Wednesday, December 24, 2008

GART; Destination: Leesberg, VA

Wow, life has a way of getting away from you. I can't believe how long it's been since I blogged. I'm going to try and bang out the rest of the trip in the next few days.

Day 3

So I awoke fairly early as the 10,000 cats were killing me. My eyes were swollen to the point it looked like the end of the fight in Rocky. Thankfully Melissa had prescription allergy eye drops or I would have had trouble driving. Chuck and I had breakfast at a great little joint called Millie's Diner It was a totally funky joint with a tight but delicious menu. We said our goodbyes and I headed off to Leesberg, VA

Leesberg is where my cousin Tom lives. Tom is the coolest guy and always the most popular cousin. Partly because, well, he's da man! And partly because he's the cousin we never really saw. His dad, my uncle Gerry, is the only one of my mom's family that travelled far out of MA. His job took him to Washington, DC and, really, all over the world so we rarely saw him, his wife, or kids. As we all got older, travelled more, etc we got to know Tom better and realized he was totally one of us (and one of the few people who can outlast me partying). He was an original AOL guy but has since moved on. He has a lovely wife, Sara, and daughter, Madeline, and another child on the way. I was totally looking forward to my time there

The ride from Richmond back to Leesberg took way longer then expected (traffic on a Saturday in the same spot I had hit it on Friday. I got a little lost and ended up as Dulles and had to turn around. I finally arrived around 2:00. He has a luxurious home in a complex (he says us New Englanders are hung up on that term. He calls it a "community") that was just finished a few years back and is built around 2 and a half golf courses. It's beautiful and their home is opulent without being ostentatious (OK, I just felt like using those words). We had a couple beer and headed over to see my uncle Gerry and Aunt Guyetta (gosh I know I butchered her name) about 45 minutes away. My uncle Gerry was always the picture of class. The job no one really knew much about, always impeccably dressed, never, ever seen in jeans and a t-shirt. Until I was in my 20's I can only barely remember him but as I got to know him I realized what a great man he was. Unfortunately, like many in my mom's family, life has not been kind in his later years as he suffers from crippling M.S. He is now confined to a wheelchair. His mind is sharp but his body is falling apart.

We spent a couple hours with them catching up, having lunch and even a few beers. He is a realist ("how you doing Gerry?" "shitty thanks") but in good spirits. It was worth my trip just to see him as I honestly don't know how many more times I will. Tom and I then went to check out the country club he belongs to. Needless to say, he was THE man there and seemed to know everyone. He hijacked a golf cart and we tooled around the course in the dark just after sunset. He explained the overpopulation and his general disdain for deer which we almost ran into twice. After a few more beer we went food shopping which, after about 10 beers, was an adventure in itself. We got food for dinner which he ended up grilling out until I don't even remember what time but was excellent nonetheless. We turned in relatively early as we were going to the Redskins game the next day so we needed an early start

Day 4

We woke up fairly early to get ready to meet Tom's friends to head to the game. Well, some of us were ready and some of us were moving SLOWLY (hint, not me). We had breakfast and met up with his buddies to pile into one vehicle to head to Landover, MD. After a seemingly endless ride (you can imagine how sick of cars I was by now) we got to FedEx Field for the Skins/Cardinals game. We tailgated with just the five of us at first then joined a much larger tailgate with his old neighbors. These Skins fans know how to tailgate! The game was friggin hot. Had to be 90 in the sun. It's also HUGE!!! I mean, I forget how many but close to 100,000. The Skins won but was more fun for the experience then the game. We tailgated some more after the game then headed back, I slept the whole ride back to Leesberg as I was beat and a wee bit drunk. Sara made us an awesome dinner then, seriously, I was in bed by 9:30 as I planned to hit the road early.

Notes from the road:
  • If someone gives you personalized directions, use them and forget your GPS and Triptix
  • The Beltway traffic sucks as much as they say
  • The popular game tailgating is Corn Hole (what I call beanbags) and I simply couldn't stop giggling about this
Next stop: Toledo, OH

Monday, October 06, 2008

GART; Destination, Richmond, VA

Day 2:

So, needless to say I didn't hit the road as early as I would have liked being up until 4:00 a.m. Craig and I went out for breakfast at the Golden Dawn where I got scrapple because when in Philly you just got to. Then I got soft pretzels at the Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory for the ride because, well, same reason. The ride was uneventful until I hit VA. I didn't take in account the traffic leaving Washington, DC for the weekend. The next hour and a half were a crawl of no more then 40 mph. It was frustrating as the 4 and a half hour drive took nearly 6 hours. I eventually made my way to Chucks place.

Chuck has become a very close friend over a short period of time. I've known him off and on for a decade but over the last few years travelling to Ireland and NYC we've become very good friends. I won't go in detail about Chucks recent health issues but he lost about a month of his life to being in an induced coma after suffering a heart attack. This was going to be my first time seeing him since.

Chuck and Melissa live in a row house built in the 1800's on East Broad St near downtown Richmond. It's a beautiful old house. Did I mention they have NINE cats? I worried a bit about this as, as I mentioned before, I'm allergic. We caught up a bit and I settled in and got ready to go to a friends house in the same block for a wine and cheese gathering. Yes, me at a wine and cheese gathering. As I described it I am the turd in the punch bowl of the wine and cheese crowd. Chuck is really into his wine and there must have been 100 bottles stored in the spare bedroom alone. We walked down to the neighbors house and Chuck kept freaking me out by walking around with an open bottle and glass of wine outside. I'm not used to that. We hung out with some of his neighbors who would best be described as almost middle aged professionals. Not so much yuppies but close. They were all really nice and I never felt out of place. We only stayed a bit then went back to his place for grilling out and to watch the Sox game. We eventually hung out on his front porch and caught up with everything in life. The cats were starting to kill me at this point and my eyes were nearly swollen shut so we called it a night.

It was sublime and low key night but perfect for what it was. Chuck is one of the funniest people I know in his very dry (and filthy rotten) way. I wish I could have spent more time there but as I'm going to see him in November it was all good

Notes from the Road:

-On route 95 travelling through DE I got stuck in the same cluster fuck of traffic I always did when I used to go down there and ironically was stuck for around 5 minutes in front of the exit that I used to take to go visit a friend

-I was amazed the sheer amount of tire blowout remnants on the side of the road. I know it's mostly from trucks but I'm amazed I've never ever had it happen to me and more so, I've never seen it happen in front of me
Next stop: Leesberg, VA

Thursday, October 02, 2008

GART; Destination, Levittown, PA

So, the Great American Road Trip came and went and I had a great time!! So, you’re asking, where were the promised blogs as I went along? Well, on a trip like this where you are staying with people there is not a ton of down time, which if there were would defeat the idea of the trip. Also, you can’t predict traffic and don’t plan anything too precisely. So, what I decided to do was put together a retrospective of the trip done by destination for your (but mostly my) enjoyment!

Day 1- Destination, Levittown, PA

So I start out the day finishing my packing. I think I literally took every article of clothing I owned as laundry was not something I wanted to think about. Around 11:45 A.M. Enterprise picked me up (just like the advertising, for real). It took longer then I figured and didn’t get back to my place to load the car, add the car to my Fast Lane/Easy Pass etc and hit the road until after 1:00. The car was a gold 2007 Chevy Malibu. It was nice enough but they gave it to me with ZERO washer fluid. I mean, on the display inside the car it read “low washer fluid” which should have tipped them off. I mean, what else do they do at car rental places but rent cars, get them back, check to make sure they are in tiptop shape then rent them again. It kinda pissed me off but I reckoned I’d address it when I needed it. Anyway, it headed for the Mass Pike to start the 5-hour drive towards Philly. I’m intimately familiar with this drive from making runs from Cambridge to Philly, Delaware and other stops in the Delaware Valley region. What I didn’t plan on was my delayed departure putting me in a knot of traffic at rush hour on the Garden State Throughway. I finally arrived around 6:30 and we hit the ground running.

Let me pause to talk about Craig and Levittown. Levittown is probably best known as one of the original pre-planned communities that were the basis for what is now modern suburbia (and for an infamous gas riot in the late 70’s). It is the largest suburb of Philadelphia though not most populous. It’s pretty much like most places with its share of middle and lower middle class families. It’s a little rough around the edges maybe but most of the folks I’ve met there are honest, hard working folks. I remember when I first met Craig his stories of Levittown scared the crap out of me. Having now been there a few times now I’m starting to think Craig and his brothers and friends were just plain crazy and not so much Levittown itself. One curious thing was they must really, really hate tailgaters (drivers, not football revelers) as about every half mile in city limits there were signs reminding you the evilness of it.

I met Craig…gosh I can’t even remember now how long ago but it was closer to 20 years then 10 years ago…showing my age. He moved to Arlington, MA after college for work. Like with many of the friends I made post-college we met at the gym and formed a group that went out every Thursday night for burgers and beer. He and I usually ended up out far after the others went home. We got along famously and became fast friends. We always laughed and laughed when we went out. I think on the surface we really weren’t much alike except our warped senses of humor and drinking prowess but in reality were very similar. We had great road trips to Ireland (greatest trip ever) and New Orleans that were unforgettable. A while back he moved back home as he felt the need to be nearer his family, which is as good a reason, as there is for moving. He met a great girl, bought a house in his neighborhood and got married. We’ve seen each other now and then since then but not nearly enough.

So, we met at his house, I dropped my bags, changed quickly, and headed out. We went to nearby Langhorne, PA to a place called, ironically enough, The Langhorne Ale House. It is part of a chain known as Miller's Ale House. Well, needless to say, we ate and drank a lot…to the tune of 50 wings and a TON of beer. I was in disbelief as I’m so used to Boston beer prices and here they were running a bucket of 5 Miller Lite for $8.00 or $5.00 for a pitcher. Fuckin’ Massachusetts. So when we finally had our fill, and let me just say Craig is one of the few people I know that cannot only match my drinking prowess but exceed it, and his wife Michelle drove us back. On the way out of the place we grabbed 2, yes, 2, 12 packs of beer. If you’ve never been to PA you buy cases of beer at a beer store but anything less is bought from a bar. Seriously. We returned to his house and his 2 cats and ginormous rabbits and proceeded to drink beer, catch up, talk about everything that’s happened in forever, and watch funny movies until 4:00 in the morning. We both decided that despite all the time that’s passed we haven’t really changed.

This was my first stop but it established 3 ongoing themes throughout the trip. 1) That Craig really is one of my favorite people and hence when you see each other, no matter how long in between, it’s like it always was. 2) That everywhere I slept there was at least one furred animal and I’m allergic and forgot my pills (more on that later). 3) You really can’t plan a trip like this too precisely as you can’t anticipate things like drinking until 4:00 A.M. Next stop, Richmond, VA

Notes from the road: I wasn’t on the road much this trip but the one note worth mentioning is Jersey, far away more then any other state I drove through, makes you feel lower then pond scum if you don’t have an easy pass. It’s not even close. It’s like, 10 lanes for Easy Pass all right down the middle and one lane for cash a quarter mile all the way to the right. So far my Easy Pass, which I’ll rarely use at home, was my soundest investment

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Great American Road Trip

So, earlier this year after a few events that shook me up I pledged to be more proactive in keeping up with my friends from away. Email is cool but impersonal and I loathe phone calls so the best way to get it done was to hit the road so I formulated the Great American Road Trip. As it stands right now I'll be on the road about 10 days and making 5 stops and still working on a 6th still. It's kind of a crazy idea but everyone I talk to about it seems to think a great idea. I'm excited but nervous not only because of the scope of the trip but because I'm usually an away for 3 or 4 days at a time at most. This will be far and away the longest I been away since I bought my place 5 plus years ago. It also plays to some of my weaknesses such as night driving and not sleeping well away from home. So, those who see me at the beginning will be far luckier then those who see me at the end haha.

As of today the itinery is Levittown, PA, Richmond, VA, Leesberg, VA (D.C. area), Holland, OH (Toledo), and Cincinnati, OH. I'm hoping to make one last stop on my way but have been having trouble with communication and/or commitment. Either way, it's going to be too much of a drive from Cinci back home after 9 days on the road so either way I'll be stopping somewhere. I'm hoping for some of this to be relaxing time to see parts of the country I've only skimmed of went directly to a destination without really getting to see. Most times when traveling I'm a get up and go and drive straight thru guy so I'll be going against instinct. I'm hoping to stop at some great off the wall local eateries as well kind of my own Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The logistics haven't been easy as trying to work around so many peoples schedules and I'll be hitting some people mid-week but should be interesting to say the least.

The trip comes at both the best and worst time as I SOOOOOO need time off but at the same time my mind weighs heavily with a run of piss poor luck of late. Maybe I'll talk about some of it as I go along as I'm tired of whining about stuff like all the time lately. I plan to blog as I go and add pictures so check back if you want to see what your man is up to.

Let the Great American Road Trip begin!!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Death of a Killer

Note: This was copied from my wrestling blog. It's a personal story but feel free to skip it-Rich O

On Saturday August 31 Walter "Killer" Kowalski left us for that great Squared Circle in the sky. Often times a wrestling name and persona is merely an extension or magnification of the person playing the part. While he was the "Killer" in the ring, outside the ring a kinder, nicer man you would have been hard pressed to find. I was lucky enough to have met the man on maybe a dozen occasions but won't claim we were friends or he could pick me out of a crowd but he always treated me with kindness and respect. I would run into him around Greater Boston in my days back on the periphery of the local wrestling scene between attending or doing security for many local shows. I was fascinated that the tall, slender, well spoken gentleman was the legendary heel "Killer" Kowalski. My friend had briefly attended his school of wrestling so we almost always spent a little time talking to him. Here are some of my personal memories of Walter (it was always Walter outside ring...if you knew him even a little, calling him Killer seemed foolish) as opposed to repeating the oft told Yukon Eric and Haystacks Calhoun stories

-While I had seen Walter in ring without knowing it (as one of the Masked Executioners along with student John "Big John Studd" Minton) in my early wrestling fan days it was really a locally produced and broadcast wrestling program called Bedlam From Boston that I really got a good taste of the Killer. Basically retired from wrestling he operated as the top heel and champion of this group that were mostly his students and was a way to get them television exposure. The show was in many ways laughable versus many other regional shows but once a week Walter would cut a promo that would make you see why he was such a heat magnet in his day. I also remember, almost laughably, that he would do his promo's maskless then wear a hood in the ring, loading it up with a foreign object for the tainted win. As I understood pro wrestling more and more I was told it was because the mask allowed him to not worry about losing his hairpiece. I never found out if that was true and honestly wouldn't ever have asked

-When I got to college and met my friend and wrestling buddy for decades to come he opened my eyes to how stuff really was. He kept me around the whole scene without ever becoming part of it. He only briefly attend the Killer Kowalski Institute of Pro Wrestling but when ever we went somewhere he could pick out a student of Walter's just by watching them work. He say "Walter would make you do this 1,000 times, Walter stressed this, Walter wouldn't let you do that". He taught his students how to wrestle the way he learned through strong basics, in-ring psychology, and high spots where they were appropriate, not all over the place. If you read all those attributes and don't see Triple H you're not paying attention.

-When we did security for ECW in Revere and Waltham Walter was almost always on hand with some of his students whether to simply watch or hopefully to get one of his guys on the under card ( I remember Walter's name being dropped in getting Erich "Mass Transit" Kulas onto the card but Walter was not there and as far as I know, Kulas was not associated with him). He would always be there watching, critiquing, and offering advice. Most of the boys had respect for Walter and eventually they had a night where former students Perry Saturn and John Kronus honored him before the local crowd as the father of extreme wrestling

-I was at a show at a local armory with maybe 50 people in attendance by the time I got there. We stood near the back and watched as a friend of ours was working the show. A guy by the name of Rick Fuller who had a job with WCW at the time was headlining (a talented and damn nice guy btw). In the course of his match he threw a guy over the ropes and through the table where Walter's audio equipment was. This was NOT a planned spot and Walter let him have it giving him a tongue lashing all the way from the ring to the dressing room about carelessness, respect for the industry, and why he'll never be big time. It was a little excessive, a little uncalled for but that was Walter.

-My most personal story. My friend and I had flown to Philadelphia for a big NWA anniversary show. The show was actually about 30 minutes away in Cherry Hills, NJ. All sorts of big names were scheduled to be there including Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Abdullah the Butcher, "Dr Death" Steve Williams, Dory Funk Jr (there with "before they were famous students" Kurt Angle, Randy Orton and many others)and many others. As we puller out of the airport in our rental, there's Walter standing in the pick up/drop off area looking perturbed. My friend rolls down his window and asks if everything is OK and Walter tells him one of his students was supposed to pick him up an hour ago. So we give him a ride. It was great as this fearsome man in his clipped Midwestern totally unique accent, traveling with no more then a small duffel bag and his camera bag, regaled us with story after story. It was a ride I will never forget.

As I said, I won't claim to have been a friend of Walter "Killer" Kowalski but did know him a little. He wouldn't know my name if asked but was always ready with a "thank you young man". He was a simple, kind, respectful man. I don't think he died a wealthy man as his best days in ring ended well before there was big money to be made but from everything I know, have heard or read he was rich with friends, stories, and experiences. Not a bad life.

Rest well Walter

Friday, August 22, 2008

9 Lives

Monday I waited and waited for the call to come in and when it finally did my mother put it simply “the doctor said dad must have nine lives as he dodged the bullet again”. What a huge sigh of relief…but wait, I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a bit:

Some of you know my dad’s story some don’t so in brief (haha…me, brief) my dad was your typical dad of the era. Lot’s of kids and worked lots of hours to make ends meet. He wasn’t around a ton as a result and when he was he was typically beat and grouchy from long, hard hours. But he was always a good dad. About 30 years ago he quit drinking cold turkey as he had issues with it and never looked back. About 15 years ago he stopped smoking for good after a few misfires. At age 60 he took an early retirement buy out and around the same time had full hip replacement. Well, the inactivity for a guy who doesn’t drive and had no real hobbies and honestly nothing to keep him preoccupied (along with the psychological damage from my sister’s tragic passing) was BAD for him and he started to become a shell of himself mentally and physically. It was scary. While all this was happening, hip pain was recurring. The pain killers kept him awake, the sleeping pills made him pee, the urologist said it was not normal for pills to make you pee so a quick scan revealed a massive tumor on his kidney. They took the whole kidney and that was that. In short order, over the next few years he had his gall bladder take, suffered what may have been a breakdown, and had his other hip done. As he is now 70 he has a full body scan done every year and this year something turned up…on his lung. OK, back to where we started…

Things have been so awesome for him lately mentally as he’s back to being the normal pain in the ass he always was and not the “crazy” pain in the ass he’s been the better part of the 2000’s. We worried the news of a growth on his lung would cause him to come unglued. But he simply said I’m getting all my stuff in order just in case but until we find out, we aren’t to talk about it in any way but positive. Wow, way to go dad!! As a result I found myself putting it to the back of my mind until, with a week to go and dealing with someone at work who has a sibling struggling with cancer that I started thinking, holy crap, dad could have lung cancer. I mean, CANCER! I never questioned the fact that dad and mom could handle it no matter what but was unsure of myself. You always judge people, whether you mean to or not, with how they handle certain situations. I’ve always thought I’d be the tough, strong, there for you no matter type of guy but now I was questioning it. I was, plain as I can say it, scared to death as, even as they’re getting older, I can’t imagine my parents not around. What was harder is I’m a guy and Irish so I didn’t share these feeling with anyone until the very days before hand. To add to the emotional duress, my sister Eileen one year to the date of major reconstructive knee surgery broke the tibia on her leg just below the bad knee teaching an aerobics class and had to have emergency surgery and my brother in-law’s step dad was placed in hospice care to live out his remaining days

Well, he really does have 9 lives. 3 cancerous tumors were successfully removed. It wasn’t “lung cancer” but rather cancer cells from the kidney tumor years ago. As of now he’s clean and won’t need chemotherapy or radiation treatments but it could turn up somewhere again so he needs due diligence. He scheduled to come home tomorrow where my poor mom will have both him and my sister laid up for the next week or so. Poor mom lol. It was scary to me more then any of his other issues for some reason and my level of relief were hard to calculate. He’ll never know how scared and worried I was because we’re not like the but, man, am I happy to still have him in the relative good health he’s in. Way to go dad, way to go!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

By(e) George!

“Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits”

Comedic genius, rebel, and all around madman George Carlin coined this immortal phrase in referencing the 7 words you could not broadcast (originally on radio later updated to T.V.). It may seem tame to those whose first exposure to totally unfiltered comedy was Dane Cook or the like but George was doing this since the 60’s. He took comedy from buttoned down to over the top pretty much single handedly. So for anyone who laughed at Eddie Murphy, Dennis Leary, Dave Chappelle or Louis Black, thank George Carlin. If you ever laughed at the witticisms of Dennis Miller, Bill Mahr, or Jon Stewart, thank George Carlin. Hell, if you are a fan of shock radio it can be traced back to George Carlin. George Carlin died quietly last week and it may take some time for the world to catch up to what we lost.

I’m probably somewhat bitter as Tim Russert’s passing was viewed like as if an ex-president had died while George went with barely a passing mention. I have nothing against Mr. Russert he really wasn’t a part of my life. Well, I suppose neither was George directly but a lot of what I consider my own sense of humor and how I look at things can be traced back to George Carlin. I could go back and look up the year but I know it was in the mid-80’s when the fledgling Home Box Office (before being known by it’s eponymous initials H.B.O.) broadcast Carlin at Carnegie. Now, I had seen George Carlin on Saturday Night Live, had heard both edited and unedited versions of some of his famous material but nothing like this. Nothing was free from his barbs. Religion, sex, politics, the poor, the rich, and charity…you name it. I continued to follow his H.B.O. specials and even seeing him live. But it was that one special that kind of opened my eyes to just how screwed up the world was and was the beginning of my seeing things from “a slightly different perspective”. It probably wasn’t until I was getting closer to the age he was when I first saw his act that I realized just how ground breaking and fearless this guy was. He was hardly a saint and lived a hard life so his passing at age 70 (or 71 I’ve heard conflicting ages) was hardly a shock but I felt a pang of sadness on hearing about it

My final memory of Mr. Carlin was a special he did a couple of years ago. I was away and sitting in bed with a lady friend watching the start of the special. After the cheering died down as he walked out on stage he uttered the following 2 words…”pussy farts”. Well, I simply started belly laughing just at the words and how this late 60 something legend said it. About a minute into the routine I was crying laughing and she was turning the channel saying, “that’s not that funny and you’re stupid”. Well, actually he WAS that funny. There was no dark corner he wouldn’t enter, no subject too taboo, no group he was afraid to piss off and for that, thank you George! You will be missed

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hey, I'm walking here!

It’s finally Spring so you know what that means! Opening Day? Flowers blooming? Mother’s Day? All affirmative but no, more then all that it’s Walk season! Yes, the Walk for Hunger, Aid’s Walk, MS Walk, etc. Each and everyone an ultra, ultra worthy causes. However, you knew there would be a however, are there too many? I say thee YES! The problem is three-fold. First, it’s the car alarm effect where you just sop noticing, second is the redundancy in that it seems there are walks for the same cause multiple times by multiple groups and lastly, the well of money’s to give just comes dry now and again. I think people with causes and those that support them are phenomenal individuals but I question how effective this form of funding has become. I’m not cold or anything and I have both supported and participated in walks I just feel the original idea has kind of gone astray.

The original concept of walks for raising funds for charity was to also raise awareness almost in the same vein of the protests of the 60’s and 70’s by a show of unity in a public forum. Previous to this most efforts were can collections, raffles, something like basketball marathon (sponsored $$$ per basket etc), which raised money but not awareness. The walks did both and actually continue to raise money. The awareness part…I’m not so sure anymore. There are simply too many, stacked one on top of or right after one another every weekend. I think people’s reaction has become indifferent as in “oh god, another friggin walk I have to wait out of change my plans”. Or if you’re a lesser-known walk maybe you don’t have the clout to get the downtown walk but rather the slightly left of center walk. What’s that? The city/state doesn’t just shut down downtown traffic at a whim and it involves planning and the like? Now, nearly all of these raise money so bottom line is they work I simply think there are soooooo many that the raising awareness, not just funds, has gone the way of the dinosaur.

What probably frustrates me most is the redundancy factor in that it seems there are multiple walks, and for that matter, charities, supporting the same cause but splitting their resources. A few years ago I did a walk for Autism, as it’s a subject near and dear to my heart. I’ve missed it the last few years but was distressed to see there was now a second group sponsoring a walk for Autism. I was just surprised because really, wouldn’t one united front mean more for awareness and research funding dollars raised? Now, maybe I’m wrong maybe 2 or 3 different groups separate from each other works better although I’m mystified as to how. I’m also not na├»ve and know that a lot of times charity can be a vanity thing as silly as that sounds. Here in Boston 2 well known Red Sox champion the same cause, ALS. However, both have their own foundation they are attached to carrying their own name. Wouldn’t it mean so much more for them to support the same foundation? Being the top dog of this or that charity means a lot to people. I also know sometimes there are underlying meanings (taxes and otherwise) that make having differing groups supporting the same cause. I also know some people are paid to run charities (sometimes a lot) as it entails a lot of work and sometimes there are splits over money. And lastly, as I’ve see close at hand with a group my boss’s wife runs which does unreal work. The principals who started the local chapter just had different ideas philosophically and are now splitting the local resources doing the exact same work. I don’t know enough about charity work to say I’m correct but in my humble opinion, one cause, one walk, one common united front makes for a stronger charity

The last thing is let’s face it, we all care about something but in this time of gas over $4.00 a gallon and $6.00 for a 5 pound bag of flour, money’s too tight to mention and how do we pick and choose who and what to support? I mean, how does one decide which to support? Your best friend? Cancer research? Your sister? The Homeless? It really does become a matter of how much you can give. Charity certainly does begin at home but you need to take care of your home before you can give too much to charity. As I think of just off the top of my head the number of causes I should be concerned with it’s staggering. Diabetes, MS, autism, depression, heart health, breast cancer, cancer research, alcoholism, children in Africa, children in South America…and on and on. Every one of those things has directly affected my family, my friends or me. So, how do you pick and choose? All are good causes, all are good events, and everyone who participates is a better person then I.

Since I started writing this diatribe the devastating cyclone that tore through Asia is most on people’s minds and a reminder that when we all look towards one goal we are so much better then when rudderless. Don’t think of me as too cynical, callous, or hard (ok, maybe hard haha) as there are very few bad causes. I simply think we need to get beyond the walk, become united in certain similar goals, and understand as much as we’d like to, most of us can only give so much to so many at any given time. I think anyone who gets up off his or her ass to raise money and participate is awesome. I just think a different type of event and more groups united in their causes would mean greater results sooner. Gosh, I really am a cynical prick

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The C-Word

And now for something completely different:

I can’t think of another word in the English language that draws more ire from the female population then the “C-word” (rhymes with hunt and from this point on, for my own safety, shall be referred to as the C-word). What is it that makes this word so reviled? I mean, there must be 100 euphemisms for the female genitalia, many not very flattering, yet none elicit the response the C-word does. I’ve tried to delve somewhat into the etymology of the word but have come up with nothing definitive. For all I know the word could have ended up being pop, dog, hung, or lint. But it didn’t. So why does this word carry so much more weight? I sometimes think it’s the short, hard sound of the word that just sounds ugly. I can’t think of an uglier sounding word. Maybe it just sounds ugly cause it sounds like the word it is and had the word been say, dog, maybe that would then sound ugly…hmmm. Hell, in England, among certain groups it can be a term of endearment (Trainspotting anyone?) Let’s leave it at this. I don’t think it’s the word or the body part but referring to a person, particularly a female, as a C-word is saying you think she is the lowest of the low. Lower then “bitch”, “slut”, or “whore” for sure. In fact, used sparingly, it can be a very powerful statement (think Richard Gere telling Lynette what she was in An Officer and a Gentleman). No matter how you slice it, other then maybe the N-word (which has no place even being part of the vocabulary in my opinion) there is no word you are likely to hear uttered that will elicit such an almost uniform negative response.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I can't relate

Its time for my annual blog about the one subject I know least; relationships. Just to get the caveats out of the way I mean intimate couple relationships, I’m not looking for sympathy, and these are simply MY views so I may come off as shallow and selfish but its MY blog so deal. OK, now that’s out of the way…For the last calendar year I have not, for the first time in a few years, been involved with any kind of relationship of any kind orthodox or unorthodox. I also realize this is probably where I’m most comfortable. I’ve never been a relationship guy, which likely explains how odd my last several relationships have been; younger, long distance, younger and long distance, younger, long distance and a relationship in only one person’s eyes…you get the drift. The one thing they all had in common was lack of total commitment and space. Now, commitment part, don’t get me wrong, I’m as fiercely loyal as the day is long its just all that goes along with that…be patient, I’ll get there. Space, well, yeah, until you grew up in a house of 8 you don’t even know what space is. I’ve never really been in many long relationships so I guess lot of the “stuff” that goes along with it mystifies me. I mean, in a relationship 2 people love each other, right? What I look at and see going on amongst my peers in their relationships makes me wonder if I’m not better off as is. I simply think I’ve been single too long and can’t imagine some of the stuff that goes along with relationships in my eyes. I think someone would have to break my will, spirit, and very essence of what makes me who I am for me to be who I would have to become. So, here are the top relationship phenomenons I either don’t understand or don’t see myself conforming to:

  1. Having “hand”- Marc and I speak of this a lot. I think it’s originally form an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s the concept of someone being alpha in any relationship. The person who wears the pants so to speak. The person with whom every decision is made. The one who makes the other grovel and beg for each and every thing they want or need to do. I’m sorry to say ladies that in 100% of the cases in my life of relationships where one person has “hand” it is the female who has it. This emasculating coexistence and the fact that people not only deal with it by strive in it may be the number one thing I don’t “get”. I’ve never been the alpha in any group yet not one to run with the pack either. I simply don’t want anyone controlling my life 100%. Not my parents, not my boss, and certainly not someone I love
  2. Constant contact- I get aggravated more then you can imagine with people whose significant other calls or requires then to call a half a dozen times during the work day. Now, some have kids, some have sick people to tend to, housing projects, etc. However, most of the conversations are more like this “ok, I will, I’ll talk to you later”. “Things are good here, I’ll talk to you later”. Again, I feel this is more a show of “hand” by the alpha to keep a short leash. This also extends to the checking in while I’m out with my friends call, I’m at a business meeting call, the I’m on my way home from the gym call, etc. I don’t need, want, nor understand the concept of anyone wanting that much control or more the point, anyone allowing them to be controlled that much. Again, I know there are times in everyone’s lives more calls are needed so please don’t give me the “you don’t understand you don’t have…etc” bullshit.
  3. Attached at the hip- I personally have a hard time with this. This is likely more a “me” thing then anything else. I’ve always been and worked hard to remain who I am, Rich O’Rourke. I am not now nor ever have been defined by my relationships. I don’t want to become “Rich and” when you think of me. This is totally petty but I’ve never been “Rich and” so I don’t get it. I really like how things are right now. If I want to go out with MY friends, I go out with my friends without having to feel guilty, if I don’t want to come home after work, I don’t. If I want to lay around in my underwear reading all day on my day off, I can. I can fly or drive to see whomever I want, male or female, by myself, without hurting anyone’s feelings. I don’t have to pretend YOUR friends are MY friends just because we’re us. I don’t share the remote, can shower as much or little as I want, go days without shaving…you get the point. It’s not very often you get to live your life, with the exception of the boundaries of work, with the sense of total freedom I have right now, at this point, at 41 years old. I think this would be my greatest hurdle to cross if ever I was to be in a relationship.
  4. Manipulation- Ugh, I see this too much. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes overt, and sometimes downright public. I swear, I know these people love each other but all they do is tweak, embarrass, maneuver, and browbeat their significant other to get their way right then and there or setting them up for somewhere down the line. Lying, scheming, hurting…I see it everyday by some of the people I love and respect more then anyone. I don’t get how you can live your life treating the person you love most like this. They use every tool they have, and in the case of women, the threat of not getting any (guys are so easy to manipulate) to get what they want no matter the hurt. And it runs the gamut from guilt trips for going out to set up going out themselves, making someone change what they’re wearing to something they like more, to making a huge decision they are opposed to simply to keep the peace with their significant other. This, more then anything else, makes me shake my head

Like I started by saying much of that sounds small, petty, and selfish but it’s where I’m at. I’m not ruling out falling in love hard enough to see past some of these things, hell a few years back I thought I was in love enough I totally put up with and did shit I never thought I was capable of. But I honestly think I’m too far-gone. Use whatever euphemism you prefer; old dogs, leopards spots, wild spirits being broken, etc. I truly love my life and lifestyle. For every period of loneliness I endure, there are times of true joy over things I love doing I couldn’t in a relationship. You fill in the lonely times with things you love to do. For me it’s reading, the gym, going to the bar, and cooking. OK, sex can’t really be replaced (haha) but at the end of the day while important, I won’t make wrong decisions based around it (I swear more people have fucked up for the sake of getting some then for love or money throughout history). Again, this is not throwing in the towel. Gosh, I mean, who doesn’t wanna fall head over heel in love? And I still hold hope, although unlikely, of kids. But I’m a realist. I am from a family with clearly drawn lines. Half went on to have huge families and half to be single their whole lives so I’m comfortable either way. If for the rest of my days I’m known as favorite Uncle Richie, Rich the reliable brother and son, Rich the loyal employee, Rich who is always up for a guys trip, Rich who I can always talk to when I need to as there’s no “Mrs. Rich”, or Rich who never forgot his friends for the sake of a girlfriend or wife as so many have done then I’ll die a happy and fulfilled man.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Good Luck Chuck

So, there is finally good news regarding my friend Chuck. He has been extubated and is breathing normally, aware and communicating although with some difficulty as having a tube in for so long wreaks havoc on the throat and vocal chords. It is such a relief for his wife, family, and friends and yes, Chuck himself. He is scheduled for a procedure tomorrow and hopefully heading home in the near future. His life will have to change somewhat I’m sure. It is definitely a life-defining event but sometimes that’s what it takes to focus on what’s important. I know this has been an awful strain on his wife. For the rest of his peers it’s been a struggle not only knowing what happened but that really it could have been any of us. It really made me pause and look at my eating habits, drinking habits, my beer gut, my medical conditions, my family history, and my attitude I definitely believe you only go through this life once and should live it with gusto but on the same hand one really needs to take care of ones self. Makes you rethink that pizza, 13th beer, skipping the gym and blowing off routine doctors appointments. I can’t say this will be a moment of clarity or anything for me but it really has caused me pause. All around me I see friends and acquaintances fighting through serious health issues. Other then my diabetes (nothing to breeze over actually) I have been blessed with a super human constitution but I really have age and history starting to work against me.

One side affect of the whole episode was how dear friendship is. I was overwhelmed by the concern people had for me, as I had not been myself between this and other (see below) events going on in my life. It meant more then they will ever realize. I don’t actually share a lot of my issues with a lot of people and prefer to be there for them. I guess that’s a flaw in my character or maybe just how I was brought up. I am thankful for the people who won’t accept that and keep on me about what’s wrong. Keeping bottled up isn’t healthy. On the other hand it did help clarify where I stand in some friends eyes and I guess vice versa, where certain friends fall in mine. I also found myself being a hypocrite (there’s that topic again) in that with all the talk about friendship I am as guilty as anyone of letting friends slip away. It happens. The further away you get geographically and philosophically the harder it is to stay close. That said most of us have the means through modern technology to stay closer longer and if we don’t take advantage of this then we have no one to blame but ourselves. So, I’ve pledged to, and already started, to contact all those I feel slipping away or really, I just plain miss. It’s not easy but I’m trying. My hope is making a massive road trip in early fall to see as many people in a short time as possible.

Real quick (as if I’m capable of that) on other shit:

- Refinance- was going swimmingly and fell apart day I was to close. No idea why as I keep hearing I’m a “home run” but whatever. I have time just wanted it over.

- Toe- all better. Will revisit issue at the end of the month and decide whether or not just having toe nail removed is the best idea

- I’m going to the Sox game in Philly in June. Yay

- I was sick Tuesday. By that I mean I called into work. It means I vomited. Neither of these events had occurred since Dec 26, 1999. Yes, kind of creepy I know this. And yes, I got all the Cal Ripken jokes already. Was odd tho

- Mice- yea, they are still around. I haven’t caught any lately but I still here the little fuckers at night. It just stinks having to think so much about how and where you store food. I also fear the mice that have died under my cabinets etc coming back to haunt me in the form of rotting corpses. This really has me out of sorts as it makes you feel dirty even if it’s not your fault

I guess that’s it for now. I know I haven’t been on Myspace much and that’s likely to be the case. It simply doesn’t do much for me anymore. I love writing and reading blogs, hearing from friends, posting and looking at pictures but these days most of the people I hear from on Myspace are the same one’s I hear from in “real life” so it’s become redundant. As much as I once loved Myspace I now find it can be an exercise in mixed signals, drama, and confusion. I don’t need more of that then I already have thank you. I’ll never give it up, as there are some people it’s my only connection to and they mean enough to me to keep me somewhat attached. Anyone who ever wants to talk I’ll give you my cell and email and I promise I’ll be there for you.

Just a special shout out to a friend going through some issues. Good luck tomorrow and let’s hope for the best.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thoughts, rants, and musings

Just some random shit been on my mind:

  • I like to stay on the outskirts of things, to be a supporting rather then a lead player. You know, that part of the group that your happy to see, is always near by, but never so involved he gets caught up in the drama. I can’t always do this but it is my preferred position
  • You know it’s bad when gas drops to $2.99 a gallon and everyone is excited about it. I don’t really know nor care about the politics of the whole thing but it sucks balls when you have to actually think about how much it’s going to cost you for what used to be routine drives

  • I think I’m just lazy and indifferent at this point but I can’t figure people obsessed with whatever fill in the blanks recreational activity is their bailiwick. It tends towards, but is not limited to, seasonal activities. Skiing, snowmobiling, golfing, ATV’s, hell even concerts. I just have never been that caught up in anything (ok, except maybe drinking haha) that I would regularly schedule my life around it rather then it around my life

  • Yield signs are rarely if ever obeyed when entering onto the highway etc from a ramp. It’s such a waste of time as practically no one ever looks to the point it’s actually the persons in the right lane looking to exit that are forced to yield to those entering

  • I miss people wearing baseball caps like baseball caps. You can say it’s fashion sense, generational, ethnicity etc but the bottom line is a BASEBALL cap is worn visor pointed straight ahead, visor bent. They were designed to keep the sun out of your eyes while playing baseball. I’ll give a little leniency to wearing it straight back but that’s really for catchers. This sideways, off kilter, straight visor bullshit has got to go. OR if that’s what you insist on, come up with a new name like, “I-think-I’m-all-urban-and-ghetto” hats

  • Obsession is a terrible thing and I’ve found my Obsession; The Food Network. I didn’t know where to find this channel a year ago. Now nary a day goes by I don’t tune in. Be it the geeky science obsessed Alton Brown, the strangely proportioned and annoying Rachel Ray, the oddly sexy Paula Deen (no I can’t explain it) and the rest of the merry band of foodies. I don’t know if it’s my desire to become a better cook or simply that the entertainment value is just simply better then that of network TV.

  • People riding their bicycles in the snow. Don’t get it. Never will
  • Having been there, done that, I can’t understand how many people risk life, limb, and their jobs continually driving after having WAY too much to drink. I have friends with 2 strikes against them and drive for a living who continue to drive while shattered, friends with kids at home who drive smashed regularly, and friends who just simply refuse, despite forgetting how they got home (and they drove), have mystery scratches or dents etc, to think they are too drunk to drive. Now some of you are likely laughing with this coming from me but if you know me I walk, bus, or cab or have a designated driver whenever I’m going out power drinking. I just don’t want to see people I care about make the same mistake I made…or worse

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The best medicine?

Ok, admittedly I have been a bit down of late and disappointed in people (and therefore myself) who I have always considered close and important. It’s a cold slap in the face when you realize you couldn’t be more wrong and that most people care only about themselves or, at the very least, never about you. I guess maybe I’m just cut from a different cloth then a lot of my “friends” in that I’m there for them no matter how small the issue and yet so many wouldn’t know if I lost both of my arms in an accident unless it was because I couldn’t dial my phone to get back to them the minute they had another minor crisis. This is not most or even the majority of my friends but really a select few who in my wildest imagination would never be like that. In some cases it’s sunk as low as lack of appreciation for unselfish acts. Weird.

Well, all that said, leave it to real friends to restore my faith in people. About a month ago I made plans to go to New York City with 3 friends. MY friend Marc who, if you’ve read my blogs over the years, is a great friend I see a lot, Cliff who I see now and then (ironically he lives just around the corner from me but with kids etc he’s not around as much) and Chuck who is now living in VA and I rarely see at all. As the trip loomed looked less forward to it. I have a laundry list of stuff going on right now ranging from home and car issues, some health stuff, etc (please Kevin, if you read this don’t go into panic mode lol). None is major but added up it’s had me on the edge. So much was on my mind I didn’t think I’d have fun and New York is not my favorite place to begin with. Well, if laughter is the best medicine I declare myself cured. I haven’t laughed this much since I went to Ireland with the same group. I mean, LAUGHED. At one point I laughed so hard I was sweating, had tears running down my face and my nose started bleeding which naturally, had my friends laughing even harder (I know a real pretty picture). All we did was eat and drink and make fun of each other and ourselves. I don’t know how much anyone else would have loved it but it was totally us. Gone for a few days were worries of front brakes, refinancing, infected toes, transmissions, and mice. They all still exist but seem a little less important. I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow recounting of the trip, as no one else would find it funny

My point is twofold. First friendship, real friendship can make everything feel better and makes me appreciate my REAL friends more. Secondly I realize that there are some friends who just make you feel better and others that tend to make you feel bad. I really don’t need anymore of the latter and more of the former. Chuck and Cliff, while I don’t see them that much, make me laugh and are great, great friends and Marc is my friend through and through. Most of you who will actually read this know you’re my friends so it’s not likely you fall into the care less category (some might tho haha) but should know that at the end of the day each and every one of you is important to me.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stars in Their Eyes

With the recent death of Heath Ledger and Britney’s continued meltdown I’ve been thinking a lot about our obsession with celebrity. Robert Wuhl (very underrated funnyman) did a couple of specials on HBO called Assume the Position that goes on to show that America has always been a society of “star fuckers” as he called it. He contends that throughout history it’s been the most famous persons of the time that got the credit for famous discoveries and events not necessarily the most important people. So why do we care more about the death of Heath Ledger then your best friend’s grandmother? Why is what’s happening to Britney, LiLo, and Brangelina keep us more enthralled then what’s going on at our kids’ school? Why do we give a crap about no talents like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian who are famous just because their parents are (and because of sex tapes) more then the doctors out there trying to cure cancer? I’m not really sure but we do. I’m going to take at look at this from my own twisted perspective and as I tend to get long winded (I know you’re shocked) I think I’ll break it into at least blogs (please, hold the applause).

So, onward and upward!

Call them the media, paparazzi, or cockroaches; whatever you call them they may be the people most responsible for this star fucking society. Never at any time has there been more different media devoted to famous people. Sure, there were always the tabloids and society columns etc but we now have at least 2 full time networks, 8 billion internet sites, radio shows, etc all telling us who to love, who to hate, who’s in and who’s out. It seems the media has 2 jobs. One is to build up celebrity to a point they couldn’t possibly live up to those standards and the other is when they don’t live up to these standards to drag them down. It’s a fine line between fame and infamy.

I always find that when the media gets behind someone and then turns on them it’s usually because there is some aspect of their personal lives, which they feel the public would disapprove. OK, I get that but here’s the thing, just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you are a good or nice person. If you were a mean, nasty, anti-social prick before you became famous, why pretend to be nice now? I always love the concept of they “owe” their fans something be it an autograph, etc. Um, no, no they don’t. They are doing a job; you pay them to do their job because what they do entertains you. That’s where the obligation ends. If what they do sops entertaining you, you stop paying to see it. That’s it. Because you do something well does that mean you now deserve to have cameras in your face, people asking for autographs while at dinner with your family, or having stories about your personal life dragged out in the open? Not where I’m from. Who doesn’t have a co-worker who’s a prick? A parent of your kid’s friend with a drinking problem? A relative cheating on their spouse? Are they laid to waste in front of the whole world because of this? No, not hardly. Does it make them lesser people? Do you think more of Johnny Depp knowing he’s the most accommodating man in Hollywood to fans or less of Will Ferrell because he’s the least? Well, probably.

I guess in reality celebrity is like making a deal with the devil. There is nary a star today who could have climbed to the heights they have with out cozying up to the media or at least not being combative with them. They are happy to ride this wave to super stardom then are surprised when their very relationship with the media opens the cracks in the foundation for their demise. Britney was just a cute kid from the Mickey Mouse Club that could carry a tune (sort of) until the media turned her into an underage sexpot and biggest super star since Madonna. When, however, her unstable behavior came to the forefront they were the same one’s tearing her apart. And you know what? You loved it (well except the “Leave Britney Alone” guy…um, girl, um, whatever). We call this Schadenfreude (you of course remember my famous schadenfreude blog, right?) It’s human nature to feel a little bit good about someone who had it all losing it. It’s a slippery slope people.

So, really, why do we care? Quite simply is famous people are created by the media to have so much more then we do, lead such glamorous, perfect, fabulous lives that we live in awe of them and envy their lives. What we don’t realize is that every one of them, famous or not, are human beings and subject to human frailty just like you and me. The problem is when they show the weak side of their humanity we are ready to jump on them with golf shoes. Me? I say let them live tier lives. If you enjoy their shows, movies, music, or sport then great. What they do with their own time should be their own. So, leave Britney alone, let Heath rest in piece and not become the new (and trust me, he’s not) James Dean, let Tom Brady visit his super model girlfriend in peace without making the front page. Let’s enjoy them for who they are and what they do and worry about more important shit like say, our own lives.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Got my eye on you

So, it's been a while since my angry man routine. Just haven't felt like bothering. But a lot of stuff been bugging me lately so here I go. Am I talking about you? Maybe. You tell me...

Dudes in droopy drawers
-Ok, enough is enough. Pull up your damned pants. No one wants to be seeing your nasty ass boxers. Clothing trends tend to come and go but this one won’t go away. If 1% of the white boy wannabes from the suburbs had even one clue as to where and why the look evolved they’d be pulling their pants up to their eyeballs. Call me a 40 something white guy with no fashion sense but having to suffer through seeing guys walking around getting chaffed for the sake of fashion and worse, me having to endure seeing their boxers, but I know ridiculous when I see it. If you’re older then 18 (and I’m being generous), pull up your damned pants…and straighten out your hats while you’re at it!!

Noisy personal habits- I’ll be even more direct here, if you’re older then 8 and can’t drink out of a water or soda bottle without suckling on it like mothers teat or chew gum without sounding like a cow chewing the worlds densest cud you should be bent and driven with a spiked bat. That’s all I got to say there

Perfunctory remarks- Look, if you’re going to give me a bullshit line (nice day outside, cold enough for you, thank god it’s not snow, etc) save your breath as I don’t give a fuck. If you have something of value to say, I’m all ears and willing to have a conversation. It’s just so insulting like as if saying “I’m really not interest in talking to you but polite society says I must…asshole”. My favorite? Patriots Playoff game, haven’t missed a game all season and am asked “you gonna watch the game tonight”? Naw, I figured what’s the point I’ll just rent Good Luck Chuck instead

Time Bandits-Time, the never-ending puzzle and ultimate crutch. Bad things tend to happen when you have too much of it on you hands and nothing gets done when you don’t have enough of it. Me, I’m not buying it and I’m also guilty of it. I just don’t blame time for everything. Take 5 seconds and see how far you can walk. Then a minute, then 5 minutes. You’d be surprised. The fact of the matter is most people (I’ll give you parents with young kids a pass) have more free time then they know what to do with. Realistically the thing we don’t have time for are the things we really don’t wanna do. Period. We always seem to find the time to squeeze in what we consider important. So, while time is both precious and aplenty think hard before telling me you didn’t have time to do something (and I will as well)

Sick of being sick- I openly admit I’ve been sick more the last 2 years then ever before. However in my family a cold is not considered sick. I also typically live by the creed of suffer in silence. Now, if someone asks how I’m feeling I’ll respond shitty if that is indeed the case and that ends it. What I’m tired of people whining and complaining and carrying on about their symptoms. The emphasized nasally voice, asking everyone what to take, constantly reminding everyone about how long they’ve been sick. I guess this is limited mostly to work and family as most of my friends don’t carry on like that (and really just my dad and one sister do). I think part is for sympathy, part for attention, and part as a lead in to banging in sick (which I am, by the way, starting my 8th straight year without doing…just saying)

Man, this time of the year I could go on and on but I’ll stop here…for now. But watch your ass, I’ll be picking on you soon ;)