etiquette), and look towards the flag.

The only time there is any deviation from this is when there is a game between American and Canadian ice hockey or baseball teams, and they play "O, Canada" as well (some teams play "God Bless America" instead, as per tradition).

This past Saturday night, at the home Atlanta Braves baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the "Star Spangled Banner" was sung by no less than the school chorus of the elementary school where Thing 1 goes. Thing 1 also happens to be a member of this chorus, so minutes before the game started, she and her classmates were on the perfectly manicured field, singing their best and most important performance of the year (they do a Braves game every year). Of course, as you can see by the picture, nobody was there yet, most of the crowd was still in the parking lot drinking (the chorus is the group of kids with the light pants and blue shirts near the first base dugout).

I've seen Thing 1 do some amazing thing....scoring the game winning goal in soccer, make some amazing saves at goalie, run a 10 minute mile when she was 6, but I have to say I have never been more proud. It's not an easy thing to perform in front of a large crowd, with people watching you, even if you are part of a group, but she did it, and did it well.

Enough about her though. This was the first Major League baseball game I've been to in almost 20 years, and my next entry will be about all that I saw, so stay tuned.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Commuter of the Day 5/18/2009: Multitasker

This is a Mercedes Benz C320 Kompressor.

As you can see from the photo, the woman driving it clearly has her left hand to her ear, holding a cell phone.

What you can't see, because of the angle at which I held the phone, is in her right hand she is holding some sort of breakfast sandwich. I happened to be driving alongside her for the better part of a half mile, and never once saw either hand touch the steering wheel.

Of course, it could be argued that it wasn't the brightest thing in the world to take a flash photo of a driver who is doubly distracted, as the added distraction could have caused her to swerve. We were on a 4 lane road, right near I-75 (a busy interchange during morning rush hour), so an accident would have crippled the commute from the Northwest suburbs.

But mostly, I was just trying to capture how this woman was driving with no hands, and also how she looked like she fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Bus Stop

Each morning, I go outside as my elder daughter, Thing 1, goes to the bus stop across the street and waits for the school bus. I'm usually out there with mug of coffee in hand, and I walk down the driveway to get the newspaper and hang out, reading the front page, waiting for the school bus, and just in general being there in the event bullies jump out of the bushes and scare the kids.

Thing 1's bus stop is one of the last ones on the route before the bus heads off to the school, and often times, throughout the year, a car will come zooming up behind the bus and drop off a kid or three, who apparently missed the bus. The school is only a five minute drive away, but it's a hell of a lot easier to deposit the kids at one of the last stops in the neighborhood. Often, the mother is slightly disheveled, hair not done, sometimes wearing slippers or whatever Crocs were sitting by the door.

Today, a red Ford Expedition pulled up behind the bus, and the mother got out to open the back door to let 3 kids out. She was wearing pajamas, which consisted of tight grey pants, almost in a yoga pant style, with a thin grey top, showing a midriff of about 3 inches (no lower back tattoo...I looked), spaghetti straps, obviously no bra, and hair that was hastily pulled back in a pony tail. This of course showed off lots of shoulder, neck, and a grand display of chest salad.

My brother, who lives in the heart of New York City, can't imagine living anywhere other than a big city. I, on the other hand, could never live anywhere other than Suburbia. Especially during the school year. When the weather is warm.

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth

-Neil Peart, as sung by Geddy Lee, "Subdivisions"

Geddy obviously never experienced the joy of watching a pajama-clad MILF trying to catch a school bus for her kids. Of course, he's from Canada, so they were probably wearing coats even in June. However, in the Desperate Housewives era, I'm perfectly fine living in a subdivision.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Pinnacle of Comedy..... hearing a Mexican woman try to describe how a famous Latino pop singer was busted while masturbating in the first class section of a commercial flight to Miami, and is now in jail.

Especially when she doesn't know the word "masturbating," or the PC term "pleasuring himself."

Good friends of ours are from Mexico (he works in IT for a multinational corporation here in Atlanta, and a soccer teammate of mine, she teaches Spanish at the same preschool where my wife works). Their English is very good, but she somehow never learned the words "masturbating," "fapping," "jerking off," etc. So she had to describe it to her husband in Spanish, who then snickered, turned to me, and said, "Ahem.....pleasuring himself," while the wife nodded her head, smiling.

We were on the back deck of a Mexican restaurant late on Saturday, and the song being played was by this singer, and she said, "he's in jail now," and proceeded to struggle with describing WHY he was in jail (mostly because our kids were around, otherwise I'm pretty sure she would've just done the hand motion). Once I got all the details out, I said, "So, this Mexican singer was in first class, commercial flight, and masturbating, with a woman sitting right next to him?"

"Yes," the wife said. "Except he's Puerto Rican, not Mexican." "Ahh," I replied. "That explains it. A Mexican would never do that in first class (the wife shook her head no, agreeing with me). He would be in coach." (the husband nodded his head, agreeing with me).

Commuter of the Day 5/11/2009: If this van's a-rockin'

As the saying goes, "if this van's a-rockin', don't bother knockin'."

Well, now we know what that kind of van would have as far as a vanity plate goes.

As you can see, Joy Van likes to take it in the rear.

The only thing this van is missing is a bumper sticker that says, "Gas, grass or ass, nobody rides for free."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sharing with the Neighbors

Recently, we purchased some kind of large plant for the backyard, and it came in a cheap plastic pot that you usually discard once you get the plant in the ground (don't ask me what kind of plant....I think it began with an "H").

The disposable pot was left in the backyard until garbage day. We got a ton of rain recently, and forgot about it, and it filled up with water (along with a bit of potting soil still in it). Yesterday, my wife picked it up and carried it to the side of our backyard, where there are some trees, and dumped it out. Out poured the water. Out poured the potting soil. And out poured a very dead rat, covered in potting soil.

(It's OK, you can shudder, I know I did when I heard this story)

I'm guessing the rat climbed in for some stupid, suicidal reason, and couldn't get out and drowned.

The disposal of dead animals tends to lie on my back. When our cat Kramer died a couple of years ago (while sleeping on our bed), I had to lift him up and wrap him up to dispose of him at the vet. When our neighbor's very large Ridgeback/Doberman mix died, I helped another neighbor (the owner is a small woman and is not moving a dog that is sheer...ahem....dead weight) move him out of the house before their daughter came home from school and saw the dead dog on their kitchen floor.

On another occasion, a bird flew into our back glass door, breaking it's neck. I recalled my disposal method on that occasion, and decided to dust that one off and try it again. It involved this:

At 9PM last night, under the cover of darkness, I went outside with a shovel. I scooped the rat up with the shovel and carried it back to our back fence. Because of the shape of our streets, there are four houses that border our backyard, and two others whose backyard is maybe 20 feet away. So, perfect lacrosse style, I flung the dead rat hard, trying to clear the immediate neighbor's backyard and landing it 2 houses away in thick brush.

Unfortunately....because when dumping dead animals, there's almost ALWAYS an hit a low-hanging branch in the yard next to mine, which stopped the rat mid-flight, causing it to drop right there, less than 10 feet from our fence. So there lies the rat, not far from our fence (fortunately covered in fallen pine needles, and if not, then I'll throw a shit-load over so that it is), much too close for my comfort. Not that it'll come back to me, but just because I don't want dead things near my house, it skeeves me out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Conversation With the Dental Hygienist

Yesterday, I visited the dentist for a scheduled teeth cleaning. This was accomplished using what is basically a small pressure washer. And suction. Lots of suction.

The hygienist looked at me funny, and said, "You know who you look like upside down (she was sitting sort of behind me, so her view of me was upside down)? You look like the guy from Sixteen Candles, Jake."

I responded, "I don't remember him being upside down in that movie. Anthony Michael Hall, under the glass table, yes, but not Jake."

I am rarely told I look like any celebrities, but Jake Ryan is a first. Of course, according to IMDB he hasn't been in anything since 1991 (I was half expecting to see a list of soft-core porn films), so calling him a celebrity might be a stretch.

Ironic Commuter of the Day 5/5/2009

I saw this guy on the way home yesterday:

What caught my eye was the SPIRIT7 license plate (there's a website of the same name, dedicated to providing spiritual fulfillment on the internets). But then I saw the two stickers on the trunk. They're hard to make out, but one of them says "26.2". The other one is "13.1". These are the distances of a marathon and a half marathon, respectively. Much like seeing an AT sticker on a car indicates the driver has hiked the Appalachian Trail (or at least bought the sticker), these indicate the driver is a serious distance runner.

So why the hell is he driving? Why not run/walk to work, and help save the environment?

Of course, as you can see from the long line of cars in this picture, this is not exactly the most ideally suited road for pedestrians. And, if I owned a Mercedes, I'd sure as hell would want to drive it too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Some GT Love

Yes it was raining. Yes, I was approaching an intersection. Yes, I was taking my eyes off the road to recklessly photograph a douchebag in a Mustang GT. But, it was bumper to bumper traffic, cars were in the intersection, and I couldn't enter, so I safely stopped and pulled out my Blackberry to photograph LVMYGT (Love my GT? I don't know if that's a demand that I love the GT, or if that's a statement that the driver loves his/her GT).

At lunch, I saw another newer Mustang with the plate, MUAHHH. I wasn't sure if that was the sound of an exaggerated kiss, or an attempt at an evil genius laugh (which is normally Muahahah).

Either way, I have definitive proof that Mustang drivers are stupid with money.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Only your Mum would call you an athlete

On Friday, May 1, we had a solid 2-3 hours of thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. Naturally, not ideal conditions for sitting behind a metal cage, on a metal seat, with my feet in a big ol' tub of water. However, the skies cleared up at about 4:30PM, in time for the 5:30 start of the carnival.

The carnival started with pickup games between coaches, so I did that for the first hour. I then took Thing 2 around to some games, some jumpies, and got her face painted. At 7:30, I went to get changed. Much like the gladiators in "The Running Man" were called to fight Arnold Schwarzenegger, I was called to get into my trunks to get dunked. At 8PM, it was go-time.

I advised several people that they could be the next drummer for Def Leppard, with their arms (after ascertaining they actually had 2 arms...wouldn't want to say that to an amputee). I told a couple of kids that I could've worn my good suit. And I told one girl that only her mom would call her an athlete. This girl, of course, was my daughter, Thing 1.

Unfortunately, instead of softballs thrown at a small target, they were throwing soccer balls at a large round target. Since 2 of these kids who dunked me repeatedly were my players, in retrospect I regret being a good teacher of throw-in technique. Of course, some of the kids decided to be smart-asses, and they ran up and hit the target, dunking me. When that happened, I went in with the cannonball technique, drenching all around me.

At about 8:30, near the end of the carnival, the thunder and lightning came, holding out so that we could get our 3 hours of revelry. At that point, I decided it was a damn good time to get out of the dunk tank.