Saturday, November 29, 2008

Here We Go ...

Well ... now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to focus on Christmas. "Thankfully," a couple of friends and family members already gave us a "head start" about a month ago ... let me explain.

Schue and I were coming back from Cape May/Atlantic City (anniversary) ... we turned onto our street, and Schue got this puzzled look on her face. "What the hell is that on our lawn," she shrieked. Because I'm the good driver that I am, I was more focused on the road than on this peculiar object that had taken up our entire front lawn.

As I parked the car, I peered to my right and noticed the "surprise." It was as if Santa Claus threw up all over our house ... what am I referring to? My brother, his wife, his wife's sister and her husband decided to put one of those big obnoxious Christmas blow-up snow globes on our property.

Now, all snow globes are obnoxious ... this one may take the cake ... it is 8 feet tall, and has some sort of candy-cane circular swing, with Santa Claus, a reindeer, a penguin, and a snow man swinging in circles (this is probably a topic for another blog post, but why was the penquin chosen over the elf? For some reason, this bothers me).

Anyway, here's a picture of this Christmas atrocity ... and by the way guys, your anniversaries are coming up ... payback will be a bitch.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

These are trophies????

CNNSI posted a story about college football's unusual trophies a few days ago, and of course, since I'm a college football fan, I had to read it. Now, before I begin my "rant," let me assure everyone, I am a big fan of tradition. Thanksgiving day football games are a staple of my life. I'm also a big fan of the day after Thanksgiving football game that I participate in.

But, there is something to be said about updating traditions ... and by looking at some of these "trophies" that these college football rivals play for, I think this cements my argument. Seriously, playing for a big jug, or an old skillet may have been pretty cool in the 1930's, but at this point, it's kind of stupid (my opinion).

Why not "update" these trophies - make them really cool ... or better yet, why not do something totally outside the box - here are just a few ideas I have:

* How about playing for the right to hang your logo on the centrally designated monument of the opposing college? Talk about bragging rights!

* Let's make it interesting - how about some sort of "financial" bet, in which maybe a computer room gets donated by the losing team to the winning college.

* How about intriguing bets by the college deans in which the winning team gets to somehow "embarrass" the opposing team's dean ... make him (her) dress like a baby, and take a picture with the opposing team, that can be displayed on the winning college team's website.

You get the idea, don't you? What are some of your suggestions?

On a side note - Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sorry ...

(Sorry, Charlie)

I'm probably going to bore some of you with this, but it's my blog ... yeah, I'm going to blog about college football ... specifically, the joke of a football program that is Notre Dame.

Long the bastion of pompousness, Notre Dame is a football program with fans across the country and the world. For years, I've had problems with this - how can you follow a college football team that you have no ties to, and is not located anywhere near where you live? Is it because of their "Irish" name? If so, you're an idiot. Is it because it's a Catholic school? If so, you do understand that there are many, many other Catholic colleges around, many of which are closer to you. Is it because of their successful past? Yeah, probably - but guess what ...

The Notre Dame "football machine" has fallen on some very tough times. Last season, they won a whopping 3 games. They lost to Navy for the first time in over 40 years (and, jokingly, did not win the "military" title for the first time in a while). People thought that the Irish would be back this year ... and for a while, they were - they started off pretty strong (albeit, they got extremely lucky against a very bad San Diego State team). Then, things went wrong again - culminating in an embarrassing loss against a Syracuse football team that is probably in the top 10 worst teams in college football this year.

(Possibly one of the greatest pictures ever taken)

Notre Dame just gave Charlie Weiss a 10-year contract extension a few years ago, and now they're scratching their heads at his inability to get his "star" players to actually play the game. NBC, who just signed Notre Dame to another contract extension, is probably swallowing very hard these days, considering Notre Dame home games are the only college football games they show ... and the only people currently tuning in our die-hard Irish fans, and people across the country who find joy in seeing "America's College Football Team" get beaten on a consistent basis. Seriously, that's really too bad.

You know, a few years ago, Notre Dame was ready to take the plunge into the Big 10 ... until their arrogant alumni "forced" their hands into staying independent. Good - I'm glad your team sucks, and I'm glad that all those "fans" around my neighborhood have already taken down the Notre Dame banners ... There was a time that Notre Dame got ranked highly because of their "reputation" and "history," but now, that lustre is no longer there ... that's what happens when you LOSE 9 STRAIGHT BOWL GAMES AGAINST TEAMS THAT ARE FAR SUPERIOR TO YOU. What a shame.

Now, if the Cowboys, Lakers and Yankees can follow suit ...

(Not quite the way you thought it would be, is it Jimmy?)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mama Kat's Homework Assignment

It's that time of the week again ... it has become one of my favorites, because Mama Kat comes up with some really neat subjects to talk about. This week is no exception - I encourage you to give it a shot! This week, I chose to write about the subect "I remember when..." I think I'm going to do a list of things I remember ... hey, it may be boring, or it may be fun ... let's have a looksie.

I remember when:
* I was in college, and stamps had just gone up in price to 19 cents ... man, I'm old ... and this may not be as fun as I thought.
* The Atari 2600 was the "cutting edge" of home gaming entertainment. I remember thinking that I had probably seen the "apex" of gaming when I got Donkey Kong for the Atari ... I swore it wouldn't get any better.
* My biggest worry was the next day's quiz or exam ... ah, life was so simple once, wasn't it?
* We didn't have cable tv. My parents were one of the last to "embrace" this. One of my best friends down the street got cable, and he told me of a tv station that showed nothing but sports ... it had the initials ESPN. I thought this may have been the greatest invention since the wheel.
* Zips sneakers were cool. The commercials "hinted" that the sneakers would make you run faster. My cousin got those sneakers ... I got some kind of cheap Buster Brown knock-offs ... and because of that, I swore I was slow.
* Walking up to the Mac Dade Mall as a youngster - I was probably around 8 - and going to the movies with my cousins or with friends ... my parents never worried about it ... now, I would never allow my kids to do this by themselves - it's just a different world now. Oh, and movies were $2.50 ... sigh.
* My Super Friends lunch box ... I thought it was the coolest thing ... until, I got into middle school, and some 8th grader made fun of me ... I was devastated ... from that point on, I brought bagged lunch to school.
* Being frightened about high school. I thought there would be drug dealers and pushers at the end of every hallway who would force me to do drugs.
* Thinking I was going to be an NHL hockey goalie, because I was really good in gym class ... playing floor hockey.
* Middle school dances, drinking orange soda at those dances, and telling diarrhea jokes with some other friends the entire time (usually because we were afraid to dance).
* Winning a K-Tel "Hot Tracks" album at the middle school dance because I was the "best dressed" kid. I had this 3-piece suit ... it was tan ... it made me look like a giant pound cake ... but I won, dammit!
* Thinking that Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" was the greatest song every made ... until I heard my first "reggae" song - Lionel Richie's "All Night Long."
* Hearing the Rolling Stones for the first time, and realizing that this is without a doubt the greatest band ever ... and to this day I still know this.
* My first concert - The Who's "Kids Are Allright" concert at Veteran's Stadium in the summer of 1989 ... which was followed a few months later by The Rolling Stones "Steel Wheels" concert ... one helluva summer!
* My first job - which lasted about 10 minutes - it was at a local restaurant, and when I saw the "chef" drop a steak on the floor, pick it back up, and grill it, I quit ... ugh!
* Stealing tic-tacs at the age of 3 ... my mom caught me, because they made loud sounds as I was walking up the steps ... she made me take them back to the supermarket and apologize ... stealing was never an issue with me again ...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Big 5-0!

The happy couple!

Tomorrow, we are celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in style ... at a dance hall in a German club in Delaware, with an oompah band, German food, German drink, and most importantly, German friends. 50 years ... that is a long time, my friends ... and, of course, it must be celebrated. I want to take a few moments to thank (praise) my parents - I've put together a list:

* Thank you so much for teaching me the important fundamentals of being a good person. You were (and still are) very influential to me - and I always think of (and live) the lessons you taught me about right and wrong - and they have served me well throughout the years. You are great role models - I couldn't have asked for any better.

* Thank you for all the work (and finances) you provided to get me through college, and to get me on my feet after college. You went above and beyond, and your love and support for me was (and still is) endless.

* The work you have helped me with (or, done on your own) to my house has been amazing - I can't thank you enough. Obviously, you didn't have to do any of it, but you never said no, and in fact, most of the time, you did the work without ever asking me. I don't know what state our house would've been in without you.

* All of the vacations you took me (us) on as a kid, all those fishing trips, trips to the Phillies or Flyers games - they were awesome and memorable to me. I know we didn't always have a lot of money, but you always made it seem like we were millionaires (not in a bad way). I can't wait to spend those special moments with my kids.

* I wish Albert could be here to celebrate along with the rest of the family. For one reason or another, he didn't consider his life important enough, even though you thought it was one of the most precious things in this entire world ... and would've done anything and everything for him ... it was never your fault that he took his own life ... it took me a long time to accept it, and to get over my anger at him ... You did everything you could for him and more. He loved you - you know that.

* Most of all, I hope you enjoy the celebration ... you have a lot of close friends and family who are excited to share this extraordinary moment with you ... we look forward to 50 more.

Thanks for everything mom and dad!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Weekly Assignment

The assignment I chose this week from Mama Kat is beginning a story with "I thought I saw ..." So, without further delay:

I thought I saw the Phillies win the World Series a few weeks ago. Being a life-long Philadelphian, and having my heart ripped out repeatedly by all of my local sports team, it's still hard to believe the Phillies actually did it. I'm still waiting to wake up from this dream.

I've had my hopes dashed over and over again in the past. In 1980, when all 4 of the Philly teams made it to the finals, only one team was able to successfully capture the championship. I remember actually being so upset that the Flyers lost to the Islanders in 1980 that I actually threw up ... yeah, I'm a diehard.

The Eagles lost to the Raiders in the Super Bowl that season, too. I thought there was no way my beloved Iggles could lose - after all, they had just disposed of the hated Cowboys a few weeks earlier, and had even beaten Oakland earlier in the year. Jaworski and company would surely not drop the ball (literally), would they? Of course, they did.

From that point on, there wasn't much to cheer for (with the exception of a Sixers championship in 1983). The few times one of our teams actually made it deep in the playoffs, they ended up playing a dynasty (Flyers - Oilers, Flyers - Red Wings, Flyers - Devils, Eagles - Patriots, Phillies - Blue Jays, Sixers - Lakers ... I could go on).

So, with that said, please, PLEASE, do NOT wake me from this one, I beg you!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Anniversary Weekend...

Wow, it's been 5 years already ... 5 years since my wife and I tied the knot ... somehow, the drugs didn't wear off yet (ba-da-bing!). We decided we would take an extra-long weekend "vacation" at the Jersey shore ... yes, it's no longer summer, and yes, we were not planning on spending much of it on the beach.

Our first destination was Cape May - a beautfiul shorespot, certainly much more elegant than places like Wildwood and Atlantic City ... the place is peppered with beautiful Victorian style homes that would make the Munsters jealous. We ended up staying at the Hotel Alcott, a quaint place not far from the Washington Street shopping area of the town ... maybe next time we'll stay at a bed and breakfast - the town is super-saturated with those, and many of my friends rave over them.

Hotel Alcott in its pink glory ...

We ended up staying two nights there, and basically, shopped, ate at restaurants, and "checked out" some of the bars. We especially liked this bread place (not sure what the name was, unfortunately) on Washington Street, at the far end of the shopping area - the atmosphere was slightly elegant, but not stuffy - and the food was fantastic - I had a cup of clam chowder that was probably in the top 5 best clam chowders I've ever had. My wife raved over her meal as well (I can't remember what it was, though).

The Upscale Peter Shields Inn ...

We also loved this place called the Peter Shields Inn - a VERY fancy restaurant, even by Cape May standards ... it's certainly a bit on the pricy side, but I figured the 5-year anniversary was more than a good enough excuse for this. The food was excellent - I highly recommend the Lobster Tail, which is also mixed with lump crab meat ... I'm usually just a steak and hot wings kind of guy, but this was truly worth the price - and yes, it is the signature dish of the restaurant. Schue raved over her seafood medley which included scallops, shrimp, and clam cooked in some sort of bacon rizzoto sauce ... hey, anything with bacon can't be bad, right?

Though the weather was overcast, and drizzly, we had a great time (with the exception of the awful performance by Penn State). We then ventured to Atlantic City, staying at Bally's. Once again, we had a great time - we had some dinner at Pickles Deli (great food at a good price, even for Atlantic City standards).

By the way, can you guess what Pickles serves instead of bread?

Just a few things that really got to me.
* All of the old people who ride around in carts ... most of them are (A) really, really fat, or (b) just too lazy, and don't really need the carts. Still, they clog up the entire casino with them.
* The different "levels" of cards offered by the Harrah's Casino chain - we are on the bottom rung with the "gold" card - which means, they tend to send us free room offers for off days of the week. We still have to pay for parking, and we have to stand in a long line, while the "elite" gamblers with silver and platinum cards, get to come and go as they please. This REALLY bothered me whilst we waited to be seated at any and every place we ate in Atlantic City. I hate these cards ... unless, someday, I receive a silver or platinum card ... then, I think I'd love these cards ... yes, it is all about me.
* People who stand in the middle of a high-traffic walking area and hold a conversation ... guys, seriously, there's plenty of room on the side to talk ... stop being so self-emersed, and think about others for once in your lives. Oh yeah, and all those people who walk out in front of you like they're in a hurry, and then stop walking with no warning ... again - think of the others around you ... sheesh!

Other than that, I had a wonderful time, and look forward to spending many more anniversaries with my cutie!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mama Kat's assignment for this week got to one of my favorite topics to blog about - my top 10 absolute worst pet peeves. So, without further pause, and in no particular order ...

10. People who don't use turn signals! I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! I know I'm smart, but I haven't developed that 6th or 7th sense in which I can read your mind and know exactly where you're going to turn ... seriously, how hard is it? Am I asking for too much?

9. Politics ... I'm so sick of both parties at this point. I get this feeling that you're both in the pockets of big corporations, and are never really looking out for the people who voted you in. Plus, you are all more concerned of the "party line" than actually doing something constructive for the country.

8. Reality television ... ENOUGH ALREADY! My wife recently informed me that she watches a show about a tanning salon ... seriously? How did this even get on the air? I almost threw up in my mouth at this realization.

7. Philadelphia FM radio - You wonder why people are listening to their IPods, Sirrius Satellite, or other technologies (my choice is the Slacker - look it up!). You spend all this money on trying to figure out what the most people will like that you pretty much end up not appealing to anybody because (a) the songs are overplayed, (b) your playlists are so small, and (c) the sound of the bands that you play all sound exactly the same. I hate you ... except for Preston and Steve.

6. The national media portraying Philadelphia fans as neandrethals (not sure if I spelled that right). Sure, there are a few fans who are moronic ... these are the same ones who were tipping over cars in Center City when the Phils won ... or those Eagles fans who dress up like its Halloween every weekend and try to pick fights with opposing team's fans. You are idiots and your devotion is so misguided. But, back to the national media - seriously, enough already with the snowballing of Santa Claus - that happened in the 1950's when the team was beyond awful ... get over it! It happens in EVERY major sports city. Why is it "devotion to your team" when it happens in New York or Chicago, but it's "those idioitic Philly fans" when it happens here?

5. Drivers who go really slow in the passing lane, combined with those drivers that don't even know they have a brake ... it's a recipe for disaster, and this is why many accidents happen. Show some respect to other drivers.

4. Restaurants that are either the name of a color I never heard of or the name of a number ... I'm pretty sure I won't like your food or your "ambiance."

3. Country music - I can't figure it out. How come so many people are listening to this now? I liked it a lot better when it was a niche sound, but now its mainstream, and it makes my ears bleed. The guitar twang ... the country music accent (not sure how else to describe it), the songs about losing your job, your woman, or your dog ... enough already!

2. NASCAR - I'll never understand it ... ever. I hate the fact that ESPN has a whole section dedicated to it during Sportscenter and even has NASCAR shows ... I hate that I have to seen these commercials during NFL football games ... the only NASCAR thing I liked was a NASCAR racing game I had for one of my gaming systems years ago ... THAT'S IT!

1. I absolutely hate this whole "politically correct" atmosphere that is drowning our society. The fact that stores are afraid to put up any decorations that say "Christmas" irks me to no end. The fact that people are afraid to say anything for fear of somebody like Al Sharpton coming out and calling them racist makes my blood boil. The pendulum has swung so far to the one side that you might get sued if you sneeze nowadays.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Political Thoughts ...

With the political season just about over (thankfully), here are some of my quick thoughts ...

* The amount of mailings I received in the past 3+ months roughly equals the weight of our moon. Seriously, I didn't read a single item ... I'm interested in knowing how many people actually did read some of these. Truthfully, it turned me off, big time ... unfortunately, both parties did it, so I couldn't "penalize" one party ... but, let me say that this is a ridiculous way to spend money ... as are most political "election strategies."

* Speaking of annoying, how about all of those recorded phone messages? Again - pissed me off ... again, both parties. Is there anybody out there who actually thinks this call was recorded exclusively for them ... or worse yet, that the call was a real call? Who came up with this idea anyway? Don't most people hate telemarketers? Isn't this a lot like that?

* I'll be very "sad" to see all of those signs up and down the highway, and on people's lawns go away. This year was worse than any I can remember. Why is that? Does anybody think that I'll be more likely to vote for one guy over another because I saw his sign on my neighbor's lawn, or in front of the 7-Eleven? A tremendous waste ... what a way to show how "pro-environment" you are ...

* Is every commercial now either a beer commercial, car commercial, or Obama/McCain commercial? These commercials portray each candidate as the devil, and if you vote for "candidate a," the United States will sink into the pits of hell. It hurts my stomach (like a bad hot dog) to even try and sit through these commercials.

Let me say that I'm happy it's coming to an end!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's Good to be a Philadelphian ... for once!!!!!

25 years ... 25 years of futility ... 25 years of futility for the four major sports franchises in Philadelphia ... all of that washed away this past week.

The Phillies lifted whatever curse that had blanketed itself on top of Billy Penn back in 1983, and, in a way, saved the city ... at least the sports fans of this city. But, in a way, I think this covers more than just sports fans in Philly ... this city NEEDED something like this ... a positive experience. We've had an ego problem for far too long ... and this does wonders for the confidence of a city that always seems to find a way to bungle something up.

When game 5 of the World Series got rained out in the 6th inning, I got this awful feeling ... this was a game we should've won, but for some reason, the gods wouldn't let it happen. In the long and illustrious history of the World Series, a game was never, ever suspended due to bad weather. If the Phillies lost that game, and ended up losing the World Series, I probably would've been convinced that this city was never going to win a championship again. Thankfully, not even mother nature could stop this march.

I was at a bar on Mac Dade Blvd to watch the final three innings of the game. Unlike most baseball games that go 9 innings, every pitch in this game counted ... every pitch in this game stressed me out ... And the best part was that I could get to sleep at a decent hour ... or so I thought. When Brad Lidge (Mr. Lights Out) threw that final pitch, he celebration spilled onto MacDade Blvd ... fans from all over the area either rushed out to the street, or drove up and down the street high fiving the fans. It seemed like everybody was there ... with the exception of that 800 pound gorilla that took the first train out of the area.

Hugging strangers ... watching streakers ... drinking beer on the side of a busy street next to a police officer ... not getting to sleep until well after midnight ... it was all worth it. Unfortunately, I never was able to make it to the parade ... which had an estimated 2 million frenzied fans in attendance ... I taped it, and I watched it, and yes, I had tears in my eyes ... but for once they weren't tears of misery. Congratulations, Phillies!