Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bad Sports Logos - Philadelphia 76ers (1991-1994)

Short and sweet. I am not going to say much about these, other than that they are the worst uniforms in the history of the NBA, and maybe in the history of sports. They the 76ers were shamed to go from their classic Dr. J, Charles Barkley, "Fo'-Fo'-Fo'" style jerseys to this eyesore, worn for three seasons. You may want to remove your children from the room.

Shawn Bradley

Manute Bol

Hersey Hawkins

Ron Anderson

Sweet Jesus, look at them. The red and blue color scheme. The off-center writing of the word "Sixers." The generic block lettering. Those awful stars on one side of the jersey and the opposite side of the pants! SHAWN BRADLEY!!!!

I'm going to be sick.

Not As Dumb As You Thought

Well that didn't last long.

I know that I promised you all that I would not blog for another month. And I am usually one to keep my promises. But I figured I should throw this one up there. It's partly because I find it interesting and partly because I might be bragging just a little bit. Besides, my biggest fan beseeched me not to hide my light under a bushel. Anything for you, babe.

I took two IQ tests today online on different websites. (One was at Fun Education, the other was at Tickle.com. Click to go to either or both.) I am not sure whether these tests are official or accredited or what. But since my mom promised me on the day of my high school graduation that she would tell me what my I.Q. was, and never delivered (ahem...), I had to take matters into my own hands.

The results were surprising. Turns out I am "gifted" by I.Q. standards. On the Tickle.com test, I scored at 135; on the Fun Education test, I scored a 138.

Let me read you what the Tickle.com test said. (And by the way, they say it's PhD approved, so don't let the fact that the site sounds like a kinky adult site minimize my near-genius.)

Your Intellectual Type is Visionary Philosopher. This means you are highly intelligent and have a powerful mix of skills and insight that can be applied in a variety of different ways. Like Plato, your exceptional math and verbal skills make you very adept at explaining things to others — and at anticipating and predicting patterns. And that's just some of what we know about you from your IQ results.

They compared me to Plato! And I used to eat Play-Dough! That's gotta be fate!

Now luckily, I roll with some very smart mo-fo's, which is pretty much everyone who reads this blog. (I would like to take credit for my blog making my readers just that much smarter, but who would I be fooling?) Therefore, I will not get a swelled head about this. But it is nice to have that little ego boost to know I'm not a drooling moron.

I am glad that the numbers were consistent. Anywhere in the 130s is pretty good, I think, so I'll take what I can get. (Apparently 142 and above is "Genius" level. 100 is dead-average.) I am very surprised, because even though I know my intelligence is okay, my grades were always terrible in high school, and only somewhat better in college. And I think I can chalk that up to my lack of focus, lack of drive and lack of clarity. (I once had a professor in college tell me I was "brilliant but lazy." He was right about the lazy part. He should have said "gifted but lazy," then he would have been right on the nose. I'm gifted, remember?)

I probably have some form of dyslexia or learning disability or something. Not that I'm making excuses, but I always feel like my head is cloudy and I can't think straight. Of course, other things will do that to a person too. Like love or some such thing. I have also been taking gingko biloba which apparently helps memory and increases blood flow throughout the brain and other parts of the body. Maybe I should take the test again without the gingko and see if it comes out different. Actually, I'll bet the gingko doesn't have much effect; no drug that good can be that cheap. It's like $1.99 a bottle.

Wow, considering I'm "gifted" I have really rambled on quite a bit in this one. What better way to express irony than writing about how high your I.Q. is and punctuating it with zero clarity of writing. Good job, Plato.

Anyway, I may or may not blog again before 7/22. So mark it down: it's a day I will definitely remember, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

See You In a Month

Though this will likely cripple my per-day average number of hits (it was especially high this week), I am taking a vacation from blogging for one month. Technically, right now it is 11:27 PM on Thursday, June 22, 2006. So you will next see me on July 22, or perhaps thereafter. (I will continue to update the Golden Age Hip Hop Videos site, of course.)

I'm going into hiding for a little while. These infernal computer machines sometimes are damaging to the ol' psyche and I think I need to do a little inward soul-searching for a bit. I will still read all of your stuff (if you have any), so please, don't follow my example. Go forth and multiply your weblogging output.

Hopefully I will return with tales of interesting events with which to regale you. Until then, I think I need to give this computer thing a rest for a while. I won't be checking this blog until then, so if you have anything to ask, email me. See you in July.

A (Barnes &) Noble Effort

I must say this: Wednesday was a beautiful day. The sun was out, I hardly did any work. It was great. I felt good all the rest of the night. I know that those feelings are fleeting and can turn from good to bad in a matter of seconds, and this one was no different.

Thursday went to shit pretty fast. Work sucked; it was busy and annoying and I felt helpless. I got into an argument with a very important person in my life whose opinion and frienship I value very much. I still feel like crap about that.

I was mopey and miserable all afternoon. When I got out of work I had to get my pants on my suit hemmed in for Mike C's wedding this weekend. So I went to the mall and they told me the pants might be ready tomorrow. Great. I walked out realizing that nothing I ever fucking do is right. I always think I have the best intentions but when it comes right down to it, I'm a colossal fuck-up.

I don't get paid until tomorrow so I have literally no money. So what do I do when I have literally no money? I go to the one place I can kill 4 hours easy without having to spend a dime: Barnes and Noble.

Keep in mind. I am not a reader. I was a few years ago, but not anymore. I started a novel when I first moved into the house I live in now, but misplaced the book under my bed (a fact which I did not discover until months later) and never bothered to pick up another book.

But I love bookstores. I could peruse books for hours and hours. They always make me feel a little better. Not to mention, Barnes and Noble has a music listening station where you can sample lots of albums. I usually show up with a list of albums I've read or heard about and give the albums a spin. I once did just that for 2 1/2 hours and was late for a wedding. (That's not true, don't worry Mike.)

But today, my mood was so foul and untenable that even checking out some indie rock wasn't working. I took the headphones off and headed out, still dejected and pouty.

Then it got interesting real fast.

As I was exiting the music section, a woman started stumbling backward and nearly knocked over a table with a bunch of DVDs on it. I thought nothing of it, as she seemed older and I figured maybe her equilibrium was just a little off. I passed the lady (who looked to be in her mid-50s) and began to walk away, when suddenly I heard a clerk say "Ma'am? MA'AM! Are you alright?" I whipped around and the woman had fallen down.

Now here's one thing you should understand about me: I am a bit of a chickenshit. I don't like drama, I don't like confrontation, I don't like turmoil of any kind. I want things to be nice and easy and I want everyone to hold hands around the campfire and tell each other how great they all are. That's what I like. So any time I see something like a) a fight, b) an uncomfortable social situation or c) an emergency, I run the fuck away.

But for some reason, something kept me there. I don't know what it was. It was out of my character. I turned around and ran to the woman, who was being held up by the kindly old sales clerk. He was bald and had a nice beard and glasses with the string hanging off the back so he can hang them off his neck when he's not using them.

He was holding the woman up, and he was not very strong; not a stud like me anyway. He looked like he was struggling, as the woman -- though short -- was not light. The man's eyes looked at me, pleading for some help. Before I could notice that everyone else was standing around and doing nothing, I walked to the woman and held her up. The clerk (we'll call him Basil, since he looked like a Basil) said, "Is there anything for her to sit on?" Immediately I propped the woman up so Basil could hold her, and ran to the chairs near the listening stations. I snagged one and brought it back, put it behind the woman, and Basil and I sat her down.

I asked, "Should I call 911?" Basil said, let me go call a manager first. He entrusted the lady to me and ran behind his counter to page someone. The woman suddenly started to stiffen up, and though I've never seen one, I could tell: she was having a seizure. Shit. Suddenly I realized that I was the only thing between her and slamming her head on the carpet and I got nervous. Very nervous. Basil, where are you???

As Basil came bounding back to me, I could notice that her eyes were glazed over and her mouth started making a clicking sound. Hoping she wasn't choking or swallowing anything, I kept a close eye on her mouth. It looked like her teeth were grinding. She was not blinking, and her eyes had a steely, robotic gaze which told me things were not going well.

Suddenly, the manager walks in, actually whistling (!) and twirling the ring of keys on his finger. I should have seen this as flippant but it actually calmed me. He went up to the woman and said, "Ma'am? Can you hear me?" I started snapping my finger in hear face, like they do in movies, not sure if I should have, but why the hell not? I asked the manager, "Should I call 911?" He said, let's just give it a second.

Then the woman started to slump. I said, "I think she's going down." She peeled forward off the chair and Basil, the manager and I lowered her to the ground. I could finally see her face. She was a middle-aged woman, not elderly. She had a light mustache and about 20 sparse chin hairs. She wore glasses and had curly salt and pepper hair.

As we lowered her, her teeth started grinding. We weren't sure if she was breathing or not. I opened up my phone and looked at the manager as if to say, "Well?" He said, "Yeah, why don't you go ahead and do that?" I called 911 (my first time ever) and talked to a woman. She asked what my emergency was. I told her I needed an ambulance at Barnes and Noble. She asked my name. Why would they need my name? In case this woman breaks her ribcage, so she knows who to sue? I gave it anyway, since I was feeling worthless anyway. I tried to give her the address but forgot where I was and said the number and cross streets wrong.

The lady then started to seize. I said to the 911 lady, "She's actually seizing right now." This is the point at which I was freaking out. I have never seen anyone die and didn't wish to do so today, Thursday, June 22, 2006.

The 911 lady was actually very helpful, telling me exactly what to do. Basil was holding both her hands, and he said she was gripping. In fact, she grabbed at Basil's wedding band and started trying to pull it off. He looked at me and we both kind of half-laughed. What else can you do? 911 Lady said to put her on her side, which I relayed to Basil and the manager. They rolled her and she started to struggle just a little bit. 911 Lady was very calming and said just keep her still, help is on the way, if anything else happened, make sure you call us. I hung up with the 911 lady and prayed for the paramedics to get there soon.

(Interestingly, as all this is going on, as a woman's life is ostensibly hanging in the balance, people are going about their business. One woman checked out with her purchase, a couple rubberneckers sort of stared and walked by, a kid turned back to his music station and put his headphones back on. Look, I'm no hero, but how do you just stand by and watch?)

Basil and the manager and I just waited for a few minutes. The lady started to blink, much to my relief. She then grabbed the manager's hand and kissed the back of it, much like you would the Pope. The manager looked at me and we kind of half-laughed. What else can you do?

The woman was still very disoriented and though she was blinking, her eyes were clearly confused. Her grip loosened, her mouth opened slightly and her breathing went back to normal. So did mine, finally.

Then the medics showed up, and we all stepped back to let them do their job. They had just as much trouble with her, and she started writhing around on her back. One medic tried to get some blood work on her, another held her head down, another put the blood pressure pump on her. Basil and another medic went through her purse (looking for identification, you cynical ones). She had no identifying information whatsoever, so the questions began.

"What's your name? Where do you live? Do you know your phone number? How did you get here? Is someone with you? Are you on any medications?" The inquisitive medic yelled these questions, and then would yell "CALM DOWN! JUST LIE BACK AND CALM DOWN! YOU'RE FINE!" But those guys were good, no question. They finally got her to talk. Her name was Mary Jane and she had gotten dropped off there by her sister. They took her away. As they were leaving, I sort of followed them a few feet to feel out whether they needed any witness testimony. They didn't, so I told them "great job" and let them go.

I began leaving the music and DVD section, thankful that I had avoided witnessing the passing away of an old lady in a public place. Before I left, however, Basil stopped me and said, "Sir, I want to thank you for all your help." And another saleswoman there (who had not been part of the festivities at all) said, "Yes, thank you for everything." It wasn't exactly slow, dramatic applause as I walked out triumphantly, but it was nice to be appreciated. I thanked Basil back and walked out, a sincere smile on my face. The first one in many hours.

I actually felt alright about myself at that moment. Instead of turning around and avoiding an uncertain situation, I stuck around. And I would like to think that I actually helped out. Did I save this lady's life? Of course not, but maybe by helping prevent her from slamming face first into a CD rack, and by making the phone call to the 911 folks, I at least performed a relatively good-hearted and selfless act.

And I finally felt that maybe -- for the first time all day -- I had actually done something right.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Delphix Redux

The original Delphix crew from about 1998-99. Herb Deluxxe, Tonypounds and Dead See Scrills. Rockin' shit in the Jesuit Tradition since 1997.

I met Tony (squatting in the picture) in 1995 when we were in a "Wally-ball" class at Le Moyne College. We never spoke once, but then met in the lounge in Dablon Hall and became fast friends. He had the long, flowing hair of a renaissance horse-back rider, and the wit and sexual orientation of a young Oscar Wilde. I found out that he listened to rap music, and his knowledge was not only of the good, but of the obscure. I think he mentioned something about Ed O.G. and the Bulldogs and I was instantly in love. Tony and I had our ups and downs, but over the last decade he has been one beautiful Italian stallion.

I met Todd in 1997 at the Le Moyne Cafeteria. (I know, this sounds like such a cliche. Like how Busta Rhymes met Q-Tip or something.) I thought he was far too handsome to be "down" but when he talked with me for about 45 minutes about why the Beatnuts debut album (titled The Beatnuts) was one of the best hip hop albums around, I knew that I had found another kindred spirit.

Legend has it that Tony, Todd and myself were at the Dolphin Den on an unusually windy night, and the Delphic Sibyl came down to warn the three wunderkinds that the "fatal" hot wings had actually just killed someone, and we should shy away. We ordered them anyway, and they weren't all that hot. Turns out the person wasn't actually the Delphic Sibyl but a fry-cook. Still, the name stuck.

Those guys are still making hot music for your eardrums and some shit for that ass. Check them out at their MySpace page. And no, they are not 13 year old girls, pervs.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

William J. Ripperger Jr. (1975-2006)

"June 16, 2006. Suddenly. Survived by his parents, William J. and Catherine Ripperger; brothers, Joseph Ripperger and Andrew Ripperger; grandmother, Madeline Ripperger; God parents, John and Mary Ellen Maley; several aunts, uncles and cousins.Family and friends may call Tuesday, 2-4, 7-9 PM at the funeral home of Alvah Halloran & Son, 2125 Chili Ave. Funeral Mass, 10 AM, Wednesday, St. Monica's Church (Genesee St.). Interment, St. Rose Cemetery, Lima, NY. Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Assoc."

Just wanted to give a quick thought on this. Knowing Billy Ripperger is one of the earliest memories I have. Back before my brother could even talk, Billy and I used to be good pals. Both our names were Billy, so we made reference to that fact every chance we got. He was a skinny redheaded freckly kid and I was a skinny blonde bucktoothed kid. We were just about the same age; I can't remember who was older.

I remember we used to call each other by each other's names for some strange reason. So he would say, "Hey Billy Ripperger" to me, and I would reply, "Yeah, Billy Shannon?" And we would giggle the way little kids do. Maybe we thought we could fool each other's parents so they couldn't tell us apart.

I will always remember spending Friday nights over at Billy's house. We would watch "The Dukes of Hazzard" or some silly show, then stay up late laughing. (I think his parents thought we were asleep, though.) On Saturday his mom would make breakfast and we would watch cartoons. This was all a quarter-century ago, but I remember much of it like it was yesterday. I remember the living room, the back yard, the upstairs. All very clear to me.

Billy passed away this past Friday, and I am now realizing that I haven't seen him in over 25 years. But hearing of his death deeply affects me. To say that a part of my childhood is gone would be a selfish comment. I have lost one of my first friends. But this isn't about me, it's about the other Billy.

Happy trails to you, Billy. You were a really sweet kid and I'm sure a great adult. My thoughts and prayers go out to your parents, brothers and the rest of your family. You're in a better place, and just know that you have touched lives -- even ones you haven't known in 25 years -- more than you know.

Your friend,
Billy Shannon

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Jenny McCarthy is Not Funny

Ok so listen. I have always found Jenny McCarthy to be totally smokin' hot. I've thought so ever since she was on that MTV "Singled Out" show where she basically was there to look good and say semi-amusing things.

You will not see any of the N.O.C.W.I.T. staff questioning Jenny's hotness. In fact, when I was a sophomore at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, I had a poster of Jenny on the wall at the foot of my bed. (This was when she was still just the girl from "Singled Out" and before she had become a true celebrity.) Though she was clothed in the poster, that was but a minor detail. I enjoyed the poster very much; I will leave it at that.

But something really disturbing happened along the way. At some point, Jenny started to believe that her role on television should be more than just sprouting cleavage and smiling and looking brutally boner- worthy. She actually thought that she was funny. Now, I can see why this might happen. It must happen to a lot of really hot girls. They tell a joke and a guy laughs a little too hard. Or the girl says something that would be run-of-the-mill in terms of wittiness in any other context, and a smitten young fellow might guffaw loudly and possibly say something like "Wow, you are FUNNY!" as if there is mutual exclusivity between hotness and a sense of humor. (I mean, look at this piece of ass for proof to the contrary.)

The problem is that Jenny is really not funny at all. I mean, if she were a friend of mine, I might think to myself, Well I guess, she's kinda funny. She told an amusing joke the other day. But she is not funny enough to be turned into some kind of nouveau Lucille Ball, which I'm pretty sure is how she fancies herself. The point is, if she wasn't pretty and didn't have enormous gazongas, she would be selling real estate somewhere. And there is nothing wrong with that, but how has a woman of such limited personality parlayed a pair of big ta-ta's into an acting career?

Check it out. She had a sitcom (1997's Jenny on NBC which lasted like 12 episodes. It was not quite passable as a showcase for the comic genius of Ms. McCarthy. In fact the only cool thing about it was that it took place in Utica (aka Boo-ya-ka), New York. That part is kinda awesome.

Then she had a comedy/variety/sketch show called "The Jenny McCarthy Show", which is kind of ridiculous that a group of very talented writers and comic actors (many of which went on to be on Mr. Show with Bob and David, one of my favorite shows of all time) were playing second-fiddle to this blonde dipshit who was clearly out of her league, comically.

She went on to guest star on various comedy programs and movies as the hot girl with a supposed "wacky side." But nowhere along the line did anyone have the heart to tell Ms. McCarthy that she is not funny. Instead, we have a litany of subpar performances where Jenny makes her patented "wacky face" (which often consists of her either bugging-out or crossing her eyes and making a weird mouth-shape) and talking about how much she loves to fart and poop and throw up. Ya know, to show she's not just a glamour girl. She's one of the guys! It's like she's saying, Yeah, I just happen to be hot by coincidence; guys like me cuz I'm hilarious! Okay Jen, okay...

She wrote some books too, which, if the excerpts are any indication, are side-splittingly mediocre.

Meanwhile, as "funny" as she is, if she looked like Rosie O'Donnell she could kiss 90% of her acting gigs bye-bye.

But there is hope. There are three possible ways that Jenny will drop off the face of the comedy earth and into oblivion (at least when it comes to speaking and/or overemoting).

#1: Dirty Love, the movie she wrote and that her then-husband directed in 2005. Forget the fact that the film grossed a dismal $58,116, as monetary rewards mean very little. I am more interested in the fact that she herself won three Golden Razzbery Awards, a.k.a. The Razzies, which give awards for the worst movies each year. (To give an idea of the movie, there is a scene where Jenny bathes in her own menstrual blood. Hilarious!) She won Worst Actress, Worst Screenplay (oh yeah, Jenny wrote the movie, did I mention that?) and Worst Picture of 2005. To me, this would be proof that perhaps comedy was not the avenue I was meant to traverse down.

#2: Jim Carrey. Supposedly Jenny is dating him. I can only hope that during their tryst, she realizes that Jim is actually a funny person, not just a person who says they are funny over and over so people will start to think it's true (which Jenny has done in countless interviews). Maybe by being exposed to the Maestro -- and I truly do think Jim Carrey is a gifted and unique comic performer -- she will realize that she is way out of her league on the whole comedy thing, and will give up the dream for good. Look, far be it from me to step on someone's career plans, but I think every person I know is funnier than Jenny McCarthy and some just aren't funny at all.

#3: The inexorable passage of time. Look, Jenny is still very young and she still looks great. But she isn't going to be a supermodel forever. Many years down the road, things will begin to sag and she will no longer be the fresh face on the scene. When this happens, I have a feeling more people will have the cojones to tell her that, No, you really aren't that funny. Just because you talk about pee-pee does not make you a hilarious comedienne. I hope it doesn't hurt her feelings, but someone has to tell her.

In a way I feel bad, because Jenny was probably just funny enough to make a person or two laugh, but it was the fact that she was juuuuust good-looking enough to be in Playboy that gave her any kind of exposure at all. It reminds me of someone who becomes a celebrity for acting, then puts out a pop album (coughLindsayLohancough). Why do you think one would translate to the other? For you, Ms. McCarthy, the next time you make me laugh will be the first.

Monday, June 12, 2006

My New Site

For all of you who love rap music as much as I do (or should I say, both of you), I have created a new blog that you can view right here. It is a collection of rap videos from the "golden age" (1988-1993) and they are all stolen from YouTube. I hope you will enjoy it. It's at goldenagehiphop.blogspot.com.

It is all the best videos of my adolescence. Not necessarily the most popular or most well-known, but videos I think are great for one reason or another. I hope you like them too. I will try to update it every couple of days.

Here is a sample of the kind of thing you can enjoy.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yo Mama Is a Poster Child for a College Reunion! Oh Wait, That's Mine...

My mom is on the internet! How cool is that?

This year will be the 40th Anniversary of the Nazareth College class of 1966. It will be a celebration of many old people reuniting to talk about their various health problems, their great-great grandkids, and how to finally nail those bastards from St. John Fisher! I'm only kidding with you mom! And also with you, other miscellaneous old people...

Anyway, if you go to the website, you will see a picture of my own mom from a scant four decades ago.

That's her on the right; back then she was just Nora Brennan, youngest of eight and the bad seed of the family. It was four years before she had the "good fortune" of meeting that s.o.b. Bob Shannon. And the picture was taken a full ten years before Nora helped the human species evolve one more rung by spawning this sexy bastard. So young, and with so much life ahead of her.

Congrats mom, you'll get that degree someday. And tell dad I'm working on getting you one of those grandkids your friends are always talking about. [wink]

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Now I Have Nothing But the Voices in My Head

I have had some trouble sleeping lately anyway. Work has been stressful, life has been stressful, and my body clock is all off. I have been oversleeping and rushing to get to work, when just a few weeks ago I was popping out of bed totally refreshed. Now, I'm afraid I may not sleep again. Not for a while at least.

You see, my "security blanket" is no longer with me. Oh it's there in a physical sense. I can still look at it and touch it, but it is dead. At least for now. It's my stupid iPod.

For a year and a half the iPod has been my constant companion. Any time I had time to kill sitting in a subway or waiting for an oil change, it was there. A long trip always went faster with my iPod, since I could always play the "My Top Rated" playlist, hook up the radio adapter and just drive and drive, feeling the wind blowing through my lustrous, flowing hair. My thick, non-gray mane of copious and luxurious hair. With nothing but rubber tires and my own devestating handsomeness between me and my destination. God, did that iPod make me look handsome, and oh so popular.

It had all my favorite songs on it. Well, maybe not all of them but enough of them. It had like 4400 songs, and while a good half them were probably crappy album filler I didn't want on there in the first place, the other stuff was good. I made my own playlists and made rock and rap mixes. It was like carrying your favorite 500 albums around at any given time.

But now, I get this:

The dreaded "Do Not Disconnect." I tried hooking the 'Pod up to the iTunes software on the computer in my house, and damn if the thing didn't show the above picture for a half hour, whirring and clicking and making all sorts of coughing noises.

It started when I was jogging. (Or maybe it's pronounced "yogging." It could be a soft "j".) I can't jog without music; the sound of the "he-he, hoo-hoo" breathing drives me nuts. I was about a half mile up the road when the song I was listening to (it was "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren) suddenly froze. This is an iPod, not a CD. It's not supposed to freeze! So I did the reset thing and it came back, but started skipping a couple songs on the playlist. Oh well, I thought, must have something to do with the up and down movement of my arms. (I use an arm strap; yes I am that guy.)

But though she gave me a scare a couple times, the old girl would always come back with a quick reset (holding down the 12 o'clock part of the click wheel and the center button for 6 seconds). The battery is shot since I overcharged the thing very early on, but I could still use it to fall asleep.

But Monday night was the last night I heard from her. I was feeling pretty sad, so I decided to fall asleep to Iron & Wine, which is beautiful music about being depressed and sad and feeling lonesome. (Consider, however, two nights prior I was listening to the Dead Kennedys, which is fast-paced surfer-punk music that gets me all riled up. I am so bi-polar.) Little did I know that I&W's "Promising Light" would be the last song I fell asleep to. Now that song is even sadder than before.

The next day, I turned the 'Pod on, saw the Apple symbol, and then saw that horrible "contact apple support" icon they use. It even had a picture of an iPod with a frown on its face. Very sad.

So now, since I don't have a CD player in my room, I have nothing but the dulcit tones of my brain. Of course, last night I had that Peanut Butter Jelly Time song stuck in my head, rendering sleep a near-impossibility. (By the way, what does peanut butter and jelly have to do with a baseball bat? Kinky, but I'm not sure I want to know.)

What do I do? Do I break out the old Walkman and listen to forgotten tapes I copied of Mike Cialini in 10th grade? Do I go with the clock radio, where I could either listen to ESPN or late night political conspiracy theories? Or perhaps I could open up the window and be subject to trash talking teens, police sirens and that mystery dripping sound in the back yard. No, I'll probably let my overactive brain drive me nuts as I toss and turn until the clock strikes two.

So if I look grumpy and/or sleepy in the morning, you'll know why. Well, partially anyway.

New Helmet, New City, Same Ol' Vanderjagoff

I know I have beaten this topic to death, but for the love of Pete would this guy please just shut up?

In a June 4th article on sports illustrated .com, Mike Vanderjagt, the greatest regular season kicker (statistically) in the history of football was interviewed about playing for the Dallas Cowboys this year, after a horrifying field goal miss in the 2005 AFC Divisional Playoffs. By the way, in the nearly 20 years I have spent watching professional football, I can say without an ounce of hyperbole that Vanderjagt's miss is the worst field goal kick I have ever seen, regular or post season. How his name is not synonymous with Scott Norwood is beyond me.

In defense of how the missed kick would affect his legacy, Vandy said the following:

"Michael Jordan missed game-winning jump shots, Tiger Woods missed putts. Does that mean they're not as good as you think they are?"

"I'm the best kicker in the history of the game regardless of whether I missed my last kick or not, and that's the way I look at it."

Two quick notes.

One, I am hardly an apologist for either Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. In fact, I think it's fair to say no two athletes been overhyped over the last 15 years as Jordan and Woods. However, at the very least, these men have proven that they could make clutch plays when it counted. For Vanderjagt to even mention his own name in the same breath as those two is laughable. It's an absolute joke. While Michael and Tiger may have missed a clutch shot or two, they also MADE a couple of them, which seems to overshadow the misses.

Two, being the "best kicker in the game" is not defined by your field goal percentage. It is defined by making the kicks you need to make. Ask anyone who they think is better: Vanderjagt, or his replacement in Indy, Adam Vinatieri. Anyone who wouldn't say the latter should never be allowed to speak about football to other humans. Again, I am no fan of the Patriots, but Vinatieri made three clutch kicks in the Super Bowl, and the one in the Snow Bowl. There is no way Vinatieri misses that kick against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Absolutely no way. At home, in a dome, not a chance.

What is so frustrating about this guy is that no one in the media seems to call him out on this delusions of grandeur. Other players call the guy a chump, but the media won't. Is it because he's Canadian? Is it because he wears an earring?

I cannot wait until his next ridiculous miss and subsequent press conference, followed by Bill Parcells sticking an umbrella up his ass and then opening it. Please, let it happen.

Return of the Blue and Gold?

Now, I know I have barraged some of my less hockey-centric readers (which is to say, both of you) with a lot of Sabres stuff, but I think they will go down as one of my favorite sports teams ever. I think I will make a blog about that very topic later. Hmmmm...

Anyway, since their season is over and I don't really want to let them go yet, I thought I would just pop up this proposal for possible new uniforms for the 2006-07 season. The proposals come from Celsius Design, and they are completely unofficial. In fact, the web site does not appear to have been updated since 2003, when I was but a tyke of 27 years old. Yes, that does put it all in perspective, doesn't it.

Anyway, here it is.

Very sharp design and I love the colors. It's an updated version of the classic old charging buffalo, but with stronger colors (gold instead of just plain yellow) and an updated, more fierce design. Quite honestly, I was never a huge fan of the blue and yellow unis. Not until they were gone. But the black and red with the Goat Head has grown on me.

Of course I am sort of a hypocrite because I always talk about how much I hate black as a primary color for any team. But at the time, the team needed a new look and anyone who remembers those teams of 1996-97 (ie. none of you except maybe Javen) knows, they did begin a string of several solid seasons over the next few years until they went bankrupt in 2003.

Here's hoping that regardless what decision they've made about new uniforms, they don't screw it up. If it can forge a new identity with a new hockey powerhouse, so be it. Clothes do make the man.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Keepin' It (Mont)Real (aka "So Many Feelings")

On the weekend of June 26th through 29th, three brave Americans intrepidly infiltrated the borders of Canada, en route to Montreal, PQ, Canada. They were Javen, T.T. and Bill. This is their story....

Friday, June 26, 2006

Things began auspiciously enough. I arrived at Javen's Schenectady compound at approximately 7PM, just in time to head to the beer store to gobble up two sixers of delicious craft brewery. (I went with the wheats and IPA's, Jables went with stouts and porters, of course.)

We headed back to the house to catch the first period of the Sabres game, when E.C.Paul and Becky showed up. We agreed that it was time for some food and drink. I am always game to play the fifth wheel, so we headed to Slick's, home of the biggest goddamn sandwiches I have ever seen. No joke. These bastards are enormous, with stacks upon stacks of meat, encased in very thin white bread. The sandwiches are great, but the bartender (the elderly wife of the owner) is not very good at her job. We gorge ourselves and leave.

Next stop is the Van Dyck, which is a brewpub and a classy little joint. They had a pretty solid pale ale that I enjoyed. Suddenly, our old college buddy Mike Short (aka Slim Colt) showed up and it suddenly started raining. Coincidence??? Yeah, probably. We went inside and decided it would be better to take off and hit B.L.'s, a favorite spot of Javen's.

Here is where the story gets a little interesting. Not very interesting, but a little. Before we go to B.L.'s, Slim says he's hungry and wants to hit Burger King. We go through the drive-thru and Slim gets some food. (I tell him that he should say to the person at the drive-thru, "Keep the change, ya filthy animal," which of course, is from Home Alone. (Perhaps quoting Home Alone is the bottom of the barrel, but at this point, I don't care.)

So, since it's raining, we don't want to have Slim eat his food outside. So we go into the bar and order what is likely to be our first of several pitchers. Anyway, the bar's owner, Frank, starts cursing and being, well, quite frankly, a dick. He is drunk and starts saying "We have a kitchen here, you can't bring goddamn Burger King in here!" Javen tells the surly drunkard that the kitchen is almost always closed at that time, and Javen should know because he's what you call a "regular." So Slim, a gentleman always, leaves the bar with his food to finish it in his car.

Meanwhile, Javen is still arguing with the owner about the kitchen and saying how he is there every other night and can he just calm down. Suddenly, some 19 year old punk at the bar, full of alcohol and clearly looking for trouble, starts chiming in saying, "Hey! It's his bar, I'd say it's his rules!" And he actually starts staring Javen down. I'm eyeballing the kid to make sure he doesn't start any shit. He does. The kid lunges at Javen and grabs his arm. I swiftly horse-collar him like Roy Williams on Terrell Owens and bring the back of his head crashing to the ground. The kid screams as I pummel his face. Paul then pulls out a knife with a serrated blade, puts it to the kid's throat and says, "There are six million ways to die. Choose one."

Okay, everything from "He does" to "choose one" never happened. But we did leave a full pitcher on the bar, unpaid for, and walked away triumphantly.

We decided to round out the night by hitting a pair of other small bars, knocking back a few and having a hearty laugh. We watched two tough-guy townies joylessly sing Metallica's "Unforgiven" and then left. Naturally, everyone wanted to end the evening eating pizza with no cheese on it, which to me is really just soggy bread smothered in tomato sauce. For shame.

Oh and the Sabres lost. We went to bed. Billy go night-night. Zzzzzz....

Saturday, June 27, 2006

Jav, T.T. and I woke up and proceeded to prepare for our trip to Montreal. We swiftly packed our belongings and hopped in the car. I did not shower, a move both my co-passengers and I would soon regret.

We got on the road and headed north without much incident after some Dunkin Donuts bagels and coffee. Everything was fine for about 2.5 hours, until...

We hit the Canadian border and proceeded to sit in traffic in excess of 90 minutes. It was a hellish bataan death march just south of the 49th parallel. I hated every second of it. And to top it off, poor T.T. was ... let's just say not feeling well, and the staid air and lack of flowing air didn't help her any. Poor poor T.T.

We finally -- FINALLY -- got over the border, where we were finally able to all use the restroom and then get some snacks. I got those maple cookies that are filled with maple syrup and are shaped like maple leafs. Okay, we get it: maple! And plus, everything was in French? Where the hell were we??? I mean it's like a whole different country!

We traversed the twisty roads of the M-T-L and, well, long story short, we were naked at rest stop. Oh wait, different trip. Sorry. But we did get one of the greatest in-context quotes of my young life on the trip from the border to our hotel. T.T., feeling the effects of her physical ailment, as well as the frustration of getting semi-lost what with the French road signs and all, said, with 100% sincerity, "I'm having so many feelings!" Well naturally Javen and I laughed for about a half hour, enjoying all the possibilities that phrase could entail.

We got to our hotel carrying brutally heavy bags and checking in. (It should be noted that when it comes to trips, I pack like a woman. I pack at for at least one day more than I actually plan to be on any given trip. I mean, what if I shit myself or something?)

We checked in, showered, watched some weird French TV show with naked breasts and person who looked like a cross-dressing Al Leiter, and looked at some awesome internet stuff like the David Brent dance from "The Office," (which starts off great before turning excruciating) the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" video (which gets stuck in your head like you wouldn't believe), and of course, the coup de grace, the video of the retarded girl who learns about menstruation. Gross. I am so glad I am not a woman. Even if I pack for a vacation like one.

We then headed out into the Fleur De Lis city! (I'm not sure if they actually call Montreal "The Fleur De Lis City" but it sure sounds good.) We hit McLean's for dinner, then the Claddaugh Bar, then Brutopia, a microbrew where the beer actually got better toward the bottom of the glass. We met my sister Kate and her boyfriend Scott there and enjoyed the delightful camaraderie. We went to a weird bar called Mad Hatters, which was cool cuz it was outside, and also had poutine, which is the greatest food known to man. French fries, cheese curds and gravy? What culinary immortal conjured up this orgasm of the taste buds?

Anyway, toward the end of the night, this drunk, Troy Polamalu-looking douche started stumbling around and almost spilled beer on T.T. and Kate. Kate pulled the umbrella out of the table we were sitting at and threatened to shove it where le soleil didn't shine, but Troy appeared too drunk to notice. We decided to call it a night. Billy go night-night. Zzzzzzz...

Sunday, June 28, 2006

Sunday felt like a Saturday, and would be our most exhausting day yet. I began the morning by doing the David Brent dance, to which T.T. giggled. She accused me of violating her in a most unsavory manner while Javen was in the shower, and Javen laughed. We had breakfast at Dunn's, which is a nice little diner that specializes in smoked meat. I got a hamburger, slightly wary of smoked meat and all it entailed.

It was a hot day out, that's for sure. We walked to Old Montreal, which feels like a very old old city with lots of people. We walked past Chinatown (where I took a very bad picture of some tourists) and toward the St. Lawrence. T.T. regaled us once again with the story of the homeless Montreal lady she once saw eating a pigeon. It's a story that never gets old. People were being very romantic and cuddling in the park and some were kissing each other. I got a little sad, but it was nice. We saw a man who looked like the singer Seal, dressed in a suit and riding a bicycle. There was a "trained seal" joke there somewhere but I wisely avoided it.

Then T.T. started to get whiny. Suddenly it was, "I want a popsicle." "I want a sno-cone." "I want a popsicle by the water." Our feet were hurting and it was hot as blazes, so we decided to get some food. I was actually able to poop in a public restroom and I got some juice and we headed to a brewpub. We went to a brewpub whose name I could not being to pronounce, but they had an excellent Hefe-Weizen there. Although, as Javen said, it could have been the circumstance of being so hot and thirsty that it's possible the Hef was just average and just perfect for the moment. Either way, I liked it.

What I didn't like was the first taste I got of bad Montreal service. The bar wench brought our beers out to us, which consisted of literally walking from one side of a table to the other, and I paid her. She then asked if the service fee was included in the price. I had no idea what she was talking about so I nodded, and she walked away a bit huffily. Javen said she was asking for a tip. I am a big tipper, so I was ready to give her a sizeable one for the next round, but when we were done, she took her sweet time serving us. So the tip went away.

We went to a market where we bought all sorts of exotic foods. I bought some cookies for the room and some green tea, for which Javen of course made fun of me. I bought one of those Full Throttle energy drinks too, knowing I would be taking a nap soon and would need to wake up.

The day was so hot and we were so exhausted from all that walking that we went back to the hotel for a nap. I laid my head on the puffy pillow and slept for either 20 minutes or two hours, I'm still not sure. When I awoke, I was groggy, but ready to head out once again, this time for some beer and hockey!

Here was the most frustrating part of the trip: back at McLean's, we sat down and contemplated eating, though none of us were really that hungry. We ordered drinks -- in this case Leffe -- and when the waitress asked what size, we said the 32 ounce size for like $8 Canadian (which is scarily close to $8 American right now, by the way). So the waitress with a thick French accent leaves for a moment and comes back, and here is our exchange:

Waitress: Would you like the 20 ounce because I can' give you the 30 ounce.
Me: Okay, then I'll take the 32 ounce.
Waitress: But I can' give you the 30 ounce.
Me: Alright, then that's what I'll have. The 32 ounce, just like it says on the menu.
Waitress: But I am telling you, I can' give it to you.
Me: Fair enough, then please do.
Waitress: You are not understanding, I can' give you the 30 ounce, I can only give the 20 ounce of this.
Me (after a pause): Are you saying you "can" give it to us, or "cannot" give it to us?
Waitress: I canNAUT.
Me: Then ya know what? Fuck it, bring the 20 ounce.

When she left, Javen called her a very bad swear word and laughed derisively. She still took forever to bring us the drinks. And we were about to jet and leave the money on the table since the Sabres lost another overtime heartbreaker. As we were leaving, our Frenchie waitress (who, to be perfectly fair, was the only one working in a semi-crowded bar/restaurant) said very snottily (or "Frenchily"), "Were you going to pay?" Interesting that the only time a fella can get attention at a bar is when he is about to leave and the server is afraid she is going to lose out on her money. Javen showed her the money on the table, and then -- possibly as a knee-jerk reaction -- gave her a tip she so richly did not deserve.

We went out into the brisk night air to see if we could find any more delicious beer, but then remembered it was Sunday, and Canadians don't celebrate Memorial Day. And even in a city as big as Montreal, things close down early on Sundays. So we took T.T. home and Javen and I embarked for one last big score. There was one kinda loud (but relatively empty) bar that had some decent stuff in there I had never heard of (Jav, you may have to help me remember what we drank there), so we had two and went back to the Marriott. It is very calming and nice to sit by the window and drink a couple of Sleeman's before hitting the sack, so we just did that. Zzzzzzz....

Monday, June 29, 2006

We took a shower and one last look at the hotel room. We had shared so much there. The toilet, the shower, the TV. I still miss it.

We went to Rotisserie-St. Hubert for lunch. The chicken there is very good, but my favorite thing is the restaurant logo which looks like a French chicken wagging it's finger and saying "Uh-uh-OHHHH, en francaaaaaiiiis!" I was still bloated since I had stupidly had a Pop-Tart so we hit the road.

We had come up with the notion of going to Ikea, but due to the aforementioned French signage, this was simply not to be. Having passed the exit(s) to get there (partially due to some rather inconveniently-placed 18-wheelers that were blocking key exit signs), we decided to take the scenic route to the Vermont border crossing. We got food at the duty free and T.T. successfully convinced the border guard to let us carry our bags of snacks across. This wait was only about 20 minutes instead of the 90-minute nightmare of two days prior. Plus, we got to watch Dave Chappelle on T.T.'s video iPod, and we all nearly peed our pants laughing at the "Grape Juice vs. Grape Drink" part:

White Guy: Todd, would you like some grape juice?
Black Guy: Nigga what the fuck is JUICE? I want some grape drink, baby!
White Guy: I don't have any grape drink. I have some apple juice.
Black Guy: Nigga, WHAT the FUCK is JUICE? I want apple DRINK!

It's so funny.

After the border, we went into Burlington, Vermont for a little while. It is a very interesting, hippy-ish, but quaint town with a lot of shops and whatnot. I still could not get any reception without roaming, but at least Javen and T.T. got the call from ECP that their cat, Symon, was still alive.

We headed back to New York State and T.T. drove as crazily as ever, nearly missing several pedestrians and one large horse. I think the horse actually called her an asshole. We got back to the Electric City and a couple last ones for the road at a delicious bar-b-que which included a delicious brisket, some hot dogs, various vegetable salads, and about 50 billion mosquitoes. I hit the road and headed home.

All in all, we didn't go too crazy, but we had a wonderfully fun time in Montreal. When you can laugh and giggle with the weirdest couple you know, that's how you know it's working!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dagger in the Heart

Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres lost game 7 to Carolina
I didn't even expect them to make it this far, so I should be grateful. But it still hurts.

Boy, were they a blast this year, though. Thanks fellas.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Doug Gorman is a Dude

I just wanted to take a second to acknowledge my good friend Doug Gorman. Doug is a very smart and talented young man. He happened to just graduate from Syracuse Law School. Oh, and he also graduated first in his class. Anyone who knows Doug is not surprised by this.
This is a picture of Doug, his beautiful wife (and another good friend of mine) Rachel and their adorable baby Catherine. Those are excellent genes, folks.

Now this is a picture of Doug with a guy named Joe Biden. One of these men is a future president of the United States. The other is a current senator from Delaware.

Congrats guys, I love you and can't wait to visit you.