Thursday, January 27, 2011

Showing Your Boss The Money

There's a headline in today's New York Times that reads, "Pitcher Spurns $12 Million, to Keep Self-Respect." I thought it was an article about Cliff Lee, who took less money from the Yankees to play in Philadelphia.  I thought I was going to read some story about why Lee didn't pick New York or how rude the fans are or something.

Instead, I read a story that I had to read twice to make sure I was reading a real newspaper and not The Onion.  Gil Meche, a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, has been injured a lot lately and decided he'd rather retire from baseball than keep taking money for a job he isn't doing. He was supposed to be paid $12 million this year but it was likely he'd miss a lot of starts or just pitch in relief.  So Meche said no thanks.

I'm always hearing people bitching about players who make tons of money but don't produce.  The article mentions a few players who stopped playing one year but didn't officially retire until later, thus collecting millions of dollars for doing nothing.  Or they get "paid to sit on the bench."  The Yankees are famous for paying players who don't play tons of money (I'm talking to you, Carl Pavano).  But not Gil Meche.  He's already made millions of dollars for his family.  He's already set for life.  So he did the unheard of, and classy in my opinion, thing. 

Baseball players a constantly being heckled as overpaid divas.  But every once in awhile, a player who doesn't fit that image comes along.  Thanks, Gil.  Can I call you Gil?  I hope writers and fans don't think you're a fool for what you decided to do.  Maybe teams will start working a "Meche Clause" into contracts.

Yeah.  And maybe the Mets will win the World Series.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's Not Too Late!

No Name Calling Week started a couple of days ago and I've been so wrapped up in work that I almost missed it.  Thankfully, it's a whole week and not just a day or I'd be calling myself some choice names.

I took this picture in the children's section of a Barnes and Noble in Paterson.  Grown men taking pictures in the kids section of a bookstore...I may be on a list now.

So how are you celebrating?  Did you even know about it?  I've been getting a bunch of offers on Facebook to "like" special days.  Who's making this stuff up?  Penguin Day was a few days ago.  It was "Talk Like A Grizzled Prospector" Day on the 24th.  There are tons of these moronic "holidays" on this site.  Some of them seem worthwhile.  Most of them seem goofy.  How does one go about getting a special day recognized?  Can I just make one up and have it become real just because I say it is?  Maybe I'll establish today as "What The Hell Is With All These Crazy Holidays" Day.  Actually, I'll wait until tomorrow.  It's too late in the day right now and I'd hate for people to miss out on a full day of celebrating.

Personally, I'm looking forward to the 31st.  Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today's crappy commute is brought to you by the fact that can't seem to get my head out of my ass. I drove to the crappy parking lot where I got a crappy parking spot and waited 15 minutes for the crappy bus, only to realize that I had left my wallet at home. So I drove home, got the wallet, drove back, got an even crappier spot, and waited 25 minutes for a bus.

By the way, if there's a wind chill factor to estimate how cold it feels, there should be some kind of factor for estimating how time feels. If it's 7 degrees and I'm standing on a bus platform for 25 minutes, it feels like I waited 40 minutes. Or something like that. I was never very good at math.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Suburban Angst

It's been a pretty brutal winter so far but at least they've been convenient. It would snow at night or on a weekend so I'd be able to get the shoveling/plowing done without having to worry about anything freezing up while I'm at work. The latest "storm" wasn't so cooperative. It was scheduled to start after midnight on Friday and go until around 8. So that left me with something to lose sleep over (of course, the things that make me lose sleep tend to lean towards the ridiculous). When do I shovel? Will it still be snowing? How bad will the driveway be if I shovel too early?

Is there such a think as City Angst?  What do you city dwellers angst about?  The shoveling is done by doormen.  Subways usually run.  Do food deliveries take longer?

Anyway, we're expecting another storm next week.  How much?  What time?  Will school be canceled?  Will I have to cancel any meetings or appointments?  Will I be stuck in the house all day? There goes  sleeping for awhile...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rock and Roll lives........what's on TV?

Don Kirschner died yesterday, and while I'm too young to remember the impact he had on the music world, I do remember him from my attempts at late-night TV viewing.

Saturday nights when my parents would go out were exciting for my brother and I. Swanson frozen dinners, bags of snacks, and Charles, the cool babysitter who was into KISS and knew where my dad kept his Penthouse mags. It may not sound glamorous to you but I loved me some Swanson Hungry Man Fried Chicken. My brother got the boneless chicken once and only once because Charles called it Boner Chicken. Good times. Goooooooood times.

Those nights were also awesome because it meant staying up late. And my brother and I would plan out the night of TV watching. This involved scanning through TV Guide and writing down what we were going to watch and what time those shows were on (this is all before we got our Atari 2600, which negated all TV watching). So we would always watch:

8 pm: Emergency!
9 pm: Love Boat
10 pm: Fantasy Island
11 pm: Some syndicated show I can't remember
11:30 pm: Saturday Night Live
1:00 am: The Kenny Everett Show (I think this was some kind of British variety show)

This list had a 1:30 and a 2:00 but I don't remember what they were. Not that it matters. I don't think I ever made it through SNL, usually falling asleep on the floor or something (kind of like now).

So what's the whole Don Kirschner connection to all of this? I remember seeing TV promos for the show. All I remember is that it was on very late (maybe that was my 2 am show) and I never watched it. But rest in peace, Mr. Kirschner. You had an amazing impact on the world of music. At least, that's what I hear.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Defrosting It Old School

Remember back in college, when you had the little cube fridge in your dorm room? Some of those space-saving fridges had a built-in freezer. It only had enough space for a couple of frozen dinners, but that was before the frost started to build up. That stuff would slowly surround the whole freezer like a tumor, eventually cutting into the fridge space. So come winter break, you'd defrost it.

Not a big deal. Unplug it, tip it backwards a little so the melt doesn't flood your floor. Stick a towel in there to soak up some of the resulting water. If you were lucky, you could jab a scissor into the ice wall and a huge chunk would fly off of the slowly warming surface like some titanic-sized ship hitting an iceberg. Now THAT was awesome.

Frost-free refrigerator/freezers started appearing in 1962 and these things were for people living on the cheap. Afte I graduated, I swore I'd never deal with that again, just like I swore I'd never drink another Busch 16 oz "pounder" no matter how cheap it was.

Then there came the freezer I bought a few years ago. I just needed something to store extra frozen stuff. I keep it in the garage. I don't think I spent more than $300 for it. Why so cheap? Because it wasn't frost free. It didn't occur to me that they'd still have these things around in the 21st century. I mean, I'm supposed to have a jet pack by now. If they're still making non-frost free units, what hope do I have for jetting across the skies of New Jersey?

Anyway, all this is a long way of telling you that I finally defrosted the thing. Several inches of ice, plus the freezer bag of soup that had managed to become one with the ice and the shelf it was lying on told me that it was time. That, plus the offers I was getting from local museums to do some exploring in the ice led me to shut the thing off.

I threw some towels in there. I put a pot of hot water in there. I watched the entire Bears/Seahawks game and the first half of the Jets/Pats game. Six hours later, there was very little progress. So it was time to break out the heavy artillery: the warranty-voiding flat head screwdriver, the large putty knife, and the ice scraper from my car. I started getting some of those satisfying ice slabs I used to get in college but it was mostly shaved ice. I considered getting some food coloring and selling some snow cones but it's probably too early in the season.

By 9:00, I had the whole thing dried off and ready for reloading. And I'll check on it more frequently this time around. Sure, like I checked on the baking soda thing I found in the back of the freezer which I was supposed to replace in June of 2009.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Okay, lesson learned. There are 4 entries here. Read them in reverse order. It'll make more sense that way.
Anyway, I was saying that you know the subway people are lying 'cuz you waited 15 minutes for a train. How could anything possibly be in front of you?

I also went looking for a challah which, in Manhattan, should be a cinch. Another fail. You'd think a bakery called Hot n Crusty would have one. Sadly, this location had pizzas and salad. Just like every other deli in the city.

I miss the Zaro's in Port Authority. Jeez, one mouse and they shut the place down. Snobs.

Great. First attempt at mobile blogging: FAIL!
Today's commuting delay is brought to you by the "disabled vehicle in the Lincoln Tunnel." I'm far too cynical to believe this is true. I think there are a series of excuses that Port Authority rotates through. I mean, who's gonna check? Yesterday, it was excessive volume. For you subway riders, excessive volume is the equivalent of "traffic ahead of us in the tunnel." But you on

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Return To Your Respective Corners

A lot has been said, and will probably continue to be said, about yesterday's shootings in Arizona. And though the immediate question of "who" was answered pretty quickly, the question of "why" is being loudly debated. It's not as if the answer really matters. It's human nature to look for answers in the face of senseless violence. But when Jared Laughner, the latest in a line of madmen to shock the imagination of Americans, finally lets us in on his motives, will we be satisfied?

Probably not. It only took a few hours for the various media outlets to pontificate on the reasons. The general consensus is inflammatory political rhetoric. Fingers are being pointed. Websites are being scanned for clues and within minutes of the news of the shooting, pages were being taken down. The most popular one is the infamous Sarah Palin crosshairs map. To be honest, I had never heard of this thing until yesterday. I can see why people have focused on this image but as a cause for the shooting? Seems a little far fetched. I'm no fan of Palin but I can't believe anyone could look at the crosshairs on the map and think she was calling for a violent attack. While this recent election season was certainly the nastiest in history, it's hard to imagine that anyone could take Sharron Angle's talk of "domestic enemies" in Congress as a call for revolution. When Michael Steele stated that he wanted to send Nancy Pelosi to the firing line, I doubt he was calling for her assassination. It's all election talk.

Unfortunately, this kind of language is very effective. We're in an era of sound bites and quick information and talking in extremes works very well. If you've ever seen interviews of Tea Party supporters, you know what I mean. We're inundated with baseless accusations. Exposing this at this critical time isn't such a bad idea. While each side is knocked back on its heels, it's a good opportunity to hold a mirror up and show us all what we sound like when we're trying to get our way. It's easy to blame Palin or Beck or Limbaugh for inciting hysteria but probably not very accurate. But exposing it isn't irresponsible, as Lamar Alexander claims. I think we all just need to be reminded.

We may never be able to find the answers. And as time passes, we'll spend more time pointing fingers than looking for accuracy. But let's say it's not the fault of all the poisonous, hyperbolic rhetoric. Let's just take this opportunity to tone it down a bit. When we hear ludicrous claims from our elected representatives or from the talking heads, let's be smarter than them. One of the great things about being American is our right to question our leaders instead of following them blindly. Let's be Americans again. How far back do we need to go? When was the last time politics was, at the very least, civil?

Paging Dr. Geritol

It's official. I'm old.

Most people can't pinpoint the exact day it happened but for me, it became official on January 8th. That's the day I went to see a podiatrist for the first time.

My right "great toe" (as the doctor called it) has been bugging me for a few months but it's not a constant pain so, like most men, I chose to ignore it. But it's annoying so I got some local podiatrist to take some x-rays to see what's what.


I figured I had at least another 30 years or so before I developed osteo anything. But now I have low grade osteoarthritis. It's not debilitating yet so in the meantime, I can get custom-fitted orthodics! Yay! I hope they come with a coupon for early bird dinner at the Red Lobster! I feel like I'm one (painful) step away from support hose or something.

I should probably consider myself lucky. I lasted longer than some. I have less ear hair than other people my age. I think. There are other treatments and therapies available. I just can't I remember what they are. Bad memory. I guess I really am old.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Slow News Day?

This picture is on the front page of today's New York Post. The headline, "Is This Any Way For The Leader Of The Free World To Dress?"

Seriously? This is front page news?

The question should be, "does this really belong on the front page of something calling itself a newspaper?"

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I Am Hebrew, Hear Me Kvetch

It snowed last week, which was a big deal 'cuz it'd been awhile since we've had any significant snowfall. And then it was just me and my snowblower against a couple of feet of powdery snow. And the wind. And the plows. I even started doing the neighbors' driveway since they were out of town (it turns out that they were home and were wondering why I was plowing their driveway; that's a whole different story).

After all that, I returned to get rid of all the snow that blew back onto the driveway. And the snowblower started up just fine. But the wheels decided not to turn.

Of course this has to happen right after a blizzard. It can't happen in the spring (and why would it? That's just stupid.). I try pushing it anyway but no dice. So now I have to use a shovel and do actual work! Then I have to fix the thing.

I'm not mechanical. I'm impressed when I change a dimmer switch without shorting out the whole neighborhood. But there's something about the idea of paying someone to fix something that turns me into Ralph Kramden or Fred Flintstone or any other sitcom guy who tries to fix things by himself. I had this thing fixed last year and actually got it off the ground and into the back of the minivan. No way I'm going through that again.

Fixing the snowblower would require me to read...

THE MANUAL!!!!! (cue ominous music)
I'm anal so naturally, I have the manual tucked away in a drawer in my toolbox. And I can't really make heads or tails out of the pictures but I do know that I can't do anything until I remove the screws and bolts as shown in figure 27 and 28.

While doing this, I hear something rattling around. Ah ha! Something's loose! Well I just need to get the cover off and tighten whatever needs tightening...

And then something falls to the floor.

Crap. This is supposed to be one piece. Where the hell does it go?

I give up for now. I'll get back to it this weekend.

There's no snow in the forecast, is there?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Where's My Damned Quarter?

I blame myself.

One way to make money on the streets of Manhattan is to stick your fingers in every pay phone coin return you see. Now, this is back in the days before cell phones made phone booths virtually obsolete. It's also back when saying "stick your fingers in every coin return" wasn't such a hilarious thing to say. But back in the day, you can be sure that every homeless person, and my grandfather, was searching for forgotten change in the coin returns of various pay phones in and around the New York City area. Personally, I always came up empty in my searches. It was such an easy thing to do and you barely had to stop walking when you did it.

I wish I had written this last week.

Obviously, some searcher of loose change overestimated how easy the search is. Or maybe he got angry at not finding anything in the return. Either way, this incident could have been avoided had I written this earlier. Then again, would someone who could do this to a phone booth have access to a computer? Probably not.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Blast From The Past

I tend to get pretty nostalgic from time to time, perhaps lamenting the loss of my Peter Frampton cassette a little too much. I found an old journal I kept when I was in first grade and read that from marbled cover to marbled cover (I had pizza on April 18th, 1975). And then there are the journals I kept about 10 years ago—an example of emotionally destructive nostalgia.

But it was a recent iPhone sync attempt that brought me back just a few years. It turns out that around 550 of my songs were purchased under a different iTunes account. Not only do I not remember having a different account, but it means I've
spent at least $550 on music. Holy living crap.

But I digress.

So I manage to log onto my old Hotmail account which hasn't been used in, like, forever. I wonder how long it took for the account to get shut down?

Turns out it never was! More nostalgia! Almost 40,000 unanswered e-mails.
  • There are the e-mails from Gary Hart and Howard Dean back in '05 which reminded me of how pissed I was that Bush won in '04.
  • The e-mails from Atkins in '06. I guess I was on a zero carb kick.
  • A ton of e-mails from Rolling Stone, which made me remember how I thought I'd be more relevant by getting e-mails from a magazine like Rolling Stone.
  • An e-mail from MGM on the day Basic Instinct 2 came out (3/31/06).
  • My friend Laura sent me an e-mail last summer, reminding me of the time we met at Coney Island for the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest. 2001, I think. It was the first time Kobayashi competed and the last time the average person could wander around and stand wherever they wanted (last year, over 40,000 spectators showed up).
  • Lots of offers of dream dates and stripper movies.
  • Sadly, a large number of job opportunities from and I'm afraid to look at them.

Waxing nostalgic is supposed to remind one of the good old days. I'm not so sure that's the case here. I'll have to check on some of the dream dates e-mails to be sure.