Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Life as I know it is about to change … no, my wife’s not pregnant or anything like that … it’s much worse … In a sense, a close family member of mine is about to pass away … no, not literally, but kind of. You see, my very first watering hole, the Toll House Tavern, is apparently up for sale. Sure, it’s not like I go there a lot anymore, but the Toll House is like that Penthouse magazine from the late 1980’s that you have hidden somewhere in your house … you don’t necessarily partake in “reading” it anymore, but you gain some comfort in knowing that it is there for you to fall back on … in case you get the urge to “read” about the “overgrowth of wilderness.”

The Toll House was like my “Cheers.” I knew the bartenders, knew many of the patrons, and was sort of considered a regular there. Back in the day (1994), one could purchase a 50-cent draught of Pabst Blue Ribbon, which meant if I walked in with $10, I’d probably be stumbling home with a few bucks to spare.

It was a place were many of my friends and I gathered, ordered pitchers of beer, wings, pepperoni sticks, and played some god-awful juke-box music - which is one of the constants of this bar, the music never changed – but that’s not the point (or, is it?). It was like home for many of us. I knew that if I went down there on a Friday night, I would see familiar faces, be able to talk sports, politics, sex, music, or just make fun of the guy who sat in the corner and looked like Captain Kangaroo.

As the years passed, a lot of my friends “outgrew” the Toll House, started their own families, and maybe occasionally made a guest appearance there. Heck, when I haven’t been there nearly enough since I moved. Sure, other groups of “kids” went there and hung out, but it wasn’t the same as when our big group of friends “owned” that bar.

Just for my amusement (and the amusement of some of you who experienced the Toll House), here is a random list of things I’ll miss about the bar:

1. It was only about a 5-minute walk from my parents’ house … and about a 10-minute stumble.
2. The guy with the “lobster hands” that would come in and never notice us making fun of him.
3. The guy who said the word “dude” over 100 times in less than 5 minutes (yes, we counted).
4. Playing Golden Tee in the corner, while Ray-Ray would “acquire” pretzel sticks from the bar.
5. Going back to the Toll House after playing football every year after Thanksgiving
6. One time, my friend Ray-Ray and I played Megatouch for 8-straight hours there.
7. Going to the Toll House on Christmas night with a bunch of friends and buying each other the nastiest shots we could think of.
8. Listening to Jimmy the bartender try and sing the Police classic, “Doo-Doo-Doo, Dee-Doo-Doo-Dah.”
9. Having a few “conquests” with a few of the ladies that hung out there.
10. Making the “love call from the stall” phone calls – my friends coined that one.
11. Winning two deck hockey championships with the Toll House sponsoring us.
12. Never having to worry about getting a ride home from there if I was too drunk.
13. Spending hours a night there with a variety of friends talking about life and about girls (and never getting anywhere doing it).
14. Sitting in the corner of the bar with a big group of friends, and seeing a tall object walking into the place … and eventually realizing it was a college buddy of mine from Baltimore who knew exactly where to find me.
15. Never having to worry about the place being too crowded.

Incidentally, the sales price was around $640,000 … and yes, I gave some thought to the idea of being my own Sam Malone … how cool would that be?

As an aside, I think we should all get together at the Toll House one more time, like the old days … I think she deserves that much.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Some Things Never Change ...

You know, just when I think I’ve beaten the “clumsy” illness, I do something to remind me that I still have it. This morning, I put in a new smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector. To my surprise, I did it rather flawlessly – took me maybe 10 minutes, tops. Sure, it was a small victory, but a victory nevertheless … Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last.

Just a few minutes later, I was in the bathroom (or as my mom often puts it, “in the toilet”), when I bent over to pick something up. As I came up, I smacked my skull on the cabinet above the toilet. The pain wasn’t so bad, I’ve done things like this so much in my life, that I’ve created some sort of numbness to incidents like this. A few minutes later, I sensed “moisture” in the area of my skull that was impacted by the corner of the cabinet … yup, somehow, I managed to bleed. There is good news to this - I now have a sense of what I would look like as a red-head.

But, back to the smoke detector installation – I did so well on this, that I’m decided to attempt and fix my front screen door today. As you may recall, I e-mailed “Chrome Repot” about this a few weeks ago. They did get back to me, and basically said that since I’ve had the door for over a year, there’s nothing they can do to help me … and although that really sucks (I’m not buying from those bastards ever again), it gave me an “opportunity.” So, I assessed the situation, and decided that I probably needed a new door closer (yeah, I didn’t know what it was called either until I went to Lowe’s). I installed it and … well … the door works a little better … but it’s not totally fixed … but hey, 1 ½ out of 2 ain’t so bad, right?

Other than that, the rest of the weekend was pretty cool – we hung out at Durty Nelly’s, a local watering hole, on Friday night. Saturday, we got lights for the hall-ways from Lowe’s (F-U Chrome Depot), and Saturday night, we planned to go to the new horse-track/casino near us in Chester, conveniently called Harrah’s Chester Downs … of course, we didn’t take into account that this was the first real weekend this place was open, and that about 20,000 other people had the same idea we had (they have 2700 machines). We were in traffic for about 45 minutes, before we decided against going. We ended up at a very cool New Orleans style restaurant near our house, called “Nora Lee’s.” We had some wine, some good food, and I probably ended up saving about $200 that I would’ve lost at Harrah’s (somebody upstairs was probably telling me it wasn’t a good idea to go - hint taken).

Thursday, January 25, 2007


My friend Slant, penned this beauty a little while ago – I came across it recently, and almost busted a rib … he is quite a writer. Enjoy:

BIBLIOPHILE: NOUN: 1. A lover of books. 2. A collector of books

Part 1 of the above definition aptly describes me. I love to read. I love the sight, the scent, the simple tactile thrill of holding a book; this combination creates an atmosphere that allows me to experience an almost transcendental peace-of-mind.

Therefore, with eager steps I strode toward the Free Library of Philadelphia's main branch to find a relatively quiet spot and finish my current book. Settling into a table seat (one of the library's tables that find themselves bisected by two rows of shelves) in an area rated for 80 decibel and under body noises, I achieved relative seclusion.

SMELLY: ADJECTIVE: Informal Having a noticeable, usually unpleasant or offensive odor.

As much as I love the library, the air is rather still and, at times, stifling. So, imagine my surprise when I caught a whiff of Polo or Chanel's new "Hobeaux" fragrance. Trying to decide whether to seek another seat or urinate on myself to cover the stench, I stood to pinpoint the intoxicated source of that intoxicating aroma.

Let us examine the candidates:

Candidate #1:

gender - indeterminate as the subject was baggily dressed in… bags.

age - indeterminate since the subject was asleep with his/her head inside a tattered backpack.

purpose of visit - possibly to test the relative acoustics of said backpack when snoring through nose, mouth and (of this I am most certain) ears. No reading material in sight.

Conclusion: Noisy as the person was their body odor, regretfully, did not compare.

Candidate #2:

gender - male.

age - late 50's.

purpose of visit - as with candidate #1, this subject did not seem to be at the library to read (again, no reading material in sight). Candidate #2 seemed to be running lines for a gay porno. Slouched in seat he - in a rich baritone - exhaled various moans, groans, lip-smacks, unintelligible utterances, each sound punctuated with its own violent grope of a different part of the body.

Conclusion: Such an accomplished thespian could not be the mobile shit/piss fragrance factory, so I dismissed him.

That was it. Just those two. So, after spending another few moments of life I will never have back, I realized that the smell had gently slid away, much like candidate #1's pants.

I sat back down and resumed reading. The book is an account of the rise of America's first acknowledged serial killer, Dr. H.H. Holmes. The author is a gifted storyteller and I, holding true to the first definition, was deeply engrossed.

LUNATIC: NOUN: A person regarded as strange, eccentric, or crazy enough to argue with subway seats: crackpot, crazy. Informal: crank, loon, loony. Slang: cuckoo, dingbat, batshit, kook, nut-job, screwball, weirdo, shit-assed crazy fuck-nut

You, the reader of my tale, will not then be shocked in hearing how delighted I was that my reverie was blissfully interrupted by Mr. Vomitous Pissonmyself.

I am not sure what I first noticed: the peristaltic reflex of my throat (an involuntary response as a precursor to vomiting) caused by a sudden reappearance of the stench, or by 2003's Mr. Fucking Nuttiest Nose-Picking Moron of Philadelphia's whispering "hello" to me.


I remained seated, neither moving an inch (for obvious reasons) nor breathing (for more obvious reasons). I do not understand how I, after all of these years, never appreciated how much reading for pleasure was enhanced by some poster child for abortion whispering "hello" and picking his nose. Truly, one of life's greater pleasures.

After about 3.4 more seconds of this, I decamped from the Mental Health section (seriously) and left Philly's Crazy/Noisy/God-Awful Smell Orchestra to find another seat.

I found myself in periodicals. Seemingly quieter than any other room and not too crowded it was, in fact, peopled with sober-looking individuals reading The Wall Street Journal, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, etc. Finding a seat across from a professorial middle-aged gentleman I eagerly transported myself back to 1893 Chicago.

CREEPY: ADJECTIVE: Informal 1. Of or producing a sensation of uneasiness orfear, like the freak sitting across from you staring at you and playing with a stopwatch: a creepy feeling; a creepy story. 2. Annoyingly unpleasant; repulsive: like the same freak who is now smiling at the table, the blank area of table.

Anthropologists and neuroscientists alike suspect that it is something evolution left behind - like the coccyx bone or the appendix - from a time when humans were not the apex predator. I refer to a basic, yet intangible human ability to sense danger. Or, in my case, that some other freak is now near and staring at you.

So involved in my reading, I did not notice the professorial gentleman had left only to have his seat occupied by one of nature's practical jokes.

Lifting my eyes from the book, I began to appraise the table space in front of me. A space that had, not too long ago, been stacked with a week's worth of major newspapers and now held…

a set of hands and a stopwatch.

This should be interesting.

There was a stopwatch, held by a pudgy, white, almost delicate hand. The hand was attached to an arm equally delicate in appearance. The arm disappeared into a stark-white t-shirt. The t-shirt was clad about a small-torsoed man. Atop this slight torso was one of the biggest goddamn heads I have ever seen on something that did not have a trunk and shit on clowns.

Framing one of Jupiter's moons was a mane of gray hair, hair that would be the result of Don King and Buckwheat having children who snorted Rogaine. The face 'neath the hair was blotchy, puffy and sweating, its eyes shifting between me and the stopwatch. Neither interested in seeking another seat (to find, I am sure, someone ever crazier) nor brave enough to ask what he was doing, I returned to the book.

After a few minutes of silence I assumed the King of the Freak Troll Dolls would not be bothering me (he did not smell) and I settled comfortably into a rhythm.

Using the ESP I am sure he developed inside his two-car garage head, he must have sensed my complacency and began to count. Not a normal count, no. But a series that went something like this:

"1…yes. 2…yes. 3…yes, yes. (long pause) 4…yes" and so on.

Not really wanting to, but really needing to see what was going on, I looked up…

He was shifting his eyes between his stopwatch and me.

"5…yes. 6…yes. 7…yes."

Not interested to see if it was bomb he had in his head and this was his countdown, I left.

Next time I want to do some serious reading, I will just check into the closest insane asylum because none of their inmates are there.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Stoppage Time

1. Now that Parcells has “retired” from the Dallas Cowboys, how many people are left that are still defending T.O. (besides that moron, Michael Irvin)? Who could possibly handle this guy as a head coach at this point? More importantly, who will Jerry Jones bring in to “feed” T.O.?

2. Rumor has it that G.W. is going to urge cuts in gas usage in the U.S. … if congress was still Republican, would he be “urging” this? Just wonderin’.

3. Two of my college roommates and I are planning an extended weekend in a most unusual place … Cleveland. I think we are going to take in a baseball game, visit the Rock and Roll museum … and that’s about all one can do in Cleveland, right?

4. How dare NBC run Heroes the same time as FOX runs 24. Can’t these networks get together and make sure not to run good shows at the same time (I mean seriously, there are enough bad shows on tv that this shouldn’t be a problem). Thank goodness for DVR.

5. Not to give plugs on items, but you must get a ROKU, if you do not have one yet. Basically, it is like a bridge between your computer and stereo, in which you can play all of your I-Tunes radio stations, MP3’s, and Live365 radio stations. With the state of music on terrestrial radio, this is a great alternative to satellite radio (and cheaper, as well). If interested, go to www.rokulabs.com.

6. The Flyers suck this year, and so do the Sixers … I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I can’t wait for baseball season.

7. The Oscars are happening tonight … and I have no interest … mainly because I have no interest in seeing most of the movies that win awards.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Barker's Billions???

Something’s been bothering me for quite some time, kind of boiling up inside of me like volcanic magma … o.k., maybe not that powerful, but still … The issue at hand involves one of my all-time favorite game shows – The Price is Right. And, no I’m not trying to start a grass-roots plan to get the original Barker’s Beauties back on the show (sorry, Diane).

This particular concern reaches to the very core of the show. Now, mind you, my intentions by bringing this matter up are not meant to bring this addictive show to its knees, but it’s just something I needed to get off of my chest. I think I’ve dragged this on long enough, so here it is …

Why are there commercials on The Price is Right? Isn’t the entire show made up of advertisements for products ranging from chewing gum to cars? Do we really need to cut to commercials from commercials? I’m interested in learning how much this show asks for companies to sponsor their products ON the show. It’s like they are double dipping, isn’t it?

From a marketing point of view, the person or people who created The Price is Right were far ahead of his or their time. Seriously, these guys are making ad-money hand over fist. They are so successful, they NFL seems to mimicking this show, by sticking as many ads in the program as possible (of course, that’s a topic for another blog-rant).

Now that Bob Barker is leaving, The Price is Right has a tremendous opportunity to add even more ads to the show … like, why not make the next “host” a talking sports car (kind of like K.I.T. from Knight Rider). Certainly, Ford, GM, or Chrysler would pay big bucks to involve a car of their own for this, wouldn’t they?

I’m sue the folks at The Price is Right have already considered that … I’m guessing it’s too early to have talking cars as hosts of game shows … of course, maybe I’m just not forward-thinking enough. Perhaps a talking vacuum cleaner … we could call the ladies “Hoover’s Suckers.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wok-a, Wok-a, Woka!!!!

So, for one reason or another, I’ve been really enjoying Chinese food lately … so much so that I’m interested enough in trying my hand at creating some Chinese dishes (and no, I’m not going to go “authentic” and use cats and rats). Last week, I bought a Chinese cookbook (in English, not in Chinese – I don’t know how to speak the language), and decided to try my luck at cooking some Kung Pao Chicken. After purchasing several of the ingredients at a local grocery store, I went to work.

It turned out o.k., I guess, but I know I can do better (no, using chicken instead of cats did not change the taste). I didn’t have a wok, and that, in my opinion was an issue – we used a regular pan – and from what I read, can change the flavor of Chinese food (enough with the cats, already!).

So, on Tuesday, I decided to go out and buy a wok … and what better place to purchase one, than at Walmart (strike 1). I confess, I don’t know enough about woks to make an intelligent purchasing decision, and I’m far too lazy to read up on them (any help here from you, the reader, would be appreciated). I ended up buying one for only $15 – the only one they had (strike 2).

Here’s the thing. I didn’t realize that with some woks (maybe all, again, I’m not sure), you have to boil off the protective coating, and then, you must “season” the wok. My initial thought was that I would need to cook some herbs and spices in the wok in order to season it (ignorant American), but I found out that seasoning means heating the wok up and “lathering” it in cooking oil.

It sounded easy enough, and to an extent, it was easy enough. BUT, the wok needed to be heated for 10 minutes … and then cooled, and then repeated 3 or 4 more times. About 7 minutes in, the oil was burning and smoke filled the house. My wife was not happy. She claimed the entire house smelled like a diner the rest of the night (not sure what the problem with that is).

The thing is, I now don’t want to repeat the “seasoning” 3 or 4 more times, and I fear I have bought an inferior wok. I’m thinking about going out to purchase a non-stick wok – one I don’t need to season. Again, any help here would be great (I sure do ask a lot of you guys and gals, don’t I?).

Monday, January 15, 2007

What a "Pane"

Have you ever had a disappointing experience buying something from somewhere (geez, Los, can you be more vague?)? Yeah, me too. About 3.5 years ago, we bought new doors and windows from one of those “big box” home improvement stores – I won’t give the name away, BUT it rhymes with Chrome Repot. We decided that not only were we going to purchase the doors and windows through them, but we would also go through them with regards to contracting a local handyman to install said doors and windows.

For the most part, the windows are fine – I did notice that one of the basement windows was insufficiently caulked, or at least not caulked with a lot of precision. The doors are another story altogether. I did have the “opportunity” to meet the door installer dude when he was installing the doors, and he seemed like a nice-enough guy – it looked like he took great care in framing our doors and installing them.

BUT, the doors themselves (specifically, the front door) seem to be about as enduring as Fred Taylor’s hamstrings. We’ve had nothing but problems with the door – one of the window springs broke immediately – which kind of sucks, I guess, but we didn’t do anything about it when it happened (because we are lazy and passive, I guess). However, in recent months, the door wasn’t closing properly, and now it won’t close at all, unless we really slam it shut (it looks as if one of the hinges may be bending or something).

Anyway, I’m just writing this to vent, and forewarn all of you if you are thinking about going through a big-box store to do something similar. Spend the extra money – it’ll be worth it. As an aside, I just e-mailed the company to complain – I’ll see if I get any satisfaction from them … but I’m not holding my breath.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lillian or Morticia?

I was saddened to read about the death of one of the more “inspirational” entertainers that helped walk me through my perverted adolescent years -Yvonne DeCarlo. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, the shapely actress played the part of Hermann’s wife, Lillian, on the Munsters. Sure, the show originally ran for a few years in the 1960’s, but it enjoyed tremendous success in reruns while I was growing up.

Of course, the Munsters had a competing show, titled The Adams Family, which featured another quite enticing female lead, Morticia. It got me to thinking – which of these characters was/is the more attractive (desirable) lady? I’ve been going back and forth on this one (minds out of the gutter, please). I decided to break down the qualities of each of these vixens.

She certainly had the edge in use of makeup, and shapeliness. Additionally, she seemed to be more extroverted, and opinionated (not sure if this is a desirable trait or not). Plus, she seemed to be more motherly in nature, in a strange sort of way. She obviously preferred more colors than just black, sometimes even dressing in gray.

Definitely, she was much more wafy, possibly leading the anorexic onslaught that has troubled and perplexed succeeding generations. She also preferred only the color black, and seemed to try to hide all of her features (below the neck). However, she seemed to have a very deep-lying sensual and carefree side. She obviously had a control over men that Lillian could not compete with. At the same time, she seemed a little needy. She did seem a little more feminine than Lillian as well, and I’m betting that Mrs. Munster would probably take her out rather easily in a cat fight (one that I’d pay a pretty penny to see).

I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject, as I’m sure that many of you may hold valuable information that I’m not including in this comparison. I need direction, and you, fellow readers, hold the key.

As an Aside ...
I won’t even go into the husbands (female readers, please add anything you can about Herrmann’s large hands, feet, and head vs. Gomez’s cool, calm, collectedness).

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Thank Goodness, the Show is Back

Oh, thank goodness – American Idol is back for another season, and we are now going to see and hear American Idol stories everywhere – newspapers, radio, tv, computers … UGH! To me, this show is a pile of dog-crap. I mean, hey, I understand that many of these people are talented, and have fantastic singing voices, but beyond that, I have no other respect for this show.

I know I’ve talked about this before, and I really shouldn’t care at all, because in all fairness, there are a lot more tv channels I can watch, but for some reason this gets under my skin. Basically, what is happening is that FOX is using an assembly line approach with music, and mass producing, mass marketing, and mass selling it to us. The real problem is that this formula has produced a rabid following of fans.

I mean, I guess it is better (or is it) than when ABC had a show in which they were attempting to build the next boy band. I guess I’m really miffed because all that these “idols” do is sing (and yes, I know that is a lot, and they have a lot more talent than I do) other people’s songs. I mean, I would be much more impressed and willing to watch them if they showed off their own songs that THEY created from scratch ALL BY THEMSELVES … but, I guess that’s why I’m here complaining about American Idol, and that’s why they are their making tons of money … sigh.

I guess if Beethoven was around, he’d probably complain about the rock music I’m listening to … yeah, that’s right. I’m comparing myself to Beethoven, got a problem with that?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Forget the Pepperoni...

A close friend of mine, Yon, used to work at a pizza restaurant. Whilst watching the Birds beat the Giants this evening, he told some interesting stories about his time there that I thought I’d share with you … quite frankly, because they are downright funny.

Yon had not made salads for anybody at this place … this should give you an idea of where I’m going. A lady called and asked for just lettuce, and since Yon didn’t know any better, he ended up putting an entire head of lettuce, uncut, in a box and handed it to the lady. His only defense was that he thought that instead of going to the Supermarket, she wanted to stop at the pizza parlor for said head of lettuce. Makes sense … if you’re an idiot.

In another classic Yon mess-up, he was instructed to chop some onions. Now, Yon hated doing this because it always inevitably made him cry. He was eager to find a better way to cut an onion, and his coworkers were all too eager to help. Unfortunately, for Yon, these same coworkers were pranksters. They told him that to eliminate the strong smell of the onion, one had to wrap his head with saran wrap – this would neutralize the powerful stench, and prevent him from shedding tears. Sadly, Yon believed them, and ended up wrapping his noggin with plastic wrap in order to prevent himself from crying … it actually worked, however Yon almost suffocated as a result of this effort.

You know, I really have some “interesting” friends.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Got Bruced!

Do you remember watching a movie as a child that you loved, and then years later, you watched it again and realized it was a genuine grade A piece of crap? Me too. This happened to me not too long ago. I had remembered going to the movies when I was around 8 or 9 to see “They Call Me Bruce.”

I remember coming out of the theatre thinking that this was probably the funniest movie that I was ever going to see. I was elated, yet sad, because I would never laugh as hard as I did during this “gem.” I remember going to the Mac Dade Mall with my cousins to view this “masterpiece.” For months afterwards, we couldn’t stop talking about this movie, and quoting some of the better lines, like, “I once got hit by a Toyota … oh what a feeling!”

A few months ago, whilst in Best Buy, I was perusing the discount DVD section, when, like a mythical sign from God, “They Call Me Bruce” literally fell into my hands. At $5.00, I could relive my childhood and own one of the all-time greatest flicks. I hurriedly rushed to the cash register, handing her the Lincoln, and waited eagerly for my workday to end.

On the ride home, I excitedly told my wife about this wonderful purchase, and explained to her how her life would change after watching this classic. The problem is that the movie absolutely sucked. It was so bad, that I started shaking and shivering, with thoughts of a misguided childhood full of lies running amuck in my mind. How could this be, I thought.

On a recent ride to work with my friend, Slant, I explained to him what had happened. We discussed this for nearly the entire 45-minute ride, and came up with a term for this. What had happened to me was that I “Got Bruced.” Slant and I came up with a couple of other flicks that gave us a severe Brucing – some of the more memorable ones include “Caveman,” “In God We Trust,” and “Modern Problems.” I am curious as to whether or not any of you got Bruced before, and which movies gave you a good Brucing.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Could Ya Keep the Noise Down, Please!

Just as I expected, it was much more difficult to go to work the day after New Years than it was the day after Christmas. I figured I would have plenty of time to recover whilst laying on the couch yesterday, but apparently, I could’ve used another day. My supervisor even said that my eyes were still a little puffy … great.

The funny part is (probably not really that funny, actually) that I wasn’t really that drunk by the time I went to bed on New Years morning. Sure, I was pretty toasted around midnight, thanks to some beer pong, two shots of Apfel Korn, and a shot of tequila.

But shortly after the ball dropped, a dance party broke out in the basement of my brother’s house. Apparently, I must’ve sweat all of the alcohol out of my system, because when my wife were getting ready to leave, I realized that I wasn’t slurring my words, I was walking straight, and there was only one of everybody I looked at. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but I figured that I wouldn’t be hung over two days after this party. Damn tequila!