Friday, September 30, 2005

how advertising can warp

i love what advertising can be. i hate what advertising has become.

i love the hope that i keep that one day, commercials would be thirty second films that would be better than the shitty sitcoms they interrupt, and that would cause television to raise their standards, which would cause advertisers to sharpen their tastes and take more risks. i love how the best ads are the best art you'll see and feel.

i hate how marketers use advertising to stain your perspective on things by painting a picture that might not normally be there, treating their audiences like idiots and talking to them as such by inundating them with stupid messages. it should be fun, like this website from bbdo where you get to nominate one of their employees to go to cannes. okay, it's not selling anything per se, but it's fun.

this is a joke, but it's true how all it takes is a good editor to give you an impression that isn't warranted, to twist how you should think about things. it might take awhile, but it's worth it. i laughed my ass off at the end, but it's everything can could be wrong about advertising.

and yes, i know this has been a ridiculous diatribe for a funny harmless bit.

how free time might not be the best time

with my freelance gig winding down, i was given today off. and what a gift - it's gotta be in the 80s without a cloud in the sky.

so, after bikram yoga last night that completely wiped me out, i decided to sleep in - which is something i never do. and with the day free, i've planned for a run and to sit in the park and do some writing. in short, really enjoy the outdoors today.

so i woke up around 10:30, checked my e-mail, walked around my apartment, got myself going, put on some running shorts and my ankle braces and, as i tied my sneakers, i put on the tv. but there's nothing really on at this time.

that is, except "jerry springer".

so springer it was.

an episode called "don't hurt the midget".


you know where i'll be for the next hour.

the weather can wait.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

how sports matter, they really matter

mike piazza will be playing his last game as a new york met on sunday.

or, simply, the best new york met ever will be playing his final game in that uniform.

for the past seven years, i have had the distinct pleasure of watching the best hitting catcher in the history of baseball play for my team. he'll wind up as best slugging met ever, second on the mets all-time RBI list, second in home runs, third in total bases, ninth in games played and, most importantly, as the guy who led us to within three games of a world championship in 2000.

and that's not counting the chills that iced my spine every time when there were runners on base and the PA announcer would say, with pride, "stepping up to the plate, number thirty-one, catcher, mike piazza!" and know that the other team is shitting a brick.

yeah, i'm gonna miss those feelings.

but, as much as i'll miss them, i'll always have this: my most memorable sports moment ever.

i don't care to give a description of the emotions we all went through after 9/11. it was tough on all of us, obviously, and for us new yorkers, it was indeed the end of the world and a phoenix of a new one.

baseball took a hiatus for about a week, and when it came back, it was sorely needed.

the mets played the hated atlanta braves in the first game back, the first break we had since 9/11, the first chance we had to do something else but mourn. the mets wore NYPD and FDNY hats in honor and with the utmost respect. we all weeped during the national anthem and "god bless america" during the 7th inning - even as i watched this game in my living room, in san francisco, 3000 miles away.

but i was there. nobody can tell me otherwise..

the mets were down one run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. john smoltz was dominant. he's always dominant, but on this night, he was special. but someone was on base for the mets - i don't remember who it was, but it didn't matter once we heard it, we all heard it:

"stepping up to the plate, number thirty-one, catcher, mike piazza!"

chills. ice. fear.

but smoltz was amazing. he wasn't backing down from anything.

smoltz got ahead in the count. piazza had two strikes on him. smoltz threw a fastball that i swore - and probably everyone else - hit the black on the inside corner. smoltz started walking off the mound, a definite third strike, end of inning, but the umpire disagreed.

a new life.

again, apropro.

and then, it happened.

i'll never forget that swing, and how the ball jumped off the bat as if injected with kerosene, and i never saw it clear the fence because i was jumping up and down, up and down, up and down, and i called my dad, 3000 miles away but so close to ground zero, and piazza did it, dad, he did it, and i was crying, goddamn i was crying and laughing because it was right, it was just so right, it was everything we needed.

new york needed it and piazza delivered.

thank you, mike, for everything, truly everything.

good luck.

how to attack a level 8 kotter

i had to get a haircut. i felt like i was about to be attacked by my curly tangle.

seriously, i was squarely within level 8 kotter, and slowly but surely making my way towards level 9 kotter, which would put me under direct police supervision.

and really, wouldn't you keep a sharp eye on a dude with this on his head?

aaaaanyway, since i left work early, and it was such a nice day, i decided to stop off in cole valley at a boutique called "the mane attraction" (yes, i'm aware of the pun). i asked if they had any openings; they had.

they saw the dilemma on top of my head, and quickly sprung to action, as if there were a doubt.

you see, who else better to attack a level 8 kotter than a gay black man with curly hair?

unfortunately, he wasn't freddie "boom boom" washington. in fact, he had the style of lenny kravitz, but was the bastard child of eddy grant ("electric avenue" singer) and sheryl lee ralph ("it's a living") - but more her than him.

chop chop chop buzz chop chop.

i usually have this irrational fear that a hair stylist is able to read my thoughts as they cut my hair, that all my secret information would be released, follicle by follicle. as i began to worry about my really quick observation about my hair cutter, i suddenly began to think that maybe, just maybe, he would get mad and seek revenge (or turned on and seek a thrill). but then another stylist (a gay man with straight blond hair and candy striped pants - that was not a joke) quickly showed me a photo of jackie onassis and informed me that she is how a first lady should look like, as if i cared.

obviously, he misread my mind.

anyway, it worked. i'm now back to a very respectable level 3 kotter. i can now walk the streets without suspicion.

i thank you. the world thanks you.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

how strange occurances can be ironic

had a very strange occurance as i took the train home this evening. i made a playlist called "nostalgia" on my ipod which is filled with songs that evoke something, whether it be a photo, joke, person or a memory. as i listened to "kate" by the ben folds five ("when words fail, she speaks/her mix tape's a masterpiece"), i was sure that the next song was to be "harvest moon" by neil young. i internally swore by it. and, lo and behold, it was.

the odd thing was that there's 46 songs in the playlist, and i had it on shuffle. that's like a 2% chance of me getting it right. but i felt it in my bones. there was no doubt.


anyways, a very unassuming woman sat next to me with her own set of earphones, except they were attached to her walkman - not a radio one, but a cassette player. i haven't seen one of them in years. in fact, while thinking about it, i realized that it's two generations old. i see people with discmans on the trains, and everybody's got an ipod, but seriously, over the past four years, this is the only one of these relics i've seen.

i didn't know what to say.

which made me wonder - is her mix tape her masterpiece?

hold this kate?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

how not everything makes sense

i had a dream that my friend johnny luxury and i were a ukulele band that covered weezer songs - but only the "pinkerton" album. we split vocals. he played the bass uke while i played acoustic. we ended our set with "why bother".

i don't know why or what that means.

but i also read an article co-written by the sports guy and chuck klosterman (two of my favorite writers) and chuck mentioned "pinkerton" in the article - which is so strange, considering there's no real reason to mention it. then again, he did do it justice as the weezer album that was critically panned but is beloved by a small minority - myself included.

nobody mentions it. i thought of it. he said it. strange.

and it's not the first time that's happened recently.

so it's time for a test: i watched "zapped!" this weekend.

let's see what happens.

in other news: i was witness to a woman who ordered $27.95 worth of food and proceeded to give the cashier $40.70, but the 70 cents were all pennies.

don't get me wrong: i love insubordination like that, but not when i have to order food. couth, people. a little couth.

Monday, September 26, 2005

how the 80s never fail to entertain

there are few things that i enjoy any more than when horrifyingly simple 1980s animation series are re-edited for our enjoyment 20 years later.

like when prince adam from "he-man" sings a 4 non blondes song that sets a new bar for creepy. i mean, that's good, but it still doesn't hold a candle to any of the classic and insanely bizarre g.i. joe public service announcements, like "body massage", "ice", "carnival" and "gay".

but that's just me.

Friday, September 23, 2005

how i love my hometown for all the wrong reasons

there's a t-shirt that old navy just made that says "staten island: just pave it".

i find that funny, considering i grew up in staten island and it's a cesspool.

but here's the best part of it: here's an article in the staten island advance in which staten islanders talk about how they like the shirt because it's about the bad roads in the borough.


in case you don't want to read through all the pain, here's some quotes.

again, this is for a shirt that says "Staten Island: Just Pave It":

"The shirt has nothing to do with new construction," said Damato, a builder since 1974. "This has to do with unpaved roads, like Amboy Road, needing to be paved."

"I take it to mean the roads really need paving, and they do. They're bad from all the traffic," said Enrico Cucco.

"I like it," said Angela Cucco, as she helped her husband unload groceries outside the Dongan Hills home of their daughter, Maria Mihailos. "You look at it [the steamroller] and you say, 'It's necessary.' Things have to be done; the roads have to be paved."

seriously. can you beat that?

i just love the idea that these people thought that old navy company, in conjunction with gap inc and banana republic, surveyed the geological and transportational hazards inherent within the five boroughs, did some research analysis by consulting with various construction companies and landscaping agencies, and thought that the best way to solve staten island's asphalt problems or even to just shed light on them is to display a call to action on a t-shirt that would sell for $8.

awesome. how i love my hometown.

(of course, there are others in the article who realize the humor. of course, i'm assuming those people also leave the island every so often and have an idea of perspective. which means, they found both of them.)

how people can't help but dig bigger graves

i'm rafael palmeiro.

i went in front of a steriod fact finding panel in front of congress, pointed both my finger and mustache at them and the camera, and said, "i have never, ever, taken performance enhancing drugs", even though i was implicated in a book by jose canseco, magically transformed myself from a singles hitter into a home-run hitter the day i met him and have had rumors about my steroid use swirling around me for years.

still, i am convincing.

then, months later, i am found to be guilty of the thing i swore that i never did. and, not only that, it's for stanozolol, which is so potent a steroid that it would be impossible for me to accidentally take it.

i am a scourge. my legacy has been tarnished. i am a national joke. everything i worked for has been shat on. all those rumors about me have been confirmed. and now congress is after me for perjury.

i need to make a statement. i promised to clean the air. it's been 57 days.

i could bite the bullet and say that i made a terrible mistake, and that i could only wish that the youth of today can see what i'm going through and learn from that. i could become an ambassador of being clean by using myself as an example of what went wrong. i wouldn't save my legacy; i would be starting a new one.

or i could try to weasel out of it some more and bring everyone else down with me, like my teammate miguel tejada, by claiming that he supplied me with a "dietary supplement" that may have "triggered the steroid", even though i damn well know that he's innocent and that i injected myself.

yeah. that'll work. it's not my fault, you see. he gave it to me. point your finger at him. i'm not the only guilty one. i hope they'll buy my story.

but now it's coming out that tejada's dietary supplement, B-12, is a legal supplement and in no way can trigger stanozolol, which again, is an extremely potent steroid that cannot be accidentally injected into my system. also, that tejada has been tested three times cleanly and that even B-12 has been tested and cleared.


so not only am i a cheat and a liar, but i'm also a rat as well, and completely unwelcomed into any baseball clubhouse or hall of fame for the rest of my life.

am i a very stupid man?

no. nobody calls me stupid.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

how this could be the next big thing

there should be something - like the closed-captioned button - that you can press that eliminates the laugh track from tv shows.

humor is poking. humor is twisting. and, most importantly, humor is relative. not everyone is gonna find "the office" or "arrested development" funny (those people are also wrong), and not everyone is gonna find rob schneider to be funny either (and for good reason).

we laugh at things we can relate to, but not everybody can relate to the same things. so when everybody laughs, something is wrong. comedy is meant to offend. if it pisses someone off, it's done its job.

so there's no real point to laugh tracks, other than to cover up how unfunny their show is or, in a more revealing expose, to show us how stupid network producers think their audiences are. it's pandering and hand-holding to its most degrading form. "laugh here! that was funny! laugh here!....and here!...damn you, this is humor! laugh here!"

that's why laugh tracks make me sick.

where's that button?

how i've almost never laughed as hard

two things:

last night's season premiere of "the office" with steve carell was so incredibly uncomfortable and embarassing that i couldn't stop laughing. seriously, they deserve any accolades they get. they took a perfectly written, directed and acted british telly series and are just as good. if you're not hooked, get hooked.

and i stumbled upon this website that offers interesting commentary and insight to the players on 1980s baseball cards - otherwise known as the cheesiest photography ever shot. there's two pages of the funniest shit around. enjoy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

how not taking yourself seriously always works

i love this ad about big beer and big ads.

it's the kind of work i want to do.

damn them for doing it first.

then again, thank them for doing it.

how mistakes are never learned

i don't watch "everybody loves raymond". i've seen a couple of episodes and i got it. it's the same ol' sitcom shit that's always been on and always will, except the writing is better.

that being said, there's no reason for a spinoff. but, supposedly brad garrett's getting his own series, and his character is moving away.

what genius! what a brilliant idea! that's never been done before! awesome work, cbs! you've one-upped us once more! hooray, television!

okay, sarcasm aside, spinoffs involving a semi-retarted main character moving away has never worked.

seriously, think about it:

joey was, and that failed.

gloria stivic acted like she was, and that failed.

someone named chachi had to be, and that failed.

i'll stop here. and before anyone e-mails me, frazier worked, but that's because he obviously wasn't semi-retarted. there was something smart in that series, that character, that allowed it to have its own feet to stand on. it's called depth.

depth. wow, now that's an idea to build upon.


how the best keeps on getting better

thank god fox didn't cancel "arrested development" because last night's season premiere was one of their funniest episodes ever - and that's coming from a very long line of funniest episodes ever from one of the funniest shows ever.

if you've never, you should. it's not as standard as "everybody loves raymond" or formulaic as "friends". it's completely original, unlike anything else seen on tv with the most uncomfortable pauses ever and the most ridiculous self-absorbed characters ever created.

and while you're at it, check out "the family guy" on sunday nights on fox.

this posting was made possible by a grant from the fox broadcasting network.

how choices have to be made

i got this e-mail from my friend paal, and thought it was worth posting.

This test only has one question, but it's a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. Try not to give a rushed answer. Read the text and then give an honest answer.

There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding. This is a flood of biblical proportions.

You are a photojournalist working for a major newspaper, and you're caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.

You're trying to shoot career-making photos. There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing under the water. Nature is unleashing all of its destructive fury.

Suddenly you see a man floundering in the water. He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris. You move closer . . . somehow the man looks familiar. You suddenly realize who it is.

It's George W. Bush! At the same time you notice that the raging waters are about to pull him under.

You have two options--you can save the life of G.W. Bush or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize winning photo, documenting the death of one of the world's most powerful men.

So here's the question below, and please give an honest answer :

Would you select high contrast color film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?

makes you wonder.

Monday, September 19, 2005

how you gotta keep on going

i know this gets old, but here's another friend who's running a marathon through team in training. again, money donated goes to the fight against leukemia.

so, if you've got some extra change, help tami run and raise.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

how you never stop learning

two things i learned this weekend:

1. that peter cetera was hired by chicago because of his skillz as a bassist. he became a vocalist years later, when he claimed that "he was a man who would fight for your honor".

2. when you have sex without a condom or without birth control, it's called "pulling the goalie".

i am now a better man.

how you can't be too early

as i waited for my flight to arrive as i headed back to oakland from los angeles, i happened to be the first person on line for priority B seating for southwest airlines (they switched gates, so i wound up going from last on line to first on line. don't be impressed. it just meant i got to sit further up in the plane).

aaaanyway, the first people on line for priority A seating were three raiders fans on the way up for their game against the chiefs in oakland. they were exactly how you would imagine raiders fans would be, and they were dressed from head to toe in black and silver and tattoos.

one of them wore facepaint. i asked him how did he was able to get through security. he told me that he painted it all on in the bathroom.

so picture the scene. three raiders superfans, one with facepaint, waiting on line in LAX.

our plane arrived at the gate, and as the passengers filed off, the raiders fans, and i shit you not, started to heckle everyone who walked off. some of it was pretty offensive and crude. and i would have been plenty pissed off if i weren't laughing my ass off internally at how completely ridiculous the whole scene was.

think about it: they were five hours and three hundred miles away from kickoff, and they had their game on.

i'm not saying i condoned it, but it was awesome.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

how the airport never disappoints

people i saw at the oakland airport today, en route to los angeles:

1. the vegas guy - i rode with him on the bart shuttle from the train to the airport. during the course of his extremely loud cell phone call, i learned that he rocks vegas, he got into a $1000/hand table his last time at the mirage and that he was on his way to los angeles to pick his friend up and then it's vegas, baby, vegas. i also loved the fact that he had priority "C" seating which means that he had to wait until all the "A" and "B" travelers boarded and sat before he could get on. in fact, that one bit of information restored my faith in a higher being.

2. confused gender role couple - she wore a button down shirt, pleated black dress pants, penny loafers and a haircut reminiscent of joe pesci's in "goodfellas". he wore a black j.crew ribbed sweater, black pants, black shoes, a beige checkerboard blazer and wire-rimmed glasses. and when he successfully tossed his coffee cup into a dumpster, he pumped his hands as if he were syaing "yippee!"

3. the "is she retarted or not?" older chinese woman - she sat next to me on the plane. her granddaughter had the task of not only buckling her into her seat belt, but also to pick up her garbage for her - all tasks that anyone over six can handle. she didn't seem retarted or incapable (she did go to the bathroom by herself), and she spoke well (then again, i had no idea what she was saying) - but she didn't lift a finger the whole trip and never bothered to. my favorite part was when the granddaughter showed her what to do in case the plane crashes. not for nothing, but if someone can't buckle themself in, then, in a plane crash, they in essense become a floatational device. that's not mean. it's just treading water is much more difficult than buckling in.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

how the end was near

it seems almost trivial to post this, considering what happened in new orleans, but i had a major catastrophe in my life last night, which again seems trivial, but to me, it meant everything.

after two months of an intensive labor of love, i was a little bit of effort away from finishing a fifteen-minute film about my friends getting married that would premiere at their rehearsal dinner in a place called the old silent film theater in hollywood. my first movie on a big screen, and it's something i'm very proud of - my best work ever.

all i had to do was place in some voiceover and import some title cards. easy stuff.

that is, if i had a movie to do it for.

it was gone - rather, my external hard drive wasn't able to be mounted on my desktop. that's where i saved it. and now, i couldn't get to it. so not only was this film gone, but also every film i had ever finished, my professional reel, my professional book, photographs and tons of applications that i moved from my desktop to the external to free up some space.

gone. unable to be accessed.

my last three years. kaput.

everything i've ever worked for. vanished.

i frantically called my friend russ, who was my IT guy at my old agency. he was kind enough to invite me and my external hard drive over for him to give a valiant attempt to save it. while he fidgeted with it, i ran to my office, where i happened to download quicktimes of the wedding film onto my desktop. it would be a quick burn onto a dvd, and with non-stop work ahead of me, i could at least salvage a crappy version of the film to show on friday night.

that was my first priority: the most important day of my friend's life. the wreck of mine could come later.

a quick burn took an hour, and with each minute i thought about everything - the hard work, the weekends, the late nights, the love, the passion, the learning, the miracles, the luck, my past and my future. and i realized that it all may be lost, but it's not gone - i had copies of everything, but i'd lose the masters. and some photos saved. and i couldn't even calculate how much in missing software.

you know, just the stuff that can't be replaced.

as it burned, i called russ to check on his progress, and it's amazing how much you can tell from someone's voice as he searches for just a small glimpse of light. no matter how he spun it, i didn't buy it.

as the burn finished, i walked back to his place, and i just geared myself up for a long night of getting this film done and then weeks of trying to get everything else replaced through friends and savvy.

if i told you that i wasn't on the verge of crying, i'd be lying.

if i told you that i thought about many dark things, i'd be lying.

perhaps i shouldn't say more.

when i got to russ' front door, he and his wife quickly looked up at me, as if they know that someone i knew had died and they were the bearers of bad news.


and he had news. he found it all by rescuing the external hard drive. it just needed a new chassis. it was all there, just how i left it.

could you believe that?

if i told you that my nerves took a deep breath, i'd be lying.

if i told you i haven't stopped smiling, i'd be lying.

thank you, russ.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

how titles can say it all

y'know, like "cats in sinks" or "stuff on my cat".

for once, i'm speechless.

how there's always something

no matter how bad things get, just remember that you can always find something to make you feel a little better about yourself.

available in all sizes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

how to give thanks to someone who's been thanked enough

we all have memories for a reason. these are some of mine.

on may 25, 1994, the eve of game six against the devils, in a series down 3-2, rangers center mark messier guarantees a victory with the words "we'll win tonight".

not only do they win, but he registers a hat trick and an assist, a heavy hand in all four rangers goals.

three weeks later, he leads the rangers to their first stanley cup victory in 54 years.

you can degrade sports all you want. but they produce moments, god those moments, that real life just can't compete with - such as that night at the garden when the rangers won and lifted the cup over their heads, that last long minute, the way messier kissed the cup, the way we worshipped richter and leetch, the wails of relief and happiness from those there and those nearby, especially the loud ruckus coming from the living room in staten island by a family of four.

it's the first stanley cup my father claimed as his own in his lifetime, a gift that i could never give to him myself.

today, the man who gave all that to me, my family and countless long-suffering rangers fans retired.

i guess i should say, "thank you, mark", but that really doesn't seem like much, is it?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

how there's always a little more to be done

if anyone has any spare change around, here's yet another charity: it's a donation to my friend's team, Angels for Christine, in an effort to raise some more money to help in the fight against leukemia.

they are marching in the Light The Night Walk, which is The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's nationwide evening walk to build awareness of blood cancers and raise funds for cures. walkers carry illuminated balloons-white for survivors and red for supporters-to celebrate and commemorate lives touched by cancer.

i know i ask a lot, but there's so much to be done.


how good shines through

i posted some of this before, but my friend anthony just wrote his full transcript of his migration from new orleans back to birmingham in the wake of katrina, and i don't know what to say.

here it goes, from start to finish. if you already read part one, just skip down to the hyphens for part two. or just read it again.


Being a writer, I thought I’d write.

Saturday: It is about 6 pm and we make the decision to evacuate our homes and apartments at 2 AM the following morning. The clan consists of myself, my wife Cheryl, her parents, her sister and her three-year-old son. Our brother in-law, a parish employee, had to stay behind to work. We packed what we thought would be necessary for what we believed would be a three-day excursion. A mini vacation to Little Rock, Arkansas perhaps. The irony of letters ARK does not escape me.

We opt to drive together as a group, leaving a car, a truck and everything else behind.

Sunday: We arrive in Little Rock at about noon after eating at an IHOP just around Tallula, LA. Suddenly, we have a pool, a balcony view, someone preparing continental breakfast every morning and the luxury of all luxuries, a maid. As we begin to try to contact people, we learn that the 504 area code is worthless. We learn that there is no power, no running water and no sewer system. We are unaware of the location of grandparents, friends, co-workers, etc. The notion of unemployment and homelessness begin to set in. We also have in the back of our minds that our house in Birmingham hasn’t sold. Although, I can never understand the complexity of The Almighty, I at least have the answer to the question: God, why won’t our house sell?

The executive decision is made and we pull our house off the market.

Monday: The same all day – watching the news, calling cell phones and hearing what I have now committed to memory, “I’m sorry, due to the hurricane, all systems are busy, please try your call again.” Today, it occurs to me that without local bank phones, financial questions can’t be answered and in thinking that the gulf coast has lost millions in casino revenue, your everyday ATM has become the new slot machine. Any amount of withdrawal is three cherries.

And then there are the looters.

Watching people ransacking retail outlets is an odd thing. On the one hand you think, well they need to survive – that is the mode they are in. On the other hand, as you see people carrying things like Nike shoes, suits and jewelry out of stores you used to legally purchase such things, you think – shoot on site. To me these are the sub-humans that New Orleans is full of. “The zoo,” I angrily tell my wife, “has flooded.”

Somehow, we manage to see our apartment on the news – Look there’s my car! Oh look, there’s the water. Being a mile from Cheryl’s parents’ house, we deem that indeed the entire city of Kenner, just minutes from the airport, is underwater. The biblical story of JOB quickly comes to mind. If you have never read it – do so. The malls, the Blockbusters, homes, cars, everything is submerged to some degree. Knowing this only helps slightly. I say this because once you come to grips with total loss, you truly can only look forward.

There is no yesterday.

Tuesday: More of the same. Clothes are getting worn. We go to the local Chuck E. Cheese to blow off some tension. We had a lot of fun, one of us had too much fun, and for those that know me well, that person was not my three-year-old nephew, Cian (Key-an). You can lose everything but your sense of humor, I suppose. More calls are made to re-establish ourselves in Birmingham. The idea now is to harbor who we have in tow and hunker down for the month they are saying we will have to wait to return. To what, however, we have no idea.

Wednesday: Cheryl’s mom’s birthday. 61. The only thing I can think about is that for her birthday she has been given one more day. As of today, none of us know much about our jobs, homes and family members. Although we do get word that grandparents are alive. Thank God. We are also getting calls from friends offering help. Our love goes out to them. Ah, something else we have not lost.


The images on tv show the worst in people, but I can now tell you that times like these also bring out the absolute very best. The emails and phone calls come pouring in with offers of help.

We meet a man in the hotel lobby. I see he has a blind cane ticking around on the ground. He approaches us jokingly saying he can see shapes and edges and to not be alarmed. He sits down and asks us our story and tells us that he is from just around Kilgore, TX and that he has driven (ok, maybe he rode) all the way to Little Rock to meet with a friend of his from Louisiana to sit and listen and pray with him. Just to be with him. This man had lost his sight and was there simply to give his ears. My 5’ 5” frame seems even lower, now.

We get calls from dear friends, Pshone (Shawn) and Michael Grace and Jim Temple in Jackson, MS. This is a town that lost power and has gas lines for miles and they had the blessed nature to consider that we would have to pass through Jackson on our way home and asked if there was anything they could give us. We also got a call from our friends, Jaime and Winston Baccus, who live in Memphis and realize that Little Rock, AR is just close enough to meet halfway. They too say they want to help in any way they can. I humbly suggest, “the essentials.” As he pulls out the TV set from his car my mouth hits the floor. “You gotta watch college football,” he says. He had a point. Him and his wife also had piles of sheets, pots, pans, soap, towels, glasses, paper goods, cups, and gift cards to Wal-mart. Guess we’ll get some essentials. I think a new pair of socks would be nice. Cheryl and I couldn’t believe it. We were now in utter shock, as this tremendous act of kindness came on the heels of two people in Wendy’s buying us dinner upon hearing that we were from New Orleans. Awesome. Some of Cheryl’s old co-workers learn that we are returning with family in tow and call with offerings of essentials, you know, like a washer and dryer. We don’t even know what to say.

Sean, our brother in-law calls! He is alive and well. He has to continue working to get any machinery back in order. Without a ‘Hello’, the first thing he says is, “If you can make it to your house in Birmingham, don’t come back. Cause there ain’t Sh–… If you’ve met him, you’d know this is followed with a chuckle at his self-proclaimed authority on all things messed up. He’s a mechanic, and a good one too, because with his no holds barred bluntness, he even repaired my stressed nerves all the way from Louisiana with his cell phone barely audible.

Thursday: 8 AM. We’re leaving the hotel, our home away from home away from home to head toward Monroe to get to a bank. We needed to transfer funds and prepare for the realization that we would soon be setting up an account in Alabama. Along the way we get a call from our real estate agent Sherry Conde who tells us she had taken the liberty of contacting a corporate housing furnishing company to try to set all of us up with beds. Oh and in her spare time, also to make some homemade soup to eat when we get there. Wow. I was speechless. But I soon learn that the words would come even harder later. After a while, I get another call from her saying it didn’t work out. “No problem, thanks for the thought,” I say. Instead she says, and this is where I almost run off the road crying, “I emailed a friend of mine about your situation and she has found someone who is going to give you all his furniture used for a lake house.” “What?!” I said. “”Who?” “Well, the company that is getting involved is Lewis Communications. Do you know them?” This is the agency I moved to Birmingham to work for back in 2002 and left in 2004. Spencer Till made the call and has a U-haul set up to make a couple of stops to get his and Beth Bailey’s loaner furniture. I can’t believe my ears. I can’t even tell my wife without my voice cracking. I drove the rest of the way in silent prayer, just amazed.

When we arrive at the house, there are people at the top of our driveway. They are neighbors who heard we were coming back and decided to set up air mattresses for everyone with sheets and pillows. Cheryl’s mom and sister are now streaming tears. We go in to the house to find toys for Cian (very important to occupy the child) and some toiletries.

After we unload the cars and stare at all the stuff we have been absolutely blessed to receive, the doorbell rings. It is another neighbor with a warm apple pie and some more household items. “Figured you might be hungry.” Can you believe these people? Before leaving he prays with the family. A final neighbor stops by and offers help should we need it. Other offers came in via phone as we settled in.

Then, it all hits me. Today is exactly 6 months to the day that I started working in New Orleans. Cheryl and I turned down a 6-month contract deal there, opting for me to be full-time. I would have been walking back into the house either way. Wow, are we not in control or what?

When all is said and done, this tragedy will be of Biblical proportions. Knowing that it is written in the Good Book that the measure you deal out will be dealt back to you, yes, indeed it will be Biblical.

The first things we will humbly buy with those Wal-mart gift cards are thank you cards.

Man, I’m going miss that maid.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and concerns.
If any one reading this is ever in need let us know, we will be storing stuff to pass on.

We love you all.

Friday, September 09, 2005

how mistaken identity is fun

there's a guy out there whom i never met whose e-mail address is extremely close to mine, and either he gives my address out to people he doesn't want to talk to again or to people who don't know how to spell. he's some sort of international yachting playboy, and it blows my mind how many different women from different parts of the world he has "touched" (i found out his game years ago when i replied back to an e-mail, and she told me everything she knew).

anyway, here's a piece of the latest e-mail i got from a complete stranger about a complete stranger.

Remember us the English girls who saved your arse, (literally) in bangkok from a lady boy!!! Had a good laugh those nights we spent together, one in particular which we won't be forgetting in a hurry!


yep, it's a life more interesting than mine.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

how walgreens might be a little behind the times

overheard by me while buying gum:

CASHIER #1: so this internet thing is really taking off?
CASHIER #2: s'pose so.
CASHIER #1: and people can really get online from home, huh?

i don't know what to say.

how you can't trust the 'stache

as i took muni into work this morning, i sat across from a man with a rollie fingers "curly-q" mustache.

he wore suspenders, much like you would assume one with that mustache would.

he was burly, again meeting expectations.

picture him in your head.

yep, that's him - exactly.

except that he was reading a romance novel with a barechested fabio on the front cover.


i expected someone with that 'stache to be reading a book about civil war machinery. or maybe one about the best barroom brawlers of all time. or maybe one about home construction. i expected something manly.

but, then again, why? it is a "curly-q", after all, the most femininine of staches. maybe i believed only a man full of bravado can be brave enough to adorn lip fuzz like that.

maybe it's beefsteak charlie's fault. he had that 'stache, and he made steaks, and steaks are manly.

ugh. my world has been shaken.

how there are no friendly skies

i suppose i always realized this, but i finally put it together last night on my flight back from boston:

when i fly, i get gaseous.

really, really gaseous.

and if you don't believe me, ask the person in 35F.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

how everything deserves questions

some quick thoughts from the weekend:

frusion is fruit + fusion. when i think of something being fused together, i think of a welding mask and sparks. plus, since two things need to be fused together, and one of them is fruit, then i ask you, "praytell, what is the other?" that's too many doubts for me. i ain't drinking that thing.

at the a's-yankees game tonight, my roommate and i watched as a man went up to the condiment bar and proceeded to refill his ketchup bottle that he brought with him. of course, this brought about a two inning discussion, where we decided that the act in itself wasn't just cheap, but also psychotic. i mean, he saved 75 cents by doing that. the best part is the conversation he had before he went to the park - "honey, i'm going to the game tonight." "have a nice time, dear. hey, while you're there, can you fill up this ketchup bottle with some of that free stuff?" yep, this is surely a woman's idea. call me a chauvinist, but a man would never do that or even think of doing that under his own volition.

i actually agree with what kanye west said within a majority, but i think his timing is completely distasteful. he has every right to his opinion, but there's a time and a place, and a telethon to help the hurricane victims isn't it. that being said, his new album "late registration" is completely amazing, a mesmerizing display of his incredible talents as a songwriter, producer and lyricist. it's completely original in every way - every single way. and that makes it not just a great rap album; it's a great album period. check it out.

and i really didn't like the season-ending episode of "entourage" at all. everything was forced, really forced in - and this is coming from a series that was so masterful at being so effable that it was so comforting just to sit back and watch everything unfold. it's funny; the four friends are very good at playing their characters - to the point where you really get the feeling that they're just playing themselves. and last night, all of their characters really went through something - and outside of kevin dillon, they crapped the bed. it was a little too much to feel sad or anxious or confused. it's still a great show, one of the top five on tv. it was just disappointing last night.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

how we need pearl jam to keep fighting the good fight

here's the price breakdown of the two tickets i bought for the a's-yankees game through ticketmaster:

2 tickets @ $10.00 apiece. upper level. good seats.

the convenience fee is $3.75 per ticket, which, judging by the word "convenience", means i'm getting charged for the priviledge of not talking to a ticket vendor. or, even more simply, i'm getting charged a total of $7.50 for the convenience of me (not anyone else, but me) typing "" in my browser.

kinda makes you want to redefine "convenience".

on top of that, there's a $6.25 fee for them to redirect me from there to another website where i can print my tickets online.

why $6.25 instead of nothing? well, i'm assuming that's the price of a toll i have to pass through while travelling on the information superhighway.

so it cost me $33.25 to get $20 worth of tickets.

ticketmaster, be gentle with my ass.

how anything is see-through

this is a quote from uconn basketball jim calhoun, talking about his two point guards who were arrested stealing laptops on campus. keep in mind that his original tone was they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

“I want to be able to have the opportunity to discipline them and to bring them back and get them on track so they can understand fully that they are responsible for their actions, etc. I feel I can do this if the university grants me that right and the court system grants me that right.

“The court system, based upon precedent, will probably give me that opportunity and now I'm going to ask — to beg — the university to grant me the opportunity to discipline them and bring them back.”

translation: since my first statements, my team has since returned to campus, and while watching them scrimmage, i realized that i desperately need my point guards to run my offense. if it were one of them gone, fine. but it's both of them. i'm stuck. i need them back. please. i'll make them run extra laps. a lot of extra laps. they can even sit out a game against, i don't know, central connecticut state. anything. but i need them back. please.

pretty please.

how there's no lack of villains

i can't believe the shit that comes out of the mouths of people who should actually think before talking.

get this amazing piece of ignorant babbling from michael brown, the director of the federal emergency management agency (fema) about the people trapped in new orleans.

"I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans...So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good," Brown said. "Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them."

what an asshole. they had no way out, jerkoff! not everyone has a sport utility vehicle like you do (and i'm assuming he does). not everyone lives in luxury or even with the basic amenities that dickheads like you take for granted.

i can't believe this shit. surely our president will tear him a new one.

oh wait, i forgot that g-dub is our leader, the same guy who responded to cindy sheehan's plea to talk to her about her dead son with "it's also important for me to go on with my life". the same guy who gave the nation's highest civilian honor to former cia director george tenet who, as the story now goes, supplied the president with false information about iraq that lead to the war we're in.

i could go on.

at least, the children in congress can agree on something obvious about the prez. from

"He heard some things he didn't want to believe at first," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana. "The president is starting to grasp the magnitude of the situation."

Four days after Katrina killed hundreds if not thousands, Republicans joined Democrats in shaking their heads.

"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?" asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican.

Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts called the government's response "an embarrassment."

great job, america. how safe do you feel now?

Friday, September 02, 2005

how he will take advantage of this

there are many terrible things about hurricane katrina, but an under-the-radar one is how bush and his administration are gonna spin this disaster into their political favor, much like how they use 9/11 as a crutch for every incompetent decision they make.

seriously, this hurricane was the best thing bush could ask for. suddenly iraq is barely mentioned or televised. at his worst possible moment, new orleans is wiped out and, for the time being, so is iraq.

and you just know the name "katrina" is gonna be the most repeated thing off his lips once the next tragedy in iraq occurs. divert! dvert! divert!

you just know it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

how there should be a coronation

my roommate jr always foolishly asks me who made bruce springsteen the boss.

don't laugh at him. he's just in the dark about all things bruce.

but, considering that shakespeare wrote about kings and those same kings are now immortalized through his works and classes, it concludes to me that the same should be done of bosses.

and i ask, how many bosses have had that happen about them?

yep, just one.

how it starts somewhere

consider this a kick start.

here's a list of charities to to help those poor people in the bayou.

red cross
feed the children
the salvation army
the united way

how pomposity can get in the way of generosity

stuff like this really gets under my skin :

serena williams announced that, with every ace she serves, she will donate $100 to the hurricane relief fund.

i think she's doing a nice thing. don't get me wrong. but why does it have to be a bet? she's got more money than god. why not just pick a nice sizeable number to donate and then double it? why does her much needed donation depend on whether her opponents can return serve? that's so completely egocentric.

seriously, just donate a chunk of money and play your damn game.

and it's not just her. we'll be hearing all about this type of stuff for katrina aid or for anything else that goes on.

in fact, there's something called "strike out cancer", in which for every strikeout thrown by a giants pitcher at home, a company named genetech will make a $200 donation. how about just making one very large friggin donation? the giants have one strikeout pitcher in their rotation, and their fireballing reliever has been hurt all year. why does cancer research have to be punished because the giants have had soft throwers like kirk reuter in their rotation? hey, as long as it gets the company's name in the paper and there's a nice logo on the right field wall, who cares?

enough with the games already. just donate.