Thursday, May 31, 2012

What May 30-31st Mean To Me: Letters From The President

It's not uncommon for me to get letters from the President Of The United States. Yeah, ya know.

Yeah that guy. My buddy.  Though anyone who has ever given money to his campaign gets the same letters.  Generally they are flowery and somewhat presidential, but this one was sitting in my inbox this morning:


subject: Hey

Brett --
I need your help today.
Tonight is the May fundraising deadline, and it matters.
Please donate $10 or more before midnight:
Thank you,


I think he's one step away from kidnapping my family and asking for a ransom.

I'm gonna go ahead and safely guess that Barack doesn't get the chance to review every email "he" sends out, but you'd think his organization could do better than the above.  But if you're gonna send a threatening email in hopes I send you a whole 10 bucks, might as well make it scare me.  Maybe like the below:


Do you want to die? 
Tonight is the May fundraising deadline, and it matters. 
Because if you don't donate, you are essentially killing my campaign. Single handedly.  You.
Do you know what happens then?  If I lose?  Asshole?
Worldwide destruction.  You know Mormons...

Just gimme your fucking 10 dollars.  Lets avoid the bullshit. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What May 29th Means To Me: Teenage Problems

There are few things in life that make you feel young again.  Perhaps it's love, maybe its a scent that reminds you of something, a song on the radio...but nothing quite makes you feel fourteen again like getting a zit. Thankfully I never had awful skin, and still don't to this day, but I'm not immune to the occasional blemish that sends me running to the mirror in fear that my face will soon become the world's biggest embarrassment.

Getting them when you were young was the fucking worst.  For starters, puberty alone is enough to drive you insane, teens don't need embarrassing marks on their faces to repel the opposite sex and become the subject of ridicule by other competing kids.  They were the end of the world.  You'd look in the mirror for hours, contemplate picking at them until they burst, and weighed the pros and cons of having a huge whitehead on your face, as opposed to a small red scab.  When you had conversations, you assumed people stared at it.  You might slather on OXY, or Clearasil, or some other product that you hoped would work, but mostly you just went to school, with breath held, hoping no one would notice the blaring siren on your nose. But, of course, someone always did, and if your school was anything like mine, people would point them out as if you didn't notice, and some would even offer to pick at it for you.  If nothing else, they'd share their technique. Always wash your face with hot water first, they said. That opens up the pores.  Absolutely embarrassing.

And is getting them as a 33 year old much different?  I've been battling one, yes battling, for the past few days.  Constantly checking the mirror to see if it's even gotten bigger or smaller, while exploring the rest of my face for possible new landing spots.  I try not to touch it in fear of angering it, as if manipulating it will make it grow faster and stronger.  Then I hope it doesn't become a permanent fixture on my face, as if that is a possibility.  And, of course, I assume I'll come to work, people will point and laugh, and then gather in corners of the office to talk about it.  Yeah, I don't have any issues, none at all!

This episode of the Wonder Years was scarier than anything Stephen King ever came up with.
Though if this is my biggest problem of the week, I'll consider it a success. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

What May 25th Means To Me: Fan Fiction

Listen, I'll come right out and admit it. I do not understand the appeal of fan fiction.  At all.  Not even a little. More specifically, I don't understand the sensation currently known as "50 Shades Of Grey." I know it's like the biggest thing out there right now, so I figured I'd read an excerpt or two to see what the fuss was about.  It doesn't seem particularly interesting, or well written, but I guess a gazillion people can't be wrong, and the author, who originally concocted the story as Twilight fan fiction, is rich beyond belief.  So I guess she wins. 

I've written a book and some screenplays that I feel are pretty good, but clearly, I've not experienced near the success of the "50 Shades of Grey" lady. So what's the answer?  As I sit here at 2am, fitful from lack of sleep, I only have one solution: To write fan fiction! DUH! Genius! And why not do it with my current obsession: Game Of Thrones?  I'm titillated by just the thought of it.  It'll be brilliant.  Or something kind of mocking and dumb.  OK, something really mocking and dumb. But why not?  God knows I've wasted my time with stupider (I think.) 

(***Upon reading this over once, this really has to be the stupidest thing I ever spent time on. *** Oh, and in true fan fiction tradition, I didn't bother checking syntax or fact I didn't edit it at all. :) )



I checked my watch for what seemed like the 500th time.  It felt like I'd been in this place for hours, but only 45 minutes had actually elapsed.  I rested my head against the plush booth and looked towards the dark ceiling, lost, while I let the ambient sound from the jukebox overtake my thoughts.  I couldn't believe I was there.  That place.  A place that was once home to my sweetest memories.  Memories that were now painted blood red and dripped from the corners of my mind until there was nothing left but stain.

"Duuuude," my friend Tanner said. "C'mon, we took you out tonight so you wouldn't be miserable."

Our friend, Chase, agreed with him. But they had no idea of the pain I felt.  I just wanted to leave. To be anywhere but in this loud place.  I just wanted to go home.

"Not now, guys." I responded, as I closed my eyes.

Tanner and Chase both raised from their seats and placed their Abercrombie clad bodies in front of mine.  "Dude, you've gotta get over her," Chase said. "I'm sorry, man, but you know she's over you."  That didn't help. 

"Thanks Chase, I appreciate that," I responded, sarcastically.  I had the full intention of heading out the door.  Tanner had noticed that I had had enough.

"Alright, Dude, I'll tell you what.  Just talk to a girl.  Any girl here.  See that there's other fish in the sea," Tanner said. "And then you can go home."


"Then we'll keep you here all night," Chase said, with a laugh.  "You know we can.  We're bigger than you."

They were.  And it was exactly the sort of thing they'd do.  I've seen them do it to mutual friends in the past.  I didn't want to deal with their offer, but figured if it was the quickest way to go home, a 3 second conversation with some girl who wouldn't want to speak with me anyway wouldn't be the end of the world.  Tanner noticed that I had relented.  He knew me too well.  Excited, he scanned the entire bar, scoping out possible women I might speak with, one by one eliminating potential targets.

"She's too pretty," he said about one.  "She's too snotty," he said of another.  "And ooh, she's too fat."

His eyes finally rested on a young woman sitting at the end of the bar.  She was alone.  Her face was shield by her platinum blond hair.  She looked undisturbed.  Lonely even.  Tanner pointed to her confidently and nodded his head slowly.  "That's the one. Right there."

I sighed and begged for them both to leave me alone, but they wouldn't take no for an answer.  "Fine, fine," I said.  I picked up my body from the booth; I swore it weighed four times as much as normal.  The weight of my sorrow felt permanent on my shoulders.  But with a quick push on the back from Chase, I trudged my body towards the mysterious girl sitting alone.  As I approached her, I noticed her hair wasn't exactly platinum blond.  It was silver.  But not like an old lady; more like something out of a storybook. And her dress.  It was like nothing I'd ever seen.  Granted, I wasn't hip to fashion trends, but it just looked out of place.  It caused me to wonder what kind of drugs she might be on.  I placed myself only a foot away from the strange girl, but she didn't stir.

"Hi..." I said.  But nothing.  Not even a hint of acknowledgment.  My shoulders dropped. "Hello..." I said again, through a sigh.  Still nothing. Zero movement.  I turned back to my friends who both urged me on with flicks of the wrist.  And a bit of laughter.  I rolled my eyes and turned towards her again.  This time, I wouldn't greet her with words. Instead, I tapped her on the shoulder. And like a lightning bolt, she spun around and pierced me with her crystal clear blue eyes.  A stare so intense I could feel my throat actually tighten.  She breathed heavy through her nose and narrowed her eyes. Her lips finally parted.

"The next time you touch me with your hand ... will be the last time you have hands," she said, sternly.

I immediately stepped back and held my hands up to show I meant no harm.  "The last man who touched me without permission was given a boiling crown of liquid gold, and now aimlessly wanders the netherworld for eternity with the other animals who have tried to have me slain."

I was speechless.  I had never heard anything like that.  It was nuts. Beyond crazy.  But before I had a chance to answer, or even consider, she continued her rant: "Who sent you here," she said directly.  I could barely speak.  "Who.Sent.You.Here," she said again.  A warning.

"My ... my friends," I stammered, as I looked back towards them.  She met their gaze with fear.

"Who are they!" She demanded.  "Why did they send you here!"

"I swear I mean no harm," I said, with my hands up. "I just...they just.  To be honest I'm just a severely heartbroken guy and they wanted me to talk to someone.  That's all.  I'll go, right now," I said.

I waited a moment. She broke her gaze and relaxed her taut face. My comment somehow disarmed her.

"You have had your heartbroken," she said, calmer. "I, too, have had my heartbroken." For the first time in our brief conversation, she looked vulnerable.  I breathed a sigh of relief. 

"Oh?" I didn't know what else to say.

"My husband. Khal Drago.  My moon and stars.  Leader of the Dothraki," she said, with heavy sadness.  There was a moment of silence.  She for her husband. Me ... because this was easily the oddest conversation I had ever had.  What the hell did I walk into??

"Oh...ummm...can I ask what happened?" I asked.  The silence was uncomfortable. 

"He died ... fighting for my honor," she said, with a hint of guilt.

"He was killed in a fight?"  I had no fucking clue what she was talking about.

"Khal Drago would never be defeated in a fight," she said, as if it was obvious, and a little offended.  Khal Drago ... maybe a mid-eastern guy, I thought.  Regardless, an odd name. "He suffered a wound in the battle, and the infection festered until he sweated like a bleating pig.  I asked a gypsy woman, a woman from people we conquered to help, and she said she could save his life if we sacrificed another.  I offered his horse ... but she took my unborn child."  Oh ... well that cleared it all up, I thought.

"Wow... I'm sorry?" I said, as I searched for a way out of the conversation.  I looked back to my friends with a look of absolute astonishment.  They returned my expression with questioning ones.  I couldn't wait to tell them this crazy story. 

"They said my stillborn child had the wings of a bat and crumbled in the hands of the gypsy woman like black coal," she continued, sadly.  "Did your wife die in battle as well?"

"What? no." I nervously laughed. 

"In childbirth?"

"Oh, no.  no. She wasn't even my wife. I actually met her in this bar three years ago," I told her, wistfully. "But she left me. Just last week."

"Did you raise a hand to her!" she exclaimed with the same anger she displayed toward the beginning of our conversation.

"No, of course not!" I said.  "I  ... I caught her in our bed. With another man.  She said I was too nice for her."

The silver haired woman's eyes relaxed.  "I'm truly sorry for your loss," she said with sympathy.  I tried to search her face, which now appeared sad.  I realized she had not smiled once during our conversation. She looked into my eyes and grabbed my hand.  "My name is Daenerys Stormborn ... from house Targaryen," she said, warmly.  This was getting weirder with every passing second.  My friends were probably watching me, but I wouldn't dare turn towards them.  Firstly because I was fascinated with the girl, but mostly I was scared she might attack me.  "You're not from around here, are you?" I asked, with an obvious tone.

"Last I remember I was wandering through the Red Waste.  I passed out.  And when I woke up, I was here.  In your city. Alone.  And I fear my friends and followers did not make it."

"Ummm, you're from the Red Waste?" I asked.  Now I was becoming a bit amused.

"No, don't be silly," she said.  Her first smile. "No one is from the Red Waste."  She suddenly turned serious. "I am from the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  I was taken as a small child after my father, the King, was stabbed in the back by Jamie Lannister."

"Jamie Lannister?"  I thought maybe I went to high school with someone by that name.  Maybe this girl had to...before she was admitted to, and then escaped from an insane asylum.

"You've heard of the King Slayer?" she asked. "Of course you have, who hasn't heard of the King Slayer?"  As she said those last, few strange words, I suddenly noticed something creep up her shoulder.  Both her shoulders!  At first I thought it to be a rat.  But as I gathered my wits, I quickly figured it was a bat!  But as the images came into focus, I realized they were things I had never seen before.  I couldn't identify them, but everything in my being told me they were creatures from legend.  I had seen them in story books. In fairy tales.  These two small creatures propped on her shoulders were dragons. I immediately recoiled in fear.  Daenerys just laughed.  "Do not be alarmed," she said, as she gently pet one on the head.  "They would not show themselves if they did not like you."  She smiled warmly. 

I tilted my head to get a better look.  One screeched a light sound.  It appeared quite friendly.  "May I pet one?" I asked.  Daenerys laughed.  "You are a brave one, aren't you. Asking to pet a dragon," she said, as if she were impressed.  " But that would not be wise.  But are you hungry?" she continued.  I wasn't, but I felt uncomfortable saying "no."  I nodded.  She searched her surroundings until her eyes settled on the bowl of peanuts.  She grabbed a few and held them in front of the dragon perched on her left shoulder.  She uttered words in a language I'd never heard and suddenly the dragon breathed fire into her hand!  Seconds later, my nose was overwhelmed with the smell of roasted peanuts.  An aroma I remembered from the New York City streets of my childhood.  She presented the roasted nuts to me.

"Oh, no thank you," I said.  Daenerys seemed offended by the rejection.  "I'm sure many men have died for you," I said.  "But I cannot tonight.  I have a peanut allergy."

She laughed, heartily.  And I returned the sweet sound with laughter of my own.  But as I looked again over her shoulder, towards the entrance to the bar, my face dropped like an imploding building.  Daenerys immediately noticed the change in my demeanor and followed my gaze to the beautiful brunette who just entered the bar.  "That's her, isn't it?" Daenerys asked.  My silence provided her the answer.

Daenerys tilted her head and looked towards me with curiosity. "What is your name?" she asked me.

"I'm Stephen," I stuttered. "Stephen Si --- of house Simon?" I said.  Daenerys nodded, satisfied.

"Stephen. Of house Simon. Can I tell you a secret?"  I met her gaze.  She looked eager.  Like she was desperate to tell me something.  I truly wanted to hear. 

"I have full plans to avenge my father's murder and take back the Seven Kingdoms.  And when I return to Westeros, there will be thousands who will cheer and fight for me, until I'm rightfully back on the throne!" she said with passion.  I didn't know what to say.  I had just seen the love of my life walk through the door, and now this crazy blond lady was blustering about kings and murder and all this crazy bullshit.  "Stephen," she said, directly.  "I want you to pledge your allegiance to me.  Be by my side, the first in my army, and when my dragons are grown we will take back the kingdoms and rule how we see fit!"

I had no clue what to say.  But I was captivated by her passion and conviction.  She narrowed her crystal eyes and looked straight through me. She was beautiful.  And I had just seen dragons. I had no clue what was happening, what to believe. So instead of thinking, I just listened. "Stephen, pledge to me your honor and I will prove mine to you right now.  Will you join me in my quest?"

"Umm, sure, why not," I said, entirely too afraid to say anything else.  I had no clue what she was talking about, but I did not dare upset her.  She slyly smiled and raised from her stool.  Her dragons retreated off her shoulders, to her lower back.  "Follow me," she said.

Daenerys confidently walked across the bar, and I soon realized that she was headed straight towards Christina, my ex.  She placed herself in plain view and waited to be noticed.  Once Christina saw the both of us standing in front of her, she rolled her eyes.  Her face dropped.  Daenerys stood tall.  "Is it true that you have wronged this man beside me?" she announced. 

"Umm, excuse me?" Christina said, in her snottiest tone.  She looked back towards her friends and laughed.  This sign of disrespect did not please Daenerys.

"I said, is it true that you have wronged this man standing beside me?"  Still no response from Christina.

"You will speak to me when I'm speaking to you," Daenerys said, in a stronger tone.  Christina looked her over and snorted.  She shook her head and returned to her conversation.

"Do you know who I am!" Daenerys yelled.  This finally got Christina's attention. 

"Umm, a crazy, psycho bitch?"  Christina said, through a laugh.

Daenerys burned.  I saw it in her eyes.  Her shoulders tensed.  Her teeth gritted.

"I am Daenerys Stormborn, the rightful heir to the throne of the Seven Kingdoms," Daenerys said, strictly.  "And you.  You will pay for your disrespect, your treachery, and your sins..."  With those last words, her dragons perched themselves on her shoulders once again. "...With fire...and blood."

At the sounds of her last words, the dragons screeched until the room was filled with bright noise. Fire sprang from their lungs until the bar was an inferno!  Flames everywhere!  Screams! Panic!  Daenerys grabbed me by the shirt until our eyes met. "You must run!"  I couldn't move. "I will be OK, leave at once!" she said.  But I was frozen with fear. "I said, RUN!"

I finally snapped to and darted out of the bar  My world was suddenly infiltrated with blood curdling screams and smoke.  Outside the bar was chaos.  Tears and fire sirens.  I gathered myself and searched the area.  I saw dozens flea the bar, including Chase and Tanner who ran, choking, to safety.  I watched each and every person who escaped, but I did not see the silver haired girl who started it.  Firemen rushed inside the bar with their hoses and oxygen tanks and yanked out trapped bodies, one by one.  But still, there was no Daenerys. 

And then I saw a  body removed from the building.  I could recognize it through the flaky, charred skin.  It was Christina. Still. Dead. I couldn't believe it.  And she was the last body they could remove before the entire bar collapsed upon itself; the uncontrollable fire burning everything in its path.  I searched the crowd one last time.  And in the smoke, the blood, and the tears...there was no Daenerys.

I tossed and turned through the night.  I barely slept a wink.  When my alarm clock sounded to greet the new day, I turned on the television to news about the fire.  They mentioned its fury. It's power.  And they said although some were hurt, the fire only claimed one victim:  Christina.  Just one, I thought.  I wondered how that could be.  I saw everyone who escaped, and I saw the building collapse.  No one could have survived that.  But I never saw Daenerys. 

That night I had seen blood.  I had seen death.  I had seen more terror than I had ever seen in my entire life.  But sadness was not what I felt. 

Because all I thought about was the silver haired girl.  And where she had gone to.

And I had a feeling that would not be the last time I saw her.


Thank you, thank you!

Can I have my multi-million dollar book deal now? :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bonus Blogging: The Pimp!

From the "this needs to become reality department"...

Someone make it happen

What May 23rd-24th Means To Me: How You Found My Blog

Been a while since I did a "How You Found My Blog" post, so I figured it was time since I don't have anything else to discuss.  You know the drill: I go into the blog analytics and find some of the odder search terms that lead to my blog. Here's a past example.  Always good for a few lulz.  Let's go.

Without Nipples, Boobs Would Be Pointless:

Ah, the fine conclusions us humans come to! Well, I suppose the man does have a point, but I have to wonder what inspired the search.  Did he just have an encounter with a nippleless woman, didn't enjoy the experience, and came home to see if he could find any likeminded people?  Did Google wake him up in the middle of the night with the suggestion of sleeping with a nippleless woman?  And this was his response?  Regardless, I would love to know what post on my blog this search lead to. 

Little Girls Vagina:

The only thing more disturbing than this search term... is the fact that it somehow lead to my blog.  Not only that, but the person responsible for it actually stayed on the blog for a while.  Congratulations Brett, you sure know how to entertain the pedophiles.  

On a related note, here's another search:  Arya Stark Is Sexy.

Now come on.  For those who aren't familiar with Game Of Thrones, this is Arya:

C'mon, I know I'm cute and all, but I'm like 9.

This is why we can't have nice things.   Though I wonder how Arya would even react if someone called her sexy.  Probably order Jaqen to kill the person.  And while I was looking up Jaqen's name on Wiki, I saw a spoiler.  Fuck me. I can't win. (I also just looked at the actress's age; she's actually 15...which shocked me, but regardless, she's too young for such searches!)

Noah Is A Dumb Cunt:

Hmmm...what, oh, what did Noah do?  Do you think this is a religious person who maybe was just attacked by a random animal?  And they are cursing Noah for placing it on the ark several bazillion years ago?  Then again, religious people generally don't toss around the term "dumb cunt." And if they do, that's a religion I would consider following. Well, whatever Noah did, it certainly sent some angry youngster to the interwebs with some venom. Now, I know what post this lead to: the one about my old roommate Noah firing blowdarts at me while doing homework in college.  Which would make him a dumb cunt for doing so. Or maybe "Noah" is just the aforementioned chick without nipples. 

The Khaleesi Naked:

You've been warned, perverts of the web! (That search actually came up several times, even though I don't have any pictures of the Khaleesi naked on the blog.)  But thanks to the graphic nature of Game Of Thrones, it is confirmed the Khaleesi has nipples.  After all, what else would the dragons suckle from! (even though they only do that in the books.  There are still some things too sensitive for HBO.)  There was also the Why Doesn't Someone Just Take The Khaleesi's Dragons search.  Can we have this person arrested for treason?  This might be worse than the pedophile. 

Clever Smart Sexy Dumb Stupid:

An appropriate search term for this blog!  Maybe just the dumb and stupid part.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What May 22nd Means To Me: Memes and Gifs

I love GIFs.  You know, these fun things...

And I know I've mentioned that I wish I could somehow incorporate these suggestive moving images into real life conversation.  After all, how fun would it be to use them to express a thought in a humorous way instead of, ya know, just saying it?  Oh, so clever I would be!

But, actually, sometimes I kind of do.

Not really in the traditional sense, but I know I will spew a line from a TV show or movie to indirectly express a thought, while simultaneously hoping my conversation partner understands the reference so we can share a lol.  So without further ado, here are the top 5 movie/TV quotes I'll use during casual conversation to express a thought...or be annoying

5) "Two Mendys"

That's Gold, Jerry! Gold.

Origin: Seinfeld.  Kenny Banya loves the fancy restaurant, Mendy's, and always suggests it as a place for Jerry to take him as part of a quid pro quo deal.  During one episode, while driving a hard bargain, Banya demands two dinners in exchange for an Armani suit (I think?) and simply says, "Two Mendys!"

How it's used:  Just like Banya, I'll say it when I want you to "sweeten the deal."  Generally delivered while looking at you sideways, knowing I'm upping the ante past the point you are comfortable with. 

Honorable mention:  I'll often say "I'm bustin', Jerry, I'm bustin" like Costanza if I'm happy about something.  Or if I'm being sarcastic about being "thrilled" with a situation.

4) "You Know A Guy."

Origin: Ocean's 11. Andy Garcia utters the line to George Clooney at the end of the movie, after Andy doubts that Clooney "knows a guy" who can help him find who robbed his vault.

How It's Used:  I'll annoyingly cut you off anytime you start a sentence with "I know a guy..." 

3) "Lelu Dallas Multi Pass"

Origin: The Fifth Element.  When Lelu needs to get on the plane, she requires her multi pass. And seems to love telling everyone about it. Nuff said.

How It's Used: Generally to be annoying.  I just love the line.  Though I suppose I'll say it when something is pretty obvious. 

2) "So It could be 'B', Ricky Ponting."

Origin: Slumdog Millionaire.  The gameshow host, Prem, tries to entice Jamal into providing the wrong answer.

How It's Used: When I know you're weighing a decision.  If you make a choice, and look to me with uncertainty, I might put on my crappiest accent and use the line.  It never helps. Except to further your frustration. 

1) "You're Killing Your Father, Larry."

Origin: The Big Lebowski.  When Walter and Dude are trying to extract information out of grade schooler Larry, Walter implies that his lack of cooperation is disappointing his near-dead father. 

How It's Used: My biggest pet peeve is when a person offers me information, yet immediately rescinds it.  "Ooooh, i have something to tell you....but I can't"  Fuck you, i hate this.  Anyway, since I can never let it go, I'll try to coax the person into telling me, and this debate always features the line.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What May 21st Means To Me: What Money Buys

This question is for all the die-hard sports fans out there.  The ones who spend an inordinate amount of time on or their favorite team's message board.  The ones who actually get angry when their favorite team loses, but are also elated when they are victorious:

If I offered you 15k right now, but in exchange, you forfeited any chance of your favorite team ever winning a championship, would you take the money?

I think the knee-jerk reaction for most would be to cash that check before the person had a chance to renege the deal.  After all, there's a lot that you can do with 15k, and, also, economic concerns will differ from person to person. If you're poor and 15k might be the difference between life and death, then obviously you should take the money.  But when I was first posed this question by a friend of mine, my immediate thought was to not take it. 

For me, watching football is more than something fun to do on Sunday afternoons in the fall.  It's stupid, right?  Why should I care so much about a game?  Especially a game where I have zero control over the outcome.  A game where I know none of the players personally, and they certainly do not care about my well being.  For me, watching sports is more than a hobby, it's actually some sort of identity.  While I'm a far cry from a soccer hooligan, as my devotion to my sports team will never land me in jail (or in a hospital), being a sports fan is part of who I am.  It's a conversation point and common ground between me and many other people my age. It's the basis of a community, both on the internet and the real world, which my interest places me in.  There's comfort in that.  But since the root of being a sports fan is grounded in competition, and because no one likes to root for nothing, taking the goal of the ultimate prize away would cause rooting to be futile.  That 15k would be much more of a sacrifice than one might think. 

Then again, as I've said many times, though passion for anything that isn't unhealthy could be seen as a gift, a die hard sports fan deals with disappointment more often than not, and I curse my fandom with each loss.  I could probably replace all the energy I devote towards sports with something a bit more productive, but humans need passive interests just as much as we need productive ones, and sports more than fits that bill.

Fortunately I'm also in a situation where 15,000 dollars would not be life-changing money.  Don't get me wrong, it would be nice. If you handed me 15k right now, I'd take the day off and skip home while singing Journey and Bon Jovi songs.  But after careful thought, it probably wouldn't change my day-to-day.  It would certainly make it better for a while; perhaps my next few meals would be tastier, my next vacation a little more upscale, but it certainly wouldn't alter the landscape of my life.  But if you removed interest in sports from my life, there would be a huge void that would need to be filled.  Of course I'd adapt, and I could very easily fill it will something more satisfying, but I find comfort in my fandom, the community that forms around it, and the endless conversation I have with peers because of it.  It's nice to feel like I'm part of a team, even if I never throw a ball for them.

So, if I had to choose right now, I'd forgo the 15k and be a glutton for punishment.  I'm not sure what this says about me...but probably nothing good.  Now 60k?  SOLD. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What May 17th Means To Me: I'm Gonna Live Forever

It's true...see?

There's a bunch of articles circulating the interwebs about a study that suggests coffee drinkers live longer.  I drink a lot of coffee.  A win for me!

Now, when you dig into the data, it's not exactly true because heavy coffee drinkers are also more likely to smoke, eat poorly, and exercise less.  I don't smoke, don't eat poorly, and I exercise a ton.  Combine that with my heavy coffee intake, and don't be surprised if I'm cast in the next Avengers movie.

On that note...I'm gonna have another cup.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What May 15-16th Mean To Me: Popcorn

I've been sitting at the computer for a half hour trying to think of something to write, and can think of nothing other than the popcorn I'm shoving in my maw.  I eat a lot of popcorn, and why shouldn't I?  It's a healthy light snack that isn't all that expensive.  It's not the tastiest thing in the world, but it's light, fun (!), and it occupies time while I watch TV.  Plus, I enjoy watching the kernels explode in the air popper. It's a bit of a thrill. Plus, it's rather efficient.  No wasted kernels!  Anyone who eats microwave popcorn is a sucker.  Yeah, I said it, all you kernel wasters. 

Sue me

Anyway, it got me thinking about how many popped popcorn kernels I eat in a year.  The suggested serving size for my airpopper is a half cup full of kernels, which, according to the Google, is about 800 kernels per serving.  That sounds about right.  Some weeks I eat it everyday, some just once or twice or not at all, but I think it's safe to split the difference and say I eat popcorn 3.5 times a week. 

800x3.5= 2,800 popcorn kernels a week. 

2,800x52=145,600 popcorn kernels a year.   I assume I did that math right?  I can never tell because I'm that bad at it.

I guess that seems like a lot, but I wonder what kind of receptacle would that fill?  A trash can?  Half a trash can?  A quarter of a ball pit at Chuck E Cheese?  I often wonder if it's bad to eat this much popcorn, like it'll lead to some sort of popcorn cancer.  What a thing to die from. 

Regardless, I'm sorry that you'll never get the 2 minutes it took you to read this back. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What May 14th Means To Me: Follow Up Thoughts On Brussels

After spending just a few days in Brussels, you have to wonder if it's a city full of Magellans.

Now, I'm admittedly a disgrace to my gender when it comes to sense of direction, but my God is it easy to get lost in this city.  With or without a sense of direction. Or even a map.  With its constant criss-crossing streets that have names so long they don't fit on said maps, they often cut off without warning, or worse yet, turn into other streets six blocks before you realize you're headed in the wrong direction.  My favorite?  When streets split into two within even the smallest roundabout, even though only one continues through the other side.  Does that make sense?  Not really?  Good.  Now you know what it's like to walk through Brussels. And though I'm sure the locals can navigate the area with their eyes closed, they sure are shitty at giving directions.  I had to ask for help numerous times from numerous strangers, and each time their descriptions were explained with a high degree of uncertainty and an apology.  

Anyway, enough of that, how about some Brussels highlights?  Though there are many fun things about Belgium (like a healthy nightlife...during my stay, it was "gay week," which culminated in an enormous street party for all kinds that was energetic, chaotic, and really fun), here are three notables that have nothing to do with fat, gay men running around in thongs:

Grand Place:

Many European cities have some sort of "great square," preserved town centerpieces that probably served greater purpose than beauty back in the old days, and even though I've only seen a small fraction of them, I can't imagine any are as nice as Brussels' Grand Place.  I don't know jack about architecture, but even a moron could tell these were some beautiful buildings with a ton of detail.  I revisited this square often, as this cobblestone area surrounded by old buildings was something that just doesn't exist in America.   Nothing even close. (More photos below in the dump).  The entire area is surrounded by fun shops/bars/cafes, winding corridors, and a weird statue of a boy pissing. For some reason, that urinating boy has become a symbol of Brussels. Its image exists on much of the tourist crap.  Your guess is as good as mine, and even locals aren't quite certain why it has become so famous. 

Brussels is a city that has lots of random beautiful buildings, on unassuming streets, that make you think "hmmm, I bet that's something!" while you reach for the camera . And, sometimes, you're actually correct, and there's even a sign noting the building's history.  There's probably a guide to all these, but it was fun happening upon them, which occurs more often than you might think.

The Atomium: 

The Atomium was one of the premiere exhibits when Belgium hosted the world's fair in the 1950's, and they kept this gigantic model of the atom due to popularity.  They've since turned it into one of those museums where you pretend to care about the uninteresting exhibit inside simply because you paid money to enter it.  But really, the exhibit about the world's water shortage is just a time waster until you're ready to take the elevator to the top electron, which provides a panoramic view of Brussels and, apparently, you can see as far as Antwerp on a clear day (which would have been cool to see if I knew what the hell I was looking for.)  There's also an overpriced restaurant on the very top floor that serves mediocre food that you forgive because of the great scenery.

Below the Atomium is a tourist trap otherwise known as "Mini Europe."  It's essentially a bullshit biscuit filled with miniature landmarks from around the EU; the obvious brainchild of someone who was given about twenty minutes to think of a way to capitalize on local foot traffic.  "Mom, look, a mini Eiffel Tower and Roman Coliseum!...and it's Little Ben! Get it?" "Yes, son. We can go home now. We've seen it all!" Mini Europe feels like it should be off I-80 somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, you know with signs advertising it from a thousand miles away, not in a major city. Actually, come to think of it, if it was in my suggested place, I'd totally pull off and visit. 

The Fucking Waffles:

The rumors are true.  Whether sold on the street, or in restaurants like the one above, the Belgians sure nail the waffle, and serve it under pretty much anything.  I'm not a huge sugar eater, but I couldn't keep my hands off these inexpensive treats.  In addition to the waffle, the street french fries (frites) are also top notch, as is the world famous chocolate (and the chocolate shops are plentiful).  I know Belgium is known for the three (and other haute cuisine actually), and a quick visit to Brussels will prove why.  

Normally my vacations end with me satisfied and ready to come home.  But as I packed my bag tonight, and reviewed my flight information tomorrow, I felt a bit of melancholy as I'm really not ready to come back.  But, alas, money is the drug we all need.  No matter how much or little of it we might earn.  

Belgique Photo Dump:

Grand Place Photo Bomb

Grand Place

Grand Place

Something Cool.  Like any Euro capital, Brussels is filled with stuff like this.

Yeah, deal with the finger

You wouldn't know it by this pic, but I swear that dog was a bear. Huge.  And a show stopper.  So much so that numerous Japanese tourists stopped to take its pic.  True story.

One of the aforementioned random buildings with history.  Apparently this one won a facade contest in the late 1800's.  Close up, it's pretty.  And down the street from a few sex shops. 

Inside the Atomium.  An escalator that takes you from ball to ball.  huhuhuh I said ball.  Twice. 

 See you back in the States. 


What May 11-14 Means To Me: Paris!

Upon seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time, I had only one, singular thought:

Wow, it’s the Eiffel Tower.” 

Hey look, there it is.

During my thirty-three years of living, I think I’ve seen France’s most famous landmark depicted in just about every single way something could be.  Whether it be film, television, art or this...

or this...

Or umm this...'s probably the landmark I've seen most often.  

Because of this, simply being in its vicinity was unexpectedly sobering.  Tourist attraction or not, the Eiffel Tower is probably the world’s most ubiquitous/iconic image, and actually standing in front of it was more powerful than I ever thought.  I immediately catalogued all the wasted bullshit of my thirty-three years; things I was doing that were not visiting the Eiffel Tower, and couldn’t come up with an excuse as to why I somehow never got around to it before. It made me think of all the other things I might be missing out on.  It might be silly to consider viewing a tall, metal structure as some sort of benchmark moment in my life, but I can now at least say it’s something I’ve visited.  I feel like I've earned the right to be a part of a club or something.   

Who here has seen ze Eiffel Tower?


I can't wait to participate in the next meeting.

Ah, Paris.   Home to Monet, Manet, Proust and, of course, America’s favorite punching bag, Glass Joe. Ella, a childhood friend and now expat, was kind enough to provide an extensive walking tour of the city that included the famous monuments, buildings, and Jim Morrison’s grave (I don’t even really like The Doors, but it felt like something I should do.  I actually think it’s a site that’s just become famous for being famous). We continued on to multiple cafĂ© stops, beautiful churches, and a strange protest that involved a horde of streetblockers, an angry truck driver, and a police bicycle that became the subject of many photographers. All of which resulted in both cultural nourishment and sore feet. I’d say we were like Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunset (A movie Ella and I both love), except I don’t recall Julie using the “privacy” of a sidestreet doorway to slip on a thong she bought minutes before at an H&M.  (Neither of us were prepared for an unexpected hot day.  While I decided to sweat it out, she beat the heat with the purchase of a new summer dress and the aforementioned undergarment.)  The tour ended when we reached her boyfriend’s apartment, and were greeted by six French thirty-somethings singing a layered acapella version of Green Day’s “Basket Case.”  You know, typical.
It’s funny when your preconceived notions of a place actually turn out to be somewhat accurate.  And this one-hundred year old apartment, complete with its old hardwood floors and bookshelves lined with classic lit, fit my stereotype of how native, artsy Parisians my age might live.  The bar we visited later in the evening; with its guitarist and violinist, homemade rum, and customers who immediately engaged me in debates about the merits of communism (“Am I an equal to Mozart?), and the existence of God (What could create this world if not God?  I think you haven’t found yours yet”), was, more or less, everything I expected. In fact, I was invited to go to an Absinthe bar by one of the patrons the next evening at 2am. Sounds like something straight out of Midnight in Paris, right?  Too bad the guy who offered was some strange Greek dude, and not the ghost of Ernest Hemingway.  Anyway, the evening extended into the wee hours of the morning as the aforementioned glee club gave me a crash course in the history of French pop music, which included some odd dancing to tunes by Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, and some guy who beat his wife to death while on a drug binge.  All in all, a pretty perfect introduction to the city of light. 

Paris is easily the largest European city I’ve visited, but I was surprised to find it quaint.  Streets are littered with random cafes, sometimes four to a block.  If most of these were opened in Los Angeles, we’d snicker at their extreme simplicity and count the days till they went out of business.  But in Paris, these cafes exist harmoniously and feel awfully cozy.  It’s not uncommon to order a simple dish like an omelette, only to watch the waiter run across the street to buy the eggs and a baguette from the corner market. (For the record, I love that a fresh baguette comes with virtually every meal.  There are wine enthusiasts and food connoisseurs, but me? I just love bread.  When I was young, my mother always told me not to fill up on bread before the meal, but I did anyway, because, well, I fucking love bread. Duh.)

I completely understand why artists exhaust themselves over love letters to Paris, and also why commercials like this ever existed. Unlike what I mentioned about Brussels (more on this in another post), Paris smacks you in the face with its healthy blend of art, modernity, and history as soon as you get off the train. And it can be overwhelming while trying to take it in with just one gulp.  I’ll have to come back and make an entire trip of the city, but it was nice to get a small taste. 

Paris Photo Dump: 

Tree beside Jim Morrison's Grave.  That's all old gum.  Gross. Did Jim have a thing for gum?

I think that's the bridge Owen walked on at the end of Midnight In Paris.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What May 8th -9th Mean To Me: Brussels and Bruges

The girl at the front desk of my hotel's comment was more telling than I'm sure she imagined. 

I arrived three hours before check-in, and was informed I'd need to kill said hours doing anything other than being there.  Fortunately, she asked if I wanted some advice on where to go, which I happily accepted, but when she opened the map to guide me, she crinkled her brow and bit her cheek as if she was looking at it for the first time.  Not knowing exactly what the tell me, she forewent (is that the correct term?) drawing me a specific path and, instead, just circled the entire area that comprised Central Brussels while saying, "I think the best thing to do is just walk around and experience the city."  I should have figured I wouldn't receive inside advice from a girl wearing a name tag claiming she was "Spice Girl," but regardless, she didn't tell me what I want, what I really really want.

But though I've only had a brief taste of Brussels, I can actually see why she couldn't come up with anything.  While I'm sure the city has a lot of character and idiosyncrasy, it doesn't reveal itself like other European cities.  It lacks an Eiffel Tower to dominate its skyline, it's without an artfulness like Florence, and it doesn't exude a state of mind like the Scandinavian cities do. The architecture is a mixed bag, there doesn't seem to be a national language: most speak french (does anyone speak Flemish anymore?), and after spending two days here, I'm still not sure what the Belgian flag looks like because I've seen an assortment of different ones.  Sure, there's a large atom structure on the outskirts of the city (that I'm eager to see, especially because you can go inside), but if a World's Fair relic automatically makes for an interesting city, then I guess Queens, New York qualifies (and trust me, it's not). That said, the street food (frites, waffles, among other things) is fantastic and probably the main thing that allows Brussels to shine. Though waitresses and street vendors may give you a funny look if you decline the "frite sauce," because, after all, who doesn't love mayonnaise on french fries. But, regardless, Brussels is the capital of the EU after all; I know there is more to it.  And I look forward to seeing more of Brussels since I've barely gotten to know it, and I'm sure it'll prove itself unique.

(** By the way, I've never stayed at a hotel that provided shampoo that smelled exactly like the lobby.  Another thing to cross off the bucket list).

However, what Spice Girl should have done was drawn a line to the nebulous left and told me to hop the train to Bruges.  Coming into this trip, all I knew about Bruges was what I saw from the appropriately named Colin Farrell movie In Bruges.  But after experiencing the city in person, the only question I can ask is why aren't all movies set in Bruges.  Seriously. They could have shot Titanic in one of their pretty canals.  Rocky could have fought Apollo in the middle of the Markt.  And I'm not sure it's possible for LOL (starring Miley Cyrus) to be better, but their lol's would be more dignified if set against a Bruges background.  Bruges has kept most of its medieval appeal intact.  From the old buildings to the windy, cobble stoned streets that just beg for some horseshoe click-clock (and you bet its there), it feels as though Disney set this place up as "Medieval EuropeLand," except, ya know, they didn't and people actually live there.  Also, artsy chocolate shops melt with antique stores, as well as many modern clothing stores and restaurants (I think they even have a a 3-Michelin star one), to give it a hip and unique feel.  Plus, you know what the first thing I saw once I entered the city?  A pelican nosediving into a canal.  What? Yeah.  You're instantly transported.  There's not a lot to "do" there, but I easily could spend a week just wandering and taking it all in. 

I'm probably the world's worst photographer (Seriously, not only do I have no eye, but my pics are especially shit since I use my crappy camera phone). Anyway, here are some pics of Bruges:

I took this...

From the top of this...

...Which I believe is called The Best Ass Work Out In Bruges.  It's 300+ of these ...

...and somehow I didn't break my neck even though people were constantly walking in the opposite direction. 

I'm not sure what this is.
Creepy painting.

I swear I don't think these pics will be bad when I take them.
That's not a Godiva I'm shooting.  It's the Subway.  See?
Multi Pass

Off to Paris tomorrow...looking forward to my first time being there.