Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What's on my daylight savings mind

Just a few things on my mind on this gorgeous, sunny, 60-degree Halloween in the world’s greatest city:

Parallel Parking: Have you seen the commercial for the new Lexus with automatic parallel parking? Holy crap! What a great and scary concept. But, I dunno, seems kinda like cheating. When I got my license (many, many moons ago) you had to do 2 specific things to get it beyond general good driving and that was a 3-point turn and parallel parking. If you couldn’t do both, you didn’t pass. It’s actually a bragging rite with some people, being able to squeeze your car into a spot that is no bigger then a phone booth. I know as I talk to people the more rural the area you’re from the less important parallel parking becomes. Where I live, it will always be a part of life; there just aren’t enough wide streets or enough off-street parking. I had a kid I work with say they were going to get rid of parallel parking in Boston. I laugh as I’ve heard that before. I asked, are they going to widen every street in the city to allow for head parking? Maybe tear down all the houses and businesses that are currently built basically up to the curb? So maybe Lexus is on to something. I just hope it has a safety feature that realizes when the person jaywalking across the street between the parked cars and your parallel parking ass is behind you or I smell a lot of lawsuits cooking

Crossing guards: Now before anyone jumps on me I realize this is a necessary and thankless job. Most of these people volunteer their time to make sure kids can safely across busy streets on their way to school and for this I commend them. BUT, there are certain crossing guards that jump over their responsibilities and think they are traffic cops. Not content to simply cross school kids they start crossing the elderly, able-bodied adults and just about anyone needing to cross the street. Even worse, they start directing traffic. You stop, you, go, you, slow down. It’s pretty funny actually. Traffic jammed up for miles while soccer mom’s and dad’s decide how the flow of traffic should go. As you can probably tell, I have one of these screwing up my morning commute big time.

Daylight Savings Time: I don’t understand and I probably don’t want to. I don’t get why some parts of the country set their clocks back and others don’t. Why some individual States don’t do it. All I know is it is now pitch dark by the time I leave work and whilst I have no plans to do anything that requires daylight, it’s simply depressing. I remember as kids our parents told us daylight savings time was so it would be dark for when we went trick or treating so that’s what I’m sticking with.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The decline of western civilization

I always wondered if I’d recognize what’s wrong with the word if I saw it. The other day I stared it right in the face; Abercrombie & Fitch. This company once legendary as supplier of top end outdoor gear has become a showcase for what society has become; image is everything, thin is in, and beautiful people are better then non-beautiful people. OK, it’s not as bad as I let on, but cripes, did I feel out of place.

I needed to go to A & F to pick up a gift card for someone obviously younger then me. So I set off to the Burlington (MA) Mall to get it done. At first I thought it was closed for renovations as all the display windows were covered by something resembling storm shutters. However I realized the rumbling electronica music I was hearing was not from the mall sound system but coming from A & F. So, I warily step into the open doors and the music is, frankly, deafening. I’m not being some old prude when I say this as I have attended concerts and been to clubs that would make your ears bleed. But, for a retail store, it was ridiculous. So, I proceed to find a register and sales associate to get my gift card and get the fuck out of there. Well, apparently you need to be a size 1 to work there as a woman and have wavy hair and abs as a guy. The first 2 I encountered couldn’t even look up from their convo to acknowledge my fat ass. So, I wandered aimlessly until I found a counter with someone working (another size 1 apparently). I waited 5 minutes for her to fold 2 pair of pants into a bag and cash out the young couple in front of me. I tell her I need a gift card for $100. She says “what?” over the din of the afore mentioned music. So I repeat, I need a gift card for $100. And she says “oh, sure a gift card, for how much”. I roll my eyes and say, um, $100? Now I am instructed to pick out a gift card. My choices are to hot women, a guy and girl kissing, what appeared to be 2 guys about to kiss, etc. So I pick one and hand it to her and she asks “so, how much do you want the gift card for”?

There is no moral to this story. The place simply made me feel old, fat, and out of place. So, pretty much it was reality. I guess more then anything it bothered me that it so flew in the face of the “rules of retail” yet is one of the most successful clothing retailers on the planet. You simply don’t cover your display windows, don’t play music so loud you need to repeat yourself constantly, and you don’t ignore customers and remain successful. Yet, A & F not only flourishes but also has become a pop culture icon. Maybe I’m just plain getting old and out of touch, well, actually I am and I’m not sure it bothers me

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On the road again

Notes and observations from my recent travels around this great land of ours:

  • Cars with bumper stickers, signs, or license plates that remind us they are far more important then everyone else on the road so while driving near them take more caution then you usually do (i.e. “baby on board”, motorcycles are everywhere”. “MD (doctor’s license plate))
  • In New England it’s hard to find any gas station on any stretch of well driven road that does NOT have a Dunkin Donuts inside including many that are side by side each other and less then a ¼ mile from a real full service Dunkins. For me, this is a good thing tho a little scary.
  • Climbing and/or passing lanes are a scary concept. For those (like me for the most part) who rarely travel highways outside major metropolitan areas, this means usually having to pass a slower moving car by accelerating into the lane of traffic coming to opposite way and passing on the left then getting back in your lane before a car coming the other way smashes you to oblivion. I know people living further from the city this is fairly common but still scares the crap out of my ass
  • A slow moving vehicle pulling out on a highway in front of you going 45 MPH only to then try and let you pass. Um, why didn’t you just let me go by you originally? Jackass
  • Anyone who doesn’t have exact change for a $1.00 or $.50 toll or anyone who stops to ask the toll taker directions with 8000 cars with the exact change behind them all pissed off
  • Cops who wait a ½ mile from when a road opens from 1 to 3 lanes just to get the people suffering behind someone going 35 mph for the past mile who finally have a chance to let loose and make up lost time (did I mention I have 3 speeding tickets in my life, all in NH and all on the same stretch of road? And yes, I’ve finally caught on)
  • That despite having “climate control” when I turn on the heat on a day when it’s a little chilly and there’s no happy medium between too hot and too cold
  • In the same vein, that if the sun is shining, even if its in the upper 40’s my car is still hot as hell
  • Small, sometimes uninviting looking places along the road to eat usually not only kick ass food wise on chain restaurants but typically you get a slice of local flavor you wouldn’t get elsewhere

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Schadenfreude...god bless you

Schadenfreude-The dictionary definition of this German word is satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune. We all know common examples of this. You rejoice in George W. Bush falling on his face politically rather then worrying about the thing he fell on his face about. You cheer more loudly for the Yankee’s being knocked out of the playoffs then you did for the Red Sox winning the World Series. You smile contentedly at Mel Gibson’s indiscretions rather then thinking back to the pleasure his movies have brought you. It is a very common occurrence. People are jealous by their very nature of those they perceive as doing better then them and feeling they don’t deserve it as much as you do. But schadenfreude occurs on a regular basis in all our lives more then we realize.

Let’s face it, we’ve all had a friend who had a job where they made a lot more then we did and certainly couldn’t have worked as hard as us. When you hear they got downsized you are there for them but you have that tiny little smirk in your subconscious. For me a lot of times it was, as I got older, at the gym, looking at some kid trying to lift a certain amount of weight and failing. This brought me more joy then the actuality of my own dwindling strength. Maybe it’s the person who’s always wanted to get married and pretending to be happy for their friend that is getting married only to feel a little better when things fall apart and your friend is once again just as lonely and miserable as you are.

So, what does this have to do with me? Well, I think I’m pretty atypical in my bouts of minor schadenfreude. Mine typically has to do with, what else, women. I suffer from the 2 most common guy forms

1) Duckyitis- this was made famous by Ducky in “Pretty in Pink”. It’s when you have a friend you have a crush of some sort on and your whole time you’ve known them you felt they were missing the best thing for them; you! You feign happiness for them when they are seeing someone even thought you KNOW it won’t last (coz they’re not good enough for him/her) and when they break up you’re supportive and hate seeing your friend sad but that small ray of hope that maybe this time he/she will see the light is like a fist pump inside your heart

2) You’ll never do better then me- This is more along the lines when someone you dated and still like and get along with starts seeing someone else or is trying to move on and nothing works and you’re happy that they are just as miserable as you tho on the outside you’re sympathetic and caring. Again, the prevailing thought is maybe, just maybe, he/she will come running back to me this time!

I guess I wanna know if this makes me a bad person? Am I the only one who thinks like this? Should I always be 100% happy for people and never be self-serving and selfish if only in my head? Maybe it’s not schadenfreude but it’s close cousins jealousy and envy.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Reading is Fun...damental!!

I been in more fights then I can remember, won some, lost some. I’ve competed in power lifting competition. I played football, drink beer out of a can, eat red meat, have a bad haircut and watch wrestling. Judge me how you want from the above description but you need to know me to know one of my greatest passions; reading. Yes, I love to read. I rarely go anywhere without a book, have been known to stay up until the wee morning hours to finish a book, and spend an afternoon in Barnes & Noble without getting bored. Yes people, you don’t have to be a certain type to enjoy reading, you just have to have a love for letting words and your imagination take you some place that is not your own mundane life.

I have a lot of friends that think I read too much, that say they hate reading, and say they don’t have time to read. BULLSHIT! Everyone can find time to read. My sister with 3 kids and a job finds time. My friend with 2 jobs finds time. The bottom line is you find time for TV, you can find time for reading. Or, if you’re like me, you do them both at the same time. The bottom line is reading is relaxing, reading improves your vocabulary, and reading can take you to place you’ve never been. The problem most people have is finding what they like. A book that drags for you right off the bat is probably going to be a struggle to finish, if you finish at all. So, because I like you guys, I’m going to give you some helpful hints.

1) Choose a genre you like and stick to it. Mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction, true crime. Whatever works for you. My sister has her doctorate and splits her time between suspense, non-fiction, and trashy romance novels. The bottom line is to read
2) Find something that moves along for you. If someone recommends Steven King and its like reading quicksand, dump it for something that moves faster for you. A truly riveting read will fly by
3) Choose an author that has a recurring character or cast. I truly love series and won’t read anything out of order if I can avoid it. Most popular suspense and mystery writers have recurring characters.
4) Set aside time everyday to read. A half hour before bed, while eating your lunch, at the gym, or taking a bath
5) If you liked a particular movie or TV show, find the original source book. You may like it even more. The Black Dahlia, still in theatres, is a much better read then watch

So, here are some recommendations from me. I read mostly suspense and mystery so that’s what these are:
The Alex Cross series by James Patterson- Set in Washington DC it follows the adventures of a DC detective and psychologist who is a master profiler. The movies Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider are based off these books. Patterson is a super fast read.
The Lincoln Rhyme books by Jeffrey Deaver- Set in NYC it follows the story of a forensic expert and former NYC cop who also happens to be quadriplegic. Good reading for CSI fans. The movie the Bone Collector is based on the book of the same name
The Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben- Set in New Jersey the books are a great combination of humor, sports, and hard-boiled mystery.
The Kenzie and Genarro series by Dennis Lehane- Best known for Mystic River this series by Lehane featured Boston private detectives based in and around Dorchester, Southie and the like. Gone Baby Gone is being filmed by Ben Affleck as we speak.

Just remember, reading is fundamental!!