Saturday, September 30, 2006

Three Quarters Through 2006

In this, my 31st year on this planet (yes, I am only 30, but I am currently in the midst of my 31st year), a lot has occurred in my life. But how do I assess it? I think I would say that things have gone down in the same manner as why my dentist told me I should brush my gums.

My dentist, Dr Sveen -- thanks for the straight teeth, and my parents say "you're welcome" for the yacht -- told me that I should always floss and brush my gums. Because, you see, if you brush your gums, they will bleed a bit at first, but in the long run, they will be stronger and provide a better foundation in which one's teeth could rest comfortably. Now, I am not a vain person, but I must say that with the exception of a small gap between my right maxillary second premolar and my right maxillary first molar, my teeth are breathtakingly straight. Due to the uncertainties of life, I am very much aware that I am one fistfight or car accident or corn on the cob hazard away from having my stellar fronts removed from their status of quasi-perfection. But boy am I beside the point.

My point was this: though we go through some hard times and rough changes, we learn to be stronger. And not in a calloused, cynical way, but rather in a way that makes us stronger and more apt to handle all the twists and turns that life gives us. And I have found more twists and turns in my life in the last half-year than ever before.

2006 has been a year of transition for me, and though I may have bled a bit at first, I am finding that it is only making me stronger. I have found that I am capable of existing in a plane that is befitting me. I have rediscovered the importance of friendship, my appreciation for delicious craft beer, the importance of introspection, and perhaps something even more special. I have allowed a lot of special people into my life, and though they might not realize it, they have all left a trace of themselves upon me.

I'm in a good place right now. I have been able to travel to visit some old friends with which I have had varying degrees of contact, but keep a solid home base. Though I have left Syracuse several times in the last few months, my heart is always back here waiting for me when I return. I have learned that it is better to put myself "out there" rather than be safe all the time.

I have been able to explore my inner self. (Yes, I know this all sounds very Buddhist, but it's the truth.) I am finding that certain flaws I have are not really flaws at all. And that the flaws I do have are not all my fault. I am at a point where I can pinpoint the negativity that has befell me over the last several years and overcome it. I have rediscovered my self-worth and realized that yes, dammit, I am a good person, and worthwhile. And that my flaws, while numerous, do not relegate me to second-class status. I know that I have a lot to offer anyone willing to look hard enough. Sure, you have to look really really really hard to see it, but I am worth the effort.

I've dropped over 20 lbs since April. Not bragging, just a numerical fact.

Most importantly, I have learned that sometimes the unknown -- while terrifying at times -- can be wonderfully exciting as well. Unlike before, I would rather take a chance on something and fail than never explore it at all. But I will continue to try my best to make everything fall into place.

No matter what the following weeks, months and years bring, I know that I am on the right path. I am supported by a wonderful group of people who have all unwittingly banded together to lift me up like a crowd surfer of a decade ago. To all 143,000 of you that have been there to hold me up, I say thank you. You know who you all are, and you have helped me rediscover the Me that was missing for so long.

Things are looking up. And maybe happiness isn't so far away after all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

David Brent: Microsoft Management Consultant

This is a promotional video that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (creators of the original British version of The Office) created for Microsoft. I think these two are brilliant, but you have to like British humor to get it. The first video is 20 mins, the second video is 17 minutes. And it's gold.

They actually showed these videos at a Microsoft employee meeting. If only my company could pull these guys to make corporate training videos.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Buffalo Bills 2006: Good Lord Could They Actually Be Any Good?

Cautious optimism be damned! This video got me so pumped up for the Bills this season. Even if they tank, I am feeling pretty good about them right now.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Have Nothing to Blog About

My copious fan base has been begging me to come up with some sort of topic to blog about, but let's face it, I have nothing. And no one gives a shit what I have to say anyway (to paraphrase the title of this very blog you hold in your hand).

So I'm going to simply spout out some arbitrary type stuff that I've been thinking of. Wanna hear it here it go...

  • I think it's kind of hilarious that Muslims are getting all bent out of shape about the Pope reciting a 600 year old bit of text by Manuel II Paleologus, that Pope Benedict XVI recited. Let's remember folks: Muslims refuse to take any of these Islamofascist terrorists to task for carbombing, suicide bombing, and hijacking. Oh but Allah forbid that the Pope recite something from six centuries ago, or that someone draw a picture of the prophet. Oh, then suddenly the protests come out hot and heavy. (Come on, do these people have anything better to do with their time than stand in crowds and burn things? Do they????) These people who stand up against words, images and dialogue, yet refuse to condemn carnage and the loss of innocent civilian lives at the hands of their terrorist brethren are simply cowards. Take a look in the mirror and the culture that those who have hijacked your religion has brought you.

  • I am a little leery of people who are dead-set against all immigration to this country. To me, it is a form of racism, due to the fact that it is mostly people with brown skin who are moving into our country through the southern border. These are the same people who embrace California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and want to actually add a constitutional amendment to make him -- A FOREIGNER -- eligible to run for president. Oh I get it: it's okay for a white person to come into our country and lead the nation, but if someone with brown skin wants to come in and clean toilets for a living, that's not okay? Makes perfect sense.

    I'm not saying we should have all-out barnstorming through our borders, but let's look at the people who are so adamant against these laws. Most of them are white Republicans. And they hold onto this ideal of some pure American way. Do you know what they are really afraid of? They are really afraid of Mexican (or other Latino cultures) infiltrating their pure southern ways of life. They are afraid of races combining. That is the truth; but they won't say it. They don't give a shit about jobs; these migrant workers do jobs that none of us would be willing to do. It's a matter of wanting to keep the brown people out of our country, plain and simple.

  • I love beer. I love beer so much. And it's not because I'm some stupid fratboy who just loves to get drunk. I love knowing about beer. I love being a beer "snob." I love being able to take a sip of a beer and identify what style it is. I love paying over $8 for a six-pack. I love calling Javen and Bruce and asking them to give me suggestions. I love seeing a wall of beer at a beer store and being totally overwhelmed by what to get. It's the same feeling I used to get at record stores when I was in high school. I love rating beers at Beer Advocate. I love looking in my fridge and seeing an IPA, an ale, a Wit, a double IPA, a bitter, a winter ale, a stout and a porter, and knowing I can choose any one I like. But why? I can't quite figure it out.

  • I watched that show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip the other night and I have such mixed feelings. (It's that show about a Saturday Night Live-type show where everything goes haywire and they have to revamp everything.) The show started off with such a bullshit, ripped-off premise: the head of a late night sketch show goes crazy one night and starts ranting about how horrible television is, how bad networks have gotten, art vs. commerce. It's a total rip-off of the movie Network, directed by Sidney Lumet. In fact, in the pilot, all the so-called news organizations reporting the exec-producer's meltdown all mention Network and the movie's screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. As if simply knowing that reference puts the show in some rarified air. (Yes we have resorted to TV shows referencing other movies.)

    The creator of the show, Aaron Sorkin, is a thorn in my side. I want to like his stuff. He wrote the movies A Few Good Men and The American President, as well as created the TV shows "Sports Night" and "The West Wing." On one hand, I really want to like his material. He really seems to want to advance the art of dialogue. But every time I sit down and watch any of his shows or movies, they turn into the same preachy, didactic drivel that I hate. He wants so badly to teach all of us how to think and how to be. And also, all his shows are fraught with all this high-falutin' dialogue, and then someone saying something so dramatic that everyone else in the room has to stop and stare in awe, and then those same people being inspired to do something important and great.

    Listen folks, I don't need Aaron fucking Sorking to tell me how to think. If I want someone to tell me how to think, I will look to David Mamet, Paul Thomas Anderson, Charlie Kaufman, Richard Price, Mitchell Hurwitz, Matt Groenig, Marshall Rawson Thurber, Joel and Ethan Coen, Billy Wilder, Larry David and/or Vincent Gallo. These people can set me straight. Aaron Sorkin is a hack.

    Oh, and by the way, the best show on TV right now is "How I Met Your Mother." It's the best show now that "Arrested Development" is off the air. Although they ARE showing it on the cable channel G4! Check it out! In a way, maybe it's good for me that "Arrested D" got cancelled. When it was on, every other show looked like crap by comparison. Now that I am forced to try out other shows, it's making me a little more tolerant.

  • I am very happy that my Bills are 1-1 right now, considering most preseason "experts" (notice the ironic use of quotations marks) picked them to win a maximum of like four games. But if there is anything we football fans know, it's that you don't know a goddamn thing at the end of Week Two. I would love to see my Herd rip through the next fourteen games and come out with a winning record and [gasp] make the playoffs. And some people have noticed that "our" defense is playing really well. It's true, but let's not forget back in 2003 when Buffalo started 2-0, and everyone was calling them the best team in the league, before they shit the bed and ended the season 6-10. I am all about unearned optimism, but we have a lot of season left; let's not get carried away. (However, I must confess that if they do win the Super Bowl, it will probably wipe away 30 years of heartache across the board. I don't think any one player on that team can possibly fathom how much their successs means to me, psychologically.)

  • I wonder if there has ever been an epidemic I have been less worried about than the E.Coli/Spinach situation.

  • Your boy "W" will go down as one of the five worst presidents in our country's history. Put it on the board. I trust our government so little that when I hear that they condemned the recent coup d'etat in Thailand, I'm starting to wonder if it's a good idea.

  • Here is a list of people I currently hate: Terrell Owens, Oprah, Pete Dougherty, Drew Rosenhaus, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Hugo Chavez, director Kevin Smith, Paris Hilton, Dick Vitale. Add your own!

So that's about all I got. I hope you enjoyed the smattering of bullcrap that I was able to spit out there. I'm sure you don't give two shits about it, but it's the best I can do.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Buffalo 16, Miami 6

Pretty much the only thing that's made me smile since Tuesday afternoon...

One of Culpooper's multiple fumbles

LB Angelo Crowell with a huge "inner" before halftime

T.McGee denying Dolphins asshole receiver Randy McMichael

Willis pounding away

Oh, and thank you boys, for rockin the white pants with the blue jerseys, instead of that monochrome eye-sore bullshit. It looks so much better.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Buffalo Slugs?

Few on this earth can hang with my love of the Buffalo Sabres. Javen for one. My little brother Mike is another. But other than that, not many.

I am not so sure, however, about my feelings on the new logo they are going to be unveiling. [Note: they say this is only one aspect of the new logo, which they are unveiling on September 16, so this may be a tad premature, but you know I'm always on the cutting edge.]

It would be a cool secondary logo, actually, as it is indicative of a certain style. But as a primary logo -- the one to be worn on the front of the jersey and on all the merchandise, the identity of the team -- it is a bit too abstract and doesn't actually look like a buffalo. People on certain message boards are calling it the Buffaslug.

What makes things even harder to swallow is that the logo below has been floating around for about three years.

It was proposed by a guy named John Slabyk who is a logo designer. He brought the idea to Tom Golisano and the Sabres organization, and they balked for whatever reason. I think this design is great. It's classy, has a nice color scheme, and is a sharp update of their classic uniform from 1970-1995, shown here:

I have mixed feelings about their last uniform, known to many of us as the "Goat Head."

Ultimately, though, it became a symbol of a team that was very good for a long time (except for a few years) and nearly made the Stanley Cup Finals last year.

One thing I do like about the new logo is that they keep the buffalo/buffaslug's trademark red eye, which all the logos have had. I'm not sure why I like that, but there's something nice about the continuity there.

It's not like I'm gonna stop rooting for the Sabres if their uniforms suck, but with all the great concepts and options I've seen out there, I would think that they would think long and hard about it, and hopefully listen to the fans. It's worked before, when the Islanders got rid of their Gorton's fisherman logo after one season due to fan complaints, and the 49ers scrapped their infamous and godawful "One Day Helmet" after (take a guess) only one day, due to public outrage. Tom Golisano, who is a billionaire and owns the Sabres, did not become a billionaire by being unsavvy. I am hoping that he does the right thing and makes the jerseys and logo aesthetically pleasing.

[Update: There is video of the ice rink painted with the new logo below.]

Horatio Show-Blower

I read on Wikipedia today that Horatio Sanz will probably not be returning to Saturday Night Live this year. And I have to say, I am thrilled.

A lot of people think SNL sucks, and I can kind of see why sometimes. A lot of the skits are less than hilarious, and some entire shows are just subpar beyond belief. There are too many recurring characters, too many impressions of famous people. I've heard it all. But I have always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Saturday Night Live. Just when you think it's past its prime, it will reinvent itself, usually with a massive talent like Eddie Murphy, Dana Carvey (and yes, he was amazing on that show) or Will Ferrell.

It's still hit or miss; any 90-minute live show is going to be. But they will evenutally pull something hilarious out like "Lazy Sunday" [Note: sorry for the link, NBC took it off the internet, greedy bastards] or "Bill Brasky" that will be really great and transcendent. Remember, the history of SNL writers includes Conan O'Brien, Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel (aka Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), Stephen Colbert and Adam McKay (writer/director of Anchorman). So the show is still a breeding ground for talent.

Also, I think they have really upgraded the talent (if not the writing) over the last few years. I think that the four newbies from last year (Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader and Rochester native Kristen Wiig) are all very talented performers. The writing was definitely not up to snuff last year overall, but there were really funny moments here and there.

But for the life of me I have never understood why they kept Horatio Sanz around. I don't know if it was a diversity thing, being that Horatio was the first Latino cast member of the show, or that he's just such a nice guy and they couldn't bear to let him go. Those are the only two options I can think of.

Horatio -- and how can I put this lightly -- is the single unfunniest comic actor I have ever seen. And I have seen a lot of bad comedy. I have a very high threshold for comedy, because I know how hard it could be. But Horatio took bad comedy to a high art form. His performances are so one-note, with very little actual humor accompanying his acting. There are so many elements that contribute to his startling mediocrity.

Firstly, he is always laughing at himself and his own jokes. This is not like The Carol Burnett Show where the cast members were genuinely trying not to crack up; this is a case of Horatio mugging for the camera and trying to act extra "wacky" to get the other cast members -- notably the since-disappeared Jimmy Fallon -- to just laugh it up during the skits. This became such an epidemic that it ruined nearly any skit that Sanz and his tittering monkey-boy Fallon were in together. It even seemed to me (with no confirmation) that exec-producer Lorne Michaels even separated the two of them, or moved their skits to the end of the night (when they are usually sub par anyway). But it was such a predictable and forced diversion that it smacked of desperation. Whenever Jimmy Fallon and Horatio were the two main players in a skit, you could bet that there would be some unplanned giggling. Oh how amusing! To see people crack each other up by smiling at each other!

Horatio's diversity as a comic actor is also limited. He typically plays one of two characters: a waddling fat stone-faced (or stoner) type (Chubb Hotty, Frankie) or the over-the-top screamer who would often laugh at himself in character (Carol, Gobi). He rarely deviates from these types. If they wanted a fat guy to basically play two characters, they could have hired me. I could use the money.

In addition, Horatio is a mediocre-to-poor impressionist. The main reason for this is that he is so fat. Not that I am against fat folks, I count myself among them. But how can you do an impression of Elton John or Ozzy Osbourne or Saddam Hussein or (one of his worst) Billy Joel when you are 300+ lbs? You can't exactly disappear into character when you have five chins. When SNL had Chris Farley, they at least gave him characters of fat guys and limited his impressions. Chris Farley was a bit limited too in his comedy, but he had a lot more authenticity.

Horatio to me is like the guy or gal at work who is lazy and generally incompetent, yet keeps getting promoted. In the course of the show, they let go much more compelling talents than Horatio (notably Robert Riggle and Jeff Richards) and yet made Horatio a featured performer. But the guy single-handedly ruined more skits than I can even count.

There are lots of rumors saying that Horatio may or may not be gone. Lorne Michaels has confirmed that he is firing four cast members, and I swear to all that is holy that if he gets rid of Fred Armisen or Will Forte and keeps Horatio Sanz I will boycott the show for at least like five episodes. (I'll catch them in reruns.)

Mr. Show - Founding Fathers

From one of the great comedies of our time.

Ever wonder why it's impossible to defecate on the flag? Swearing in the video, might not be safe for work. Or "NSFW" in internet geek talk. Also, the guy who plays Lincoln in the video is Syracuse native Tom Kenney, whom many of you may know as the voice of Spongebob Squarepants.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Okay, this sounds like a really pretentious and stupid thing for a fat guy to say but ...

I joined a gym.

I got tired of being round and would rather be oblong and I decided that if I was paying actual money, it would motivate me to use the facilities and equipment I paid for. It's a very modest gym, close to my work. And it's nice because it's nothing but old guys and teenagers just looking to work up a sweat. No vain people just trying to get checked out or pick up chicks or whatever. At least not that I've seen. So it's great, I run in, I run a little, I lift a little, I check out some CNN to see what went to hell today, I shower and I'm out. Oh, and then of course I blow it on the weekends by eating my face off, but that's beside the point. I am not posting this to brag about being in a gym.

Mostly my experiences in the gym have been positive, but let me just relay two negative things, and maybe they are minor, but they are irritating.

1) Old guys walking around naked. Now, maybe I am just weird about this. Maybe I should be at the age where it's not abnormal to see another grown man in the nude. But I am still freaked out by it. I don't know why. It's not like I'm some prude or afraid I'll turn gay or anything. It's just off-putting and disorienting to be in a common area, and suddenly see some overweight 60-year old's wrinkly man-parts dangling in plain sight, all while he pretends there's nothing weird about it. (Mind you, I have never made direct eye contact with anyone in the locker room, nor will I ever. And I certainly haven't checked out any dude's wedding tackle. But dammit, I know it's there.)

What ever happened to towels? Do you know what I do? I will wear the sweaty boxers that I wore to work out in allll the way to the shower, carrying my towel and clean boxers. Then, right at the very precipice of the shower area, I will then remove the sweaty unmentionables, put them on the bench outside, then walk into the shower area and mastur....uh shower myself. Shower myself off and get clean and all that. Then I dry myself, reach around and grab the clean boxers, and walk into the common area with my dignity intact. It's the least I can do.

2) Talky gym rats. It seems that every time I go into the locker room area, there is some old dude there just talking and talking and talking. It's usually a situation where some poor guy is trying to change and get the hell out of there, and another older guy is just yapping away about something or other. All the while, the talker just blathers, and the talkee just says "mm-hmmm" and "yup" and other dismissive responses, all while trying to not feel violated by the talker's uncomfortable proximity.

Most of these guys are just good-natured old timers who just like to chat and it's all very harmless, although it's one of the reasons I am loathe to befriend anyone there. I don't need to be talked-at. There was, however, an incident today where a guy was very boorish and irritating. First of all, I walked into the locker room, and there is a big biker-looking guy, probably about 58 years old, long hair, beard, denim vest, bandana on his head. He is just standing around, blocking walkways, in front of the mirror, and in front of the old-school scale, which I like to check to see how much weight I haven't lost.

I am ready to get changed and get a move on, but this guy starts talking and is very rude. He's complaining about something to some other poor guy who couldn't care less, and everything out of his mouth is "fucking-this-fucking-that." I get it, you're a big tough biker guy who likes to swear. Tough guy. Don't wanna mess with you. Message received. Now shut the "fuck" up and get away from the hair dryer. (I can dream, can't I?)

Moreover, the guy is just sitting on a bench. He is not changing. He is not getting ready to work out. He is not in exercise clothes. He is just walking and standing in a men's locker room. I almost said something to the effect of "Hey, how can a homeless guy afford a gym membership?" but then I ran the risk of getting into a scuffle where I would have inevitably been picked up and thrown directly into some senior citizen's testicles. Wisely I kept my witty barb to myself.

So I go and do my workout for about an hour (y'know, run 15 miles, 10 sets of 30 reps, 400-lb dead-lift, the usual), and when I come back into the locker room, biker-boy is still there. And this time he's complaining about something totally different. ("Those fucking people at the fucking fair are so fucking rude. I'm not gonna be fucking pushing and shoving to get on a fucking bus to the fucking fair. They don't have any fucking class." I swear that last sentence is a direct quote.) Does this guy have his head so far up his ass that he doesn't realize what a buffoon he sounds like? Or is he doing it for effect? To exhibit some sort of oratory dominance? I don't know and I don't want to find out. I just don't want him to be there next time. At least he wasn't naked.

Tossin' Around the Pretend Pigskin

There is a difference between fantasy and life. Fantasy football is fantasy, and football is life.

This is why I am a little scared to enter my first foray in about five years into Fantasy Football. I have played before, but this year I think I am going to get sucked into it more than usual. My friend D. Blakes invited me to join a fantasy football league, and at press time the kinks are still being worked out. (Three teams in the league have a bye week every week, which means they don't play, which means they can't win. But we'll get it all worked out, don't worry Willie.)

I have always like fantasy football, because it gives me a reason to follow games I would not normally watch. For example, if for some reason I end up watching the Atlanta/Carolina game this Sunday (the opening day of the football season, i.e. my own personal Christmas), I normally would not have a vested interest. But with fantasy football, I have Alge Crumpler on Atlanta, and both Steve Smith and DeShaun Foster from Carolina, so I have a lot riding on it. Points-wise.

I have always kept fantasy football at arm's length, and that is where I'm a little scared. I have what doctor's call an "obsessive personality" which means that when I find interest in something, I tend to become completely attached to it for several weeks, often overloading. (See previous examples with blogging, Star Wars, Arrested Development, Iron & Wine, craft beer, etc.) I am the poster child for why people say there are "gateway drugs." Luckily, NyQuil is still as hardcore as I get, and that's only if I'm on vacation. Regardless, this lack of perspective and control is not something I want fantasy football to elicit from me.

And it's not that I don't want to get into it; I really do. But my problem is that I don't want to lose the forest for the proverbial trees. I am a football fan, first and foremost. I have been watching football for about twenty years, mostly following my star-crossed Bills through every wretched miserable season. But I always want to be a fan of football, not of "my players." I do not want to switch allegiances every year. Perennially, there will always be teams I will hate (Dallas, Miami, New York Giants) and teams that I kind of like (Philly, Seattle, Kansas City). And with each year, those teams, and the players on those teams, will have a firm place in my own personal universe of football.

But that's where fantasy football clouds the senses. For example, what if the Bills are playing the Dolphins, but I have the Dolphins defense on my fantasy team (this is strictly hypothetical as I would never pick the Miami Defense or any player from Miami ever). When game time comes, what do I want? Do I want my Bills to roll up yards and light up the scoreboard? Or do I take some sort of solace in the event of a defeat that at least the Bills lost, but hey, I got 6 fantasy points out of it!

Bullshit! Never! There will never be any joy in losing (especially to the goddamn Dolphins). And certainly no measly amount of points in a fantasy game should take away the sting of a loss. If I ever catch myself saying, "Well, the Bills lost, but at least the four interceptions that Losman threw are good for my fantasy D," I will repeatedly open a window and then slam it down on my own head. That's a Bill Shannon promise.

Quick story: A few years ago, I was at work, and there was this guy who worked in my department (he was canned shortly thereafter). And this guy was fat, I'm talking Orca fat. So anyway, I am walking around and I notice that this guy has a Buffalo Bills helmet on his computer. So I figure, hey this guy's alright. So I asked him, "Hey, you like Buffalo, huh?" to which he replied in the affirmative. So I said to him, "Big game this weekend huh?" I still remember, they were playing the Raiders. And this fat house of a man said, "Yeah, but I need them to lose because I have [Raiders quarterback] Rich Gannon on my fantasy team." It took all my inner strength to keep from taking his head and repeatedly slamming a window down on top of it.

Bottom line: if I ever turn against the Bills -- no matter how unrequited my love for them may be -- because of a fantasy player, please get me some help.