New York State of Mind

I don’t know if I can handle this.  Last night was nerve-shredding enough (fucking Catalanotto!!!), but my stomach is already turning inside out just thinking about tonight.  This weekend could either be glorious or tumultuous.  Will Monday, October 3 feel like that Friday in October 2003 after Aaron Boone’s series winner?  Was 2004 just a brief respite from our generations-long birthright of pain and suffering at the hands of the Boston Red Sox?  Are we now destined to return to that old, familiar black magic we knew and loved (?) for 86 years?   Forget about any English football clubs, or India versus Pakistan for cricket bragging rights, or even South Africa versus New Zealand rugby matches.  The world, even the baseball novices among them, cannot deny that the Red Sox versus Yankees rivalry is the most heated rivalry in sporting history. 

I’m both proud and terrified to be part of that rivalry.  I’ve had Yankees fans as friends my entire life and they always had the last laugh.  There are no more nauseating fans in all of sports than Yankees fans.  This even led me to cheer and clap loudly in a Hoboken bar when the Florida Marlins defeated New York in the 2003 World Series.  Despite the possibility of a serious New York-style beat down, I couldn’t restrain myself.  The Yankees could be playing al Qaeda and I’d probably root for bin Laden himself to drive in the winning run. 

Last year was redemption.  Last year erased all those last laughs at the hands of Yankees fans.  Never again will there be a "1918" chant.  Never again will pictures of Babe Ruth and Bill Buckner litter the Yankee Stadium stands.  Now, the shoe is on the other foot.  Now, Boston fans will arrive at Fenway Park this wekeend armed with "Choke" and "2004" signs.  I just don’t want the heroics of 2004 to be diminished by a season ending series loss to New York this weekend.  That would give all Yankees fans the excuse to call 2004 an aberration. 

I’m hedging my bets this weekend by stocking up on beer and Pepto Bismol.  For good measure, I’m also moving all knives and scissors out of my house.  If you don’t hear from me for a while after this weekend, please send someone by to check on me.  Go…[gulp]…Sox!!!

Can We Get Chewbacca to Join the Sox’ Bullpen?

I think some of us are still picking up the pieces after Captain Larby’s raucous bachelor party.  Hats off to Best Man Morgan and Business Traveller John for pulling the strings and showing us all a great time.  I’ve been receiving weekly threats from DeVasto about my lack of blog posts, so here I am.  You asked for it.

What’s the point of a soft top on a car?  Are soft top owners really just people who wanted a convertible, but couldn’t pull the trigger?  I can see the point of a T-top, which is also sort of a wanna-be convertible.  Those were pretty cool, although I guess the old Honda del Sol was the last car to rock the T-top.  Anyway, soft tops have always perplexed me.

I like supergroups.  Cream, Blind Faith, Power Station, Temple of the Dog.  Even Toto or Asia was a supergroup; I always get them mixed up.  I’ve always wanted to see a less-than-supergroup – a group consisting of the lame ends of duos.  So far, I have Art Garfunkel (the weak link of Simon & Garfunkel), John Oates (the hairy munchkin from Hall & Oates), and Andrew Ridgely (the boyhood friend whom George Michael took along for the ride with Wham!).  Maybe you could fill out the rhythm section with the original musicians from groups that went on to make it big.  Pete Best (original Beatles drummer) is still around.  Or you could go younger and take Dave Krusen, the original drummer for Pearl Jam).  Can’t think of any nearly-famous bassists, but if you can, shoot me a comment.

The roommate search still continues.  I’ve shown the place to a couple of people and a couple more are scheduled to take a look.  I just want to get this over with soon.  While I’m not procrastinating, I will say that it has been glorious having just one or zero roommates for the last 2+ months.  The place is still just as clean as it has always been.  I haven’t slacked on that front, but I have taken the liberty of making the first floor clothing optional.  Having to share that space again is going to be tough.

Some of you out there have asked for an update on Swedish Girl.  While some of you (hello, Bubba) might find this self-serving and dull, I’m happy to report that Swedish Girl and I are still going strong and getting stronger by the day.  Tuesday marked four months together and we’ll be celebrating that mark the proper way – with drinks.  If you’d like to hear from Swedish Girl herself right here on The Diatribe, post a comment.  Maybe she’ll decide to dip her toe into the water if enough people ask her to jump right in.

I finally saw Napoleon Dynamite last week.  I remember LTJ and Miss Possible raving about this movie, urging everyone within earshot to run (don’t walk) to go see it.  Swedish Girl and I actually rented it a few weeks ago and had to turn it off after about 10 minutes.  It was that bad.  With Swedish Girl being a horror movie fan, I think the only thing that could have saved this movie would be if Pedro hung Summer from a tree and killed her, rather than using a pinata of her.  The Monday after Larby’s bachelor party, I had the day off and ND came on HBO.  I must have still been under the influence because I gave it another shot, just waiting…waiting…waiting for something, anything to happen.  Nope.  Nada.  Zip. 

Alright, I’m back on the horse.  It wasn’t pretty, but there you go.  Thanks for the push, DeVasto.  Now if the Sox lose again tonight, don’t expect to hear from me for another two weeks.  How’s that for keeping the faith!

When Privates Are Made Public

As you know, I work with a menagerie full of colorful and highly annoying (a point that cannot be underestimated in any way) characters.  Well, one of them has earned the name Big Pappy.  No, I didn’t misspell Papi.  No, no, no, this isn’t a David Ortiz fan.  This is a thirty-something year-old woman who has no problem loudly discussing her pap smear on the phone for the entire floor to hear.

Hey, I’m no prude.  Really, I’m not.  But I could totally do without a month’s worth of phone calls to and from Big Pappy’s insurance company, gynecologist’s office, mother, and boyfriend regarding an invasive procedure to her vagina.  The dumb shit can’t even pronounce it.  She’s an editor/proofreader and can’t even pronounce or succinctly describe what her own OB/GYN did to her.  For weeks, Hardytrain and I were stumped because Big Pappy would describe it as "a pap smear but more in depth…it’s called a cuh-cuh-cuh-loss-cah-pee."  We thought she had a colonoscopy and didn’t even know it.  But why would a thirty-something year-old woman have a colonoscopy?

Whatever it was, the OB/GYN decided to code it as a surgery, prompting Blue Cross/Blue Shield to refuse to pay.  My ears have been bleeding ever since.  Would I be complaining if Maria Sharapova were over there talking about her gynecological visit?  Probably not.  But now, one of my co-workers has asked our boss to talk to Big Pappy and ask her to keep her privates private. 

You might think this sort of thing is rare, but you’d be wrong.  Just par for the course at Company X.  Where else could an employee brazenly invite her elderly father to come use the color copier?  Not once, but several times a year.  And I thought I was bad for taking binder clips and ball point pens home.

Calgon, take me away!

Happy Socks

It’s Fashion Week in New York, so this is a fitting time to discuss my favorite socks.  They make me happy whenever I wear them.  Dare I call them my magic socks?  I’m wearing them right now, and I feel invincible.  I’ve owned these socks for about 20 years and I can still remember the day I picked them out with my mom at Silverstein’s of New Bedford.

They are designed along the lines of the Red Sox cool, old, multi-colored, striped stirrups, before the new owners took over and ditched them in favor of the bland red-only stirrups.  These bad boys, made by Ocean Pacific, are white, but just above the heel, there’s an aqua seafoam stripe (adorned with the familiar OP), then a teal stripe, then a canary yellow stripe, and the top is finished off by another teal stripe.  Despite their advanced age and high frequency of wear during the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, these socks are in phenomenal shape.  There is ever-so-slight thinning of the heels and the elastic ring is pretty loose.  Aside from that, you would think I bought these socks last year. 

I only wear them about two or three times per year and this is the first time I’ve worn them this summer, I believe.  It’s only been in recent years that I’ve consciously taken special care of these socks.  Even during college (which began 10 years ago next week; fitting that Captain Larby, Matty Ballgame, DJ Cornbread, and I will be together, by the way), I wore these socks regularly.  How they survived the primitive washers and dryers, not to mention the poachers, of Northeastern’s dorms, I’ll never know. 

These socks are a link to my past.  A timeline, like the rings on a tree trunk.  It feels good just to put them on.  Life is okay, at least for a day, as long as I have my happy socks.

The nerve!

I can’t think of anything more inconsiderate. Here in Journal Square, where my office is located, there’s a Western Union (among other knick-knack shops and fast food establishments). Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve walked by at 9am, and the door has been closed, and the lights off with a sign on the door that says
Mon – Friday: 8am – 6pm
Sat: 10am – 6pm
Sun: 12pm – 4pm

This means that it’s an hour late in opening. I can’t think of a more important place to require being open than a western union — “The fastest way to send money.” Today, it struck me as particularly depressing, as I noticed a man peering into the windows, seemlingly very frustrated. Imagine, you need money for x, y, or z reason and your family member wires you $500 and you can’t get it because someone at the Western Union decided not to show up for their shift (or is an hour late in arriving to work). How inconsiderate!

I think of the time(s) when I was in France and was in desperate need for some extra money for whatever reason, and my mother was so kind as to make a deposit into my account. This would take a few hours for it to get there, but, imagine if she was unable to make the deposit because the bank was closed before she went to work because someone overslept? Or if one of my other Franco-American friends needed some money, fast, so that they could get a deposit down on their ACOBHA? Or if an airline happened to lose one of these Franco-American’s luggage, and the person needed some fast cash from the family to be able to afford a short-term clothing/toiletry solution — and the Western Union was closed for an unexplicable reason. Uncalled for.

Once, while working at Best Cellars, my manager (who would open and unlock the store) was 45 minutes late. Granted, this is for a wine shop and who is DESPERATELY looking to buy wine at 9am. Things happen, I agree. I’ve overslept, my girlfriend has overslept, it happens. But when you are the only person scheduled to work the opening shift of a Western Union — you’d better show up.

Whew. Glad to have that out of my system.

When This Boy Meets World…

Happy 25th birthday to the incomparable Ben Savage.  He’s given me (and dare I say Captain Larby) countless hours of entertainment (from the ABC smash hit Boy Meets World), so I’d like to show my appreciation.  Also, a serious tip of the cap to Matty Ballgame, Dr. Doop, and the rest of 480 for turning me onto BMW on that fateful autumn Friday night back in 1996.  Here are a few select entries about Ben, courtesy of www.jumptheshark.com

  • When Cory hit puberty and turned into a dweeb.  He was not that bad of an actor when he was young, but it seems that the older he gets, the stupider he becomes.
  • When the kid dating the good looking girl hits puberty, its unrealistic after that, no way can he get this girl.
  • This whole show is totally disgusting. Ben Savage’s brillo head inspires nausea, and his acting talent equals that of a mildly retarded toddler. The plots are infantile, the one-liners fall flat and the cast all just look embarassed.
  • They went to college. When did Cory start sounding like an old Yiddish guy?
  • I think that once Topanga and Cory were engaged, the show should have ended. I used to watch this show constantly, I had seen every episode. But then, it got old unfunny, and Cory started acting gay. That got annoying. It shouldn’t have stayed on as long as it did!
  • This show has taught me so much about life. It was like a modern Wonder Years (coincidence that the main character is Fred Savage’s brother?) It was so insightful and left tears in my eyes after every episode. It never jumped the shark and I don’t have a bad word to say about it. I will sorely miss it.
  • …Corey, yea, he is a loser, but he was still cool…

That about sums up the man, the myth, the legend that is Ben Savage.  Happy birthday, bud.

Ramble On

Hello again.  Sorry about the extended absence.  I sank into a brief period of non-creativity, which I made worse by my desire to only return to blogging if I had a great entry.  Then I finally said ‘screw that’ and here I am giving you the random ponderables that have emmanated from my head in these past two weeks.  Ramble on…

Happy 39th birthday to Ben Folds!

I hate starting off telling a story that I think is amusing, only to realize (often due to the glazed expressions of those I’m trying to entertain) that the story is a dud.  I think there are three options in this case: (1) soldier on, telling the story as it is and if the audience didn’t care for it, then so be it; (2) embellish the story, trying to get a cheap laugh; or (3) toss in the obligatory "you had to be there" at the conclusion of your failed tale.

Since last year when the Red Sox picked up Lenny Di Nardo, I’ve had great personal satisfaction imagining that his full name is Leonardo.  Leonardo Di Nardo.  I don’t even want to know if it’s just Leonard.  I will die happy just living in my own world in which a man named Leonardo Di Nardo pitches for the Sox.

Speaking of Major League names…is there any gayer sounding name than the unfortunately labeled Terry Tiffee of the Minnesota Twins?  That’s rough.

Hats off to the person who switched all the EXIT signs from red lighting to green lighting.  It only makes sense – red means stop and green means go.  If you want people to flee via a certain door in the case of an emergency, why mark it with bright red lights?  Green is so much more inviting, friendly, and proper.

Captain Larby’s bachelor party begins in just 4 days.  The enormity of this is just beginning to sink in. 

I have the RSVP for Captain and Angela’s wedding sitting right here on my desk.  The enormity of this has in no way begun to sink in yet.  By the way, am I supposed to write something inside this RSVP card?  I thought about writing "Can’t wait!" but decided against it.  I’ll just send it in blank.   

Where would I be without email and the ability to email the co-workers I like to bitch about the co-workers I don’t like or the ones who annoy me?  Some of the nicknames we’ve come up with to secretly diss these annoyances are:  Mommy Dearest, aka Dorito, aka Dorkeen; Big Pappy, aka Grabby McFree, aka Sticky Fingaz, aka Sunshine Band; Silverchair, aka Eric Williams; Cloudwalker; Roundy; The Scalpel; Tequila; Master Debator; Lovah; and For Me.  Yes, I’m going to Hell in a handbasket.

It’s comforting to know that the NFL will always provide us with a horsefaced jackass star quarterback.  I’m too young to know who pre-dated John Elway, but he ruled the roost for the 1980s and 1990s, and now we are blessed with Peyton Manning.  Oats anyone?

My friend Lisa had a Hawaiian-themed party during Labor Day weekend.  My dad showed up in a fierce Hawaiian shirt that my mom (of course) helped him pick out.  My dad was clearly not comfortable in this shirt, so whenever he went over to say hello to someone, he’d say, "Isn’t this gay?!?  I feel so gay!" 

I woke up yesterday morning with a major headache.  This eventually progressed to nausea, shaking, slight dizziness, and I’ll spare the rest.   I wondered if I had been bitten by a mosquito and infected with either Eastern Equine Encepholitis (EEE) or West Nile Virus.  After I was feeling better later in the day, I shared my earlier fears with Swedish Girl.  She said that EEE kills you in eight days.  I did the quick math and said, "okay, that will allow me to enjoy [Captain Larby’s] bachelor party this weekend and then I can die happy."  This sentiment was not fully appreciated by Swedish Girl, but it should underscore for y’all just how much I’m looking forward to this.  Captain’s all growns up.

Staples are just so hard to find

Living in Somerville, Massachusetts I took two amazing establishments very much for granted — and didn’t actually realize it until I moved to New Jersey. I had an inkling of the first, and a warning of the second — but I didn’t really pay much attention. The first is the much loved Anna’s Taqueria, that I ended up writing about much earlier this year. The second is Diva.

Living in Porter Square, I was less than one block away from Anna’s which provided a nutrititious meal on so many evenings for $5.25 (with a Strawberry-Banana Jumex Juice). For just about a year, Wednesday’s nights were nicknamed “Anna’s Nights.” Many of my co-workers knew of my weekly obsession and would bid me farewell with the words “Have fun with Anna tonight.. I hope she was just as good as last week!” And I knew I could count on Anna. She always was just as good as she was the last time I was there. It made for a great place to go, grab a quick, cheap and [relatively] healthy dinner. It often proved much more cost-effective to grab Anna’s for dinner than to go to Star (which was just as close), purchase some fixin’s and make up a meal at home.

I miss the way they rushed you through the line, yelling “NEXT!” while there were already 3 people waiitng for their burrito’s or quesadilla’s to be made, causing quite a commotion around the steaming machine. I miss the way they would haphazardly slop your beans and rice onto the tortilla, throwing ingredients to and fro as they concocted your meal before right before your very eyes.

Since I’ve moved here to Hoboken, I’ve yet to find a suitable substitute. Neither for a good, inexpensive, casual meal nor a great burrito. As I mentioned previously Anna’s definitely was the best burrito place in Boston. My only choice here is Mr. Wraps (A favorite of the Captain and his beauty), and Qdoba. We’re all very well familiar with my thoughts on Qdoba, and Mr. Wraps is no Anna’s — let me tell you. So, unfortunately, for now we’re burrito free in Hoboken.

The second, and probably nearly as depressing loss, is that of Diva. Diva was an Indian Bistro located in Davis Square. Just about a 10 minute walk from my house, but always provided a great meal. Diva isn’t overly expensive (usually dinner was usually about $30 for Miss Possible and I) and it had a great atmosphere. The minute you walked in the door, you fell in love with the place. The scents of Indian Curries and spices were so thick in the air, that you hated to leave the place because regular air just didn’t make you feel the same.

Miss Possible became obsessed with Diva, and we’d always get the exact same thing. She’d order the Shahi Navratan Korma, while I’d order the Lamb or Beef Vindaloo (the chicken was soaked in Yogurt, so that was out), and we’d get a side of Peshwary Naan. It was just too good to stray from our favorites, because I tried once — and I regretted it for days.

I can remember nights where we’d not feel like going out, and MP would say to me in that quasi-desperate, weak, hungary voice “I need Diva.” Whereupon I would order takeout and go pick it up for us to come back home, and make a nice spread on my bedroom floor and indulge ourselves with the Indian Delicacies from the comfort of my Somerville Abode.

Once we took my father and sister to eat there, and my father was amazed. “The Best Indian Restaurant I’ve ever eatan at” he told me. And he often compares other restaurants to Diva, when we speak of Indian. I didn’t pay any attention, as I figured how many good Indian restaurants can they possibly have in the tiny New Jersey town that he resides.

But, alas, as we’re coming to find — it might be true. Diva may be a one-of-a-kind. Not that Hoboken has the best restaurants, but we’ve been to two different Indian places — both of which were extremely disappointing. There’s a third that we still need to try, before we’ve exhausted the possibilities. But tonight we ventured into Little India in New York, to try to get something more on the same level as Diva.

I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was closer. Dinner was much better, and they did have Peshwary Naan (which is a huge plus), but it just didn’t taste nearly as good. Better, in that we weren’t totally disappointed, but it just wasn’t the same. .

Maybe we’ll never find a suitable replacement for these two places, or who knows — maybe we’ll find two new staples that we just can’t live without.

Punkin Ale

Been kinda quiet around these parts lately, so I thought I’d spice it up with some fall goodies (seeing that it’s labor day and all).

After a day of relaxing, miss possible and I decided to head into the city to go out for dinner and catch a movie. Our destination was Union Square — an area that we’d been to on previous visits to New York, but not since our relocation to the lovely state of NJ. Our choice of restaurants for dinner, was a place that Miss Possible had seen from the bus several times called “Heartland Brewery.” She’d seen the Midtown location, but we figured we’d check out one of their other locations in Manhattan.

This brings me to my topic.. Pumpkin Ale. There’s nothing that reminds me more of fall than this fantastic beverage. I was at the store a few weeks ago, and I got my first sighting of the season — Saranac’s version, I believe. Towards the end of August the last thing you want to admit is that the summer is coming to an end — and by purchasing Pumpkin ale before it’s time makes you guilty of doing so.

Considering that Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer, I felt it was acceptable to indulge myself and enjoy a Pumpkin ale at this fine establishment.

I feel as though I’ve become quite a connoisseur of this variety of ale. Last year (during The Red Sox’s road to the World Series) I believe my roommates and I tried every type of Pumpkin Ale available at the two stores in Somerville. Over the course of the few months, we must’ve tried 8 or 9 different kinds. It’s tough to make a good one, and I think that my favorite would have to be Blue Moon’s. Too much pumpkin spice, and it will taste out of sorts. Too little, and it’s Bud Light. Blue Moon does it just right (or at least they have in the past). Heartland’s was fantastic. Perhaps even better than Blue Moon, as it was a tad milder, but not so much that it tasted watery.

So, I guess I have given in. I’ve accepted the inevitable, in that fall is coming – and summer is over. It is Labor Day afterall, isn’t it? Next to summer, fall is probably my second favorite seaon. Fall means football, post-season baseball, Halloween (my favorite holiday of them all), and so many other great things. It’s the winter that we all dread, and knowing that fall is here brings the throes winter that much closer to our doorsteps. But, to all those who are with me in welcoming in the next season. Raise your glasses of Pumpkin Ale, and let us all say Slainte.