Thursday, April 28, 2005

Odds and Ends

Tonight I think I'm going to review everyone's favorite viking, Hagar the Horrible.

First up, I had to nab this comic from another dude's blog because King Features sucks and won't let you post the strip anywhere except for their precious web site. Like anyone is going to steal Hagar the Horrible.

In any case, I hope that this guy doesn't mind too much. I just found his site today and it seems pretty cool, while I only rip comics apart once a week if I'm lucky, this guy is merciless once a week. His site is:

Anyway, this isn't about Josh reading comics, it's about me reading the comics. Let's check this piece of work out, eh? It's from February 28, but since it's Hagar the Horrible, chances are pretty good that this strip is void of any sort of humor freshness date. Chris Browne is the author and artist of the strip, and in the first panel, he pulls off his most famous trick: a close up of Hagar saying something sort of innocent.

In this case, we know that he's tied up? But why? Is he on train tracks? No, trains weren't invented yet. Is Lucky Eddie pulling a trick on him? No. Hagar is a viking, that shit doesn't happen to a viking. Maybe a little S&M? Not bloody likely.

So what is it? Browne pulls back in the next panel to reveal that Eddie and Hagar are are being burnt at the stake by a bunch of (English?) dudes. I say English because the Vikings used to beat the crap out of the British Isles (so maybe they could be Irish, Scottsmen or Welsh ... hell they could be French for all I know, but Browne usually gives Frenchmen pastry hats and curly mustaches).

Whatever your favorite serfdom nationality is, Browne wants us to suspend belief that they somehow got Hagar's (I wish I was able to do umlats over the A) address and invited him and Eddie to a cookout. And they came. Why did they do this? Who the fuck knows, Hagar has been same the character since he came out 50 years ago. Hell I've seen end tables develop more character than this guy has.

I know that I say this over and over and over again, but what makes these artists drag their characters through this crap every day. I would guess that Browne has made enough money in his life that he doesn't need to write the same story over and over and over again. While Curtis has the same eight plots, Hagar has even less: he and Eddie are marooned on an island, they get in trouble with Englishmen, the wife is always crabbing about housework or getting something, the tax man comes calling or Qvack the duck and Snert the dog are acting like people. Aside from maybe a story about his two kids (a seamingly slutty daughter and a brainy son) that's about it.

Mr. Browne, if you happen to find this blog while looking to make a golf course, let me tell you something: Just stop it. Enough with the Viking thing, go away and take Hagar with you. I promise we'll think very highly of you and I'll only talk about Hagar in whispered tones. It's time to give this mofrackie a Viking funeral.

I finished another book last week, it was called "Haunted Heritage", and it was as cheesy as it sounds. About four months ago I was bored, so I wandered into Borders looking for a book that would scare my socks off. I found this and put it on my shelf. After I had burned through all of the books I got for Christmas, I decided to read this. It wasn't bad, basically the authors, Michael Norman and Beth Scott (I don't trust people with two first names) collected lots of stories from all over North America. They are grouped into areas of the country.

So basically, the Eastern region gets a bunch of ghosts from colonial times, the south gets Civil War spooks, the west gets old West shit and the Northern and midwest get a hodge podge. Some of the stories were ok, but there were a lot of handed down legends. I don't need to read that shit, very boring.

There was one really good story about a family from Milwaukee who had sort of an Amittyville thing at their place. That one sort of freaked me out and for a night or two made taking a piss in the middle of the night sort of weird. If the collection didn't have that Milwaukee story, the book would've completely sucked, but it wasn't that bad. If you're bored, pick it up, it's an easy read.

I think that's all I'm going to write for now. I'm dead tired and want to go to bed. I'll see you some time this weekend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Dateline: Amesbury

That's right, I'm back in Amesbury for the night. I guess it's not the worst thing in the world to go home and chill for a bit. The reason why I'm home this evening is two-fold, one I had to pick up my license (which was mailed to me by an annonymous person from -- a company in Boston) and the other reason was I had to do laundry.

Aside from the walk to the parking lot, the sucky thing about our apartment is that it has no washing machines, thus Aly and I are laundry nomads. About a month ago, I actually brought my dirty cloths to New York to clean them because Danna and Rick have a washer. I should be used to it because I didn't have a washer and dryer in Somerville either, but it still sucks.

Jay and I went for to the Sylvan Street Grille for a few beers, mom had already come home, so she wasn't there when we bellied up to the bar. Jay is enjoying his new job, as a manager at Pizzeria Unos. The one that sucks, at least it sounds like it sucks, is that his hours are insane. He has to work 11-hour shifts every day for five days a week. For those who suck at math, that's 55 hours a week and he's also working at the pizza place.

Add the 40 minute commute both ways and he's actually working more hours than he's not. He's also having a rough go of it in the sleep department. As the child who got Mike Magrane's insomnia genes, he's up until 2 am each night, which isn't so bad if he didn't have to wake up at 5 am. That would push me over the edge. I remember when I worked the 2 pm - 10 pm shift at the Alden Merril cheesecake factory when I was in college and I used to regularly stay up until 3, I was on the verge of a breakdown until the mercifully switched my hours. I don't know how he does it.

Aside from the long days, he seems to like it. He and a couple of his buddies found a place to live on Salisbury Beach today. Sounds like they got a decent place, though it is Salisbury Beach. We'll see what happens.

It's strange, there is probably no other place on earth that I've done more writing than in the room that I am in right now (my old bedroom), but I still don't feel completely at home. I don't feel like a stranger, but this isn't my desk or my computer, yet the surroundings are mine. Surreal is probably too strong of a word, but it definitely feels bizarre.

Tomorrow I have to go to a conference about conferences in Salem, MA at the Hawthorne Hotel. Aly and I were going to have our wedding there, but we decided on the Longwood Towers instead. The Hawthorne is a beautiful place, but I've had so many work functions there that it would seem uneventful.

Speaking of Aly, she's in Franklin tonight visiting her parents and taking care of her dog. The pup is getting old and is getting arthritis in it's hind legs. I'm not sure what can be done about this, but I hope something can, it's really tearing Aly up.

We had a busy few days this weekend past, first we went up to Kim and Jamie's house where we met up with Skaus and Sara and Reddish. Not too bad of a time. We were all beat, so there were lulls in the conversation, but I hadn't seen them in a long time. The really cool thing is that I saw their new daughter Lia, very cute kid.

Saturday, Aly's folks came up for dinner after she was out with them all day. That was a good day for me because it allowed me to do some work on my cartoon and also get done some other stuff. Aly made a tremendous meal (spaghetti and panchetta for the first course and then filet mignon under a port wine sauce for the second). I'm telling you, she can flat out cook.

After her parents left, we met Stacy and Anthony at Finale in Havard Square. I didn't really want to be there, I was tired and just wanted to go to sleep, so I was in a pretty shitty mood. It's not that I didn't want to see those two, I did as I like them both very much, but between the drive and the check ($100 for dessert and drinks ... it's a restaurant that specializes in dessert) it wasn't the best night I ever had. Whatever.

On Sunday, Debbie surprised Nick with a 30th birthday party. Most of the Merrimack crew was there except for Colleen, Kim and their SOs. Though it was Nick's party, Debbie was the star as everyone was fawning over her ring. We had a good time. Nick asked Skaus and I to be ushers in his wedding, which is tentively set for next September.

Hopefully by then I'll have a new job. I've just been in a funk lately, which seems to occur once a season now. I hate my commute, I hate that I am not doing something more meaningful with my life and I hate that I'm not making more money. There has to be something close by where I can make a difference and get paid a good wage. I'm not looking to break the bank, but I do need a couple more sheckles.

Wow. Rereading this I can tell that I'm tired because I'll I'm doing is listing shit and bitching. I plan to write a bit on Thursday, hopefully then I'll do another comic review and maybe I'll review all of the MLB parks I've been to. I bet you can't wait. Also, I have to review a book I just finnished and I may be redesigning the Blog.

That won't be done for Thursday though.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The week that was

Here are some shots from the recent games I went to.

Opening Day 2005, perhaps the greatest day in Boston sports history.

Check out this banner ... we've been waiting a long time for this. I'm really glad that they finally recognized the 1995 A.L. East Champs.

The wall before.

The wall after. A little different, wouldn't you say?

This is a SoSHer. I'm not telling which one, but he's from Delaware. Pretty funny sign for a guy from Delaware.

These are all the Sox getting their rings. It looks like I'm far away because I am, second from the last row in the bleachers.

Hoisting the flag. Stupid wind ruined this picture.

The place was packed. You couldn't find a seat anywhere.

I think that this was the last out. I really love this shot because it gives you a sense as to how strong the sun was (Sheffield lost a fly ball that day) and how lucky Lou Pinella was in 1978.

This from our trip to Washington DC to see the Nationals play. It was on Sunday, April, 17.

Beautiful RFK stadium before game time. As old as this place is, they did a great job with the field.

Look! It's Jose Vidro playing catch. I know these aren't as exciting as my other batch of shots.

Now I finally have proof that I've seen Vinny Castilia play baseball. No longer will anyone laugh at me.

We drove by Camden Yards on the way home. Check it out.

I was pretty drunk and tired when I took this picture. But this is me with my Natty Boh. Do me a solid and don't photoshop me on some chick's body.

And that's basically what I've been doing with myself for the last few weeks. Next week, more comics reviewed and I give you my top eight stadiums in detail. Ooooh boy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Baltimore and more

It has been a busy week, so I'll try to go through the high spots day by day.


Not much happened. Very boring. Watched Survivor. They kicked off the gay guy. He was a good character.


I wasn't looking forward to Friday, mainly because Aly and I were about to start our trip to Baltimore/Washington DC, by car. Ugh. Just getting out of Massachusetts is a pain in the ass, but adding seven hours to that is going to kill me. We managed to get out of Boston around 5:30. Around 7:00 we decided to stop at a rest stop in Charlton for some grub.

If Dante's Inferno ever took place in the 21st Century and in Massachusetts, it would take place at the Charlton rest stop. First there were the four hormonaly-charged teen agers who couldn't make a decision on pizza toppings, but apparently decided to take out their sexual frustrations on each other by pounding the shit out of one another. There were also the white trash parents who let their children scream and run through the restaurant. Then there were the pizza people themselves who took 40 minutes to make a pepperoni pizza.

In fairness, there were a lot of people there, but the Papa Gino's manager looked like she was going to murder her underlings. That was sort of funny.

After we ate, we motored our way to White Plains, where we spent the night at Danna and Rick's. Danna is seriously pregnant, but seems to be in good spirits. The one good thing is that all four of us were beat, so we went right to bed.


Woke up early and Aly got behind the wheel for the first time in about four months. Sort of scary. I was the navigator, but I was half asleep and we got lost in New Jersey for about an hour. Obviously that sucked. We werethisclose to getting into a little skirmish about it. But cooler heads prevailed and next thing you know we were on the Delaware Memorial Bridge. For the second time in my life, I was in fucking Delaware! That rocked, in a Delaware sort of way.

An hour after that, we were in Baltimore. Not a bad ride at all, I was sort of scared, but it was pretty quick (four hours). Any way we found her friend Amy's place rather quickly and settled in. BTW, I have to correct something from my last entry, I said that we were staying at her friend Anne's house for the weekend. We weren't, we stayed at Amy's.

Amy has a pretty cool place, not too big, but not as small as a postage stamp either. It's perfect for a single gal. We were starving, so she brought us to Canton Square and we went to a place called Nacho Mama's. Sort of a cheesy name, but the food was awesome. I had the hot wings, but I should've had the nuclear wings because they weren't that hot. Canton Square is pretty cool, there are about eight bars and the funny thing was, even though it was 2:00 on a Saturday and there wasn't a game going on, every place was packed with people just drinking beers.

It was a beautiful day outside, but people were just having a good time drinking and eating and shooting the shit. You never see that up here, it sort of felt like I was in college again.

After we drank a bit and ate, it was time to go to Johana and Brian's wedding. They are the reason why we are down here, so we made our way to Columbia, MD for the big day. It was cool, as I met a lot of Aly's friends. Including one guy who wrote this book:

Winning Secrets to Online Poker. The dude's name was Doug Frye, and he is a nice guy. I met him a year ago at a NCAA tourney party, but I didn't really talk to him until now. Very interesting, not pretensious at all. He works for a government contractor and sort of fell into the whole book thing.

Even though I'm not a huge gambler, we talked a bit about strategy and what I should look for when playing and stuff. He really was a cool shit. I also talked a bit about how to get published and what he found the most tough/frustrating about his experience as a writer.

The other few people I met was a guy named Scott White and his girlfriend (whose name I can't remember, unfortunately). Besides being super-laidback, they are professional cartoonists. So, I talked their ears off about comics, how to get stuff out there and what sort of tools to use. They were really helpful and Scott really encouraged me to just sit down and draw. He said to pick a few hours a week and just do it.

This was a great thing to hear because I've been completely slacking on it lately and I spoke to Rye about the creative process the other day and he told me the same thing. But for some reason, it stuck when Scott said it. Maybe it's because he and I are in the same boat as far as drawing after work. He said often he comes home and just wants to hang out and just chill, but he makes himself work a few hours a night.

This is his web site, check it out:

He's got a lot of awesome stuff, so give him a few hits.

The wedding went off without a hitch, and we were back in Baltimore by about 1 am. I was dead tired.


We woke up sort of late, but there is this really white trash place across the street where they have a few pit bulls. They bark all freaking day, it must drive Amy nuts. We were out of the house by about 11:30 and were on our way to Washington DC. We were seeing just the third home game of the Washington Nationals as they took on the Arizona Diamondbacks. I was really pumped for this game, I love going to new parks and just seeing what the place is like.

RFK is a dump, not as bad as the former home of the Nationals nee the Expos, Olympic Stadium, but it was a piece of crap. For one thing it's real old and in a crappy part of the city. Secondly, since the Redskins moved to Maryland, no one but the MLS DC United have played there. Thus, it's not in the best shape and the concessions were pretty crappy too. They're building a new place in about three years anyway.

No matter, we were there to watch a ball game, not compare architecture. We had fairly decent seats and the game was good. The Nats have a pretty good team with sluggers who all swung from their heals. All of them from Brad Wilkerson (who batted leadoff) to Vinny Castilla to Jose Guillien. They had the former Yankee Esteban Loiaza on the hill who pitched ok. The D'Backs had another former Yank, Brad Halsey, who looked awesome.

Whether it was because he was facing the free swinging Nats or not, Halsey was mowing them down. Unfortunately for Arizona fans, they have Bob Melvin as their manager and he has zero clue as to when to take out a pitcher. He left him in there an inning too long and Halsey lost.

As bad as Melvin is, at least he's not Frank Robinson, who for some inexplicable reason has Christian (.108 batting average) Guzman batting second. They actually walked Wilkerson to load the bases to get to him. Guzman walked.

After the game we went back to Canton Square and went to the Cladaugh bar, which they pronounce as Caladaugh. We all just started pounding beers and eating as much as we could. I had a blast. Amy is really, really cool. She works for the Baltimore Blast (an indoor soccer team) so she had a bunch of good stories. After the Cladaugh we went to a few more bars before ending up a Nacho Mama's where I had my first National Bohemian beer, or as the locals call it Natty Boh.

They have the mascot of the beer everywhere, including a huge neon sign in the downtown area. Amy said it winked, I didn't believe her, but it did. So, she won that round. Anyway here's a picture:

I thought the logo was so cool, I bought a t-shirt. We went home and I sort of passed out.


We drove home. Actually, I drove all eight hours. We were up at the crack of ass and were in the car and on the highway by 8:30 am. Again, not a bad ride. It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong, and I have two things to admit:

1. The car ride did not suck. It actually wasn't half bad. On the way home I got to see two of God's beautiful creatures bounding through the morning dew on a Maryland field. That's right, I saw two deer. That was for you, Tim.

2. When Skaus, Archie and I were in Baltimore four years ago for a Sox game, I vowed never to come again. I thought it was the worst city in the world. It is actually a lot of fun. I had a great time. I wouldn't mind going back again.

In all fairness, the time we went there was three conferences going on in the city (including a Sci-Fi fest), there were a ton of Boston people in town for the Sox/O's, there was a fire beneath the city, a chemical spill in the harbor and it was hot as balls and twice as humid. So, maybe it wasn't the best time to see the city.

When we got home, Aly and I just crashed.


Went to the Sox/Blue Jays game at Fenway, it was Bronson Arroyo vs. Roy Halladay. I think I forgot to tell you the pitching line for Opening Day last week, it was Tim Wakefield vs. Mike Mussina. It was a quick moving game, it was the seventh inning at 8:50.

Manny Ramirez hit the longest homerun I have every seen. It was a shot that had to go well over 500 feet. It came really close to bouncing on the Mass Pike. It was so high and got out of the park so fast, I didn't even see it. The Sox also got a huge dinger from David Ortiz, but they blew it in the eighth and ninth when Alan Embree and Keith Foulke blew a 3-1 lead.

Three things happened last night:

1. Nick got engaged to Debbie on Monday. He and she ran the marathon and when they both crossed the finish line, he dropped to his knee and popped the question. She said yes. They were on the news Monday night, the Globe on Tuesday and the front page of I'm happy for the old boy, Debbie makes him very happy and I know he is finally where he wants to be.

2. I lost my ID. I was in line for brews and when I went to flash the woman my license, it was gone. So, no beer for me, even though Nick tried to sneak me one and almost got tossed because of it. After the game, Ryan and I went back and retraced my steps and couldn't find anything. Today I ordered another license, literally 20 minutes later my dad called. He said that some guy found it on the T and was mailing it back to me.

3. Brownie got seats in front of us with a bunch of his friends. One of his buddies started picking on some guy in front of him because the dude was smoking. Brownie's friend rode him for three innings. Finally the game ended and this guy got up and was sort of jacked. He went over to Brownie's friend and wanted to get him out of the park so he could kick the shit out of him. Brownie's friend got nervous and all they did was jaw back and forth for about 15 minutes.

At first it was funny, but then it got boring and finally it was sad. Brownie's friend turned out to be quite the pussy. If you're going to talk shit for 45 minutes, the least you can do is back it up. He didn't.

This is quite a long blog. Tomorrow I'm going to post picks from Opening Day and RFK. Try to contain your excitement.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fenway, vacations and other junk

Originally when I envisioned this entry, I was going to post some of the pictures that I took on Monday, but fucking Comcast ruined any of those thoughts. For the second night in a row (and third of the last week) Internet service has been knocked out. What I’m going to do is write this as a Word document, email it to work tomorrow morning (when the net is back up) and up load it at work. After I come back from our mini-vacation, I’m looking into other Internet options. This is absolutely ridiculous.

As far as great days go, Monday may have been one of the greatest that I’ve ever had. I already told you a little bit about what I did that day, but after the guys (Jay, Skaus and Ryan) got here it really got moving. To start off, we drank a few beers then went to grab the train. For one reason or another it was late, which wasn’t the worst thing in the world. Why? Because we ran across this woman who was in her late 50s and completely sloshed at 12:30 in the afternoon. She was also going to the Sox game, by herself incidentally, and was packing contraband.

In order to save some cash, she was sneaking nips into the game. She showed us where they were hidden (in her bra). Then she told us about how she loves going to games by herself and last year she went to the World Series in St. Louis alone. After a while she got sort of boring, so we moved down the track.

As you can imagine, the train was completely packed with Sox fans who were all very excited to go to the old ball yard after a short winter of content. I never went to any of the Series games, but I can’t imagine a more palpable sense of excitement that you can almost touch. When the train finally dumped us at our stop it was like washing onto a sea of red and navy blue. People were everywhere, lines for even the diveyest of bars snaked around the corner. The sun was shining and people were happy, ecstatic, giddy even. Most folks had been waiting for this day for their entire lives and it was here. It was really here.

We made our way into the park about an hour early and we had some lunch, after a long winter, a Fenway sausage tastes like heaven. Add some fries and wash that all down with a beer and you’re talking edible utopia. Then it was time to go to the seats, we were in the bleachers and our seats were about as far up as you could be, row 49 out 50 rows. No matter, we could see and hear everything that was going on.

The Sox began the festivities with a retrospective of the past year, the most magical of years. Then it was time for the rings, they called out all of the 2004 Sox one by one, in order of how long they’ve been with the club. The roll call even included departed stars Derek Lowe, Dave Roberts and Ramiro Mendoza. The first two got some of the biggest cheers of the day and they all just drank it in. The last guy to get their ring was Johnny Pesky, who had been with the team in some capacity for over 60 years.

Then it was time for Pesky and Yaz to raise the 2004 World Championship banner up the flagpole. (I forgot to mention the gigantic banner that the Sox unfurled that completely eclipsed the Green Monster). After that four of Boston’s greatest winners; Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Teddy Bruschei and Richard Seymore, emerged from under the banner (which was covered by a gigantic American flag) and made their ways to the pitching mound. All four men threw out the opening pitch. Because of what happened to Bruschei over the winter (a small stroke) he got a thunderous applause too.

Speaking of applause, the funniest moment of the day is when the Yankee players were introduced. Mariano Rivera received a standing ovation. Most times this sort of ribbing would cause an athlete to scowl and grit his teeth, but Rivera was classy about the kidding and doffed his cap and showed a big smile. You have to appreciate stuff like that.

The game was a blow out, for the Sox. They beat the Yankees 8-1, as the Dean of the Sox, Tim Wakefield pitched a beauty. A funny thing happened as we struck up a conversation with the guy sitting next to us, turns out he’s a SoSHer, ibrewbeer, who came to the Fens from Delaware. He’s a hell of a guy, he was saying that the Single-A guys at Wilmington were ragging on Kevin Youkilis and the good press that he’s been getting. According to ibb, most of them see Youks as a fat singles hitter who walks now and then.

So we saw what was once only a dream, watched the Sox bludgeon the Yanks and we hung out with a cool guy and my three closest friends. All in all a great day.

There was something that I wanted to add to my Drabble bashing from Monday, and this was the most important evidence that Fagan was directly copying Homer Simpson. Around the early 90s, Ralph became addicted to donuts. Fucking donuts. Why don’t you just change his name to Homer J. and be done with it? This guy is pathetic.

I meant to write about this on Monday, but I forgot, Saturday night Aly and I went out to dinner with Brownie and Cindy. We went to Brookline’s own La Morra, which is our favorite restaurant, and we had a blast. Brownie and Cindy are a lot like Aly and me in that we really enjoy eating good food. And this place has it.

We ended up eating everything in sight and ordered ourselves a couple of bottles of very good wine. Since they took us out a few months ago, we returned the favor. Then we went to Matt Murphy’s, heard a cool band that just did instrumentals and then returned home. We didn’t think it was that late, but when you have a great time with good friends, the night just flew by. We were all a little wasted and Sunday I was feeling it.

About two weeks ago Pope John Paul II died, which set off about ten days of mourning. I felt pretty bad that the Pope died, he seemed like a good guy, though there were a few things that I disagreed with, but he seemed like a decent person. The premise of this story isn’t that the Pope died, it was a story that I read following his death that captured my attention.

There is a parish in Attleboro which a year ago planned a trip to the Vatican for last week. There was the usual pomp and circumstance that occurred with the wake and funeral of the Pontiff. St. Peter’s Square was crammed with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who wanted to pay their respects to their spiritual leader. It was an historic event, but it was so different. The question that I thought of was, if I was going on a trip such as this, would I have liked to be a part of history or would I have enjoyed just seeing the day-to-day living of the Vatican? I think I would choose the latter. One of the things that I appreciate about traveling is that I enjoy seeing how normal people of other countries normally live their lives.

I enjoy the mundane because that is what I think allows you to see how another culture lives. If I haven’t been there before, I don’t want to see a special day where people act out of the norm. For example, the times that we went to Ireland or the time I went to the Dominican Republic and Mexico, it wasn’t during a holiday (Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day), they were just regular weeks in the lives of the natives. I learned a lot by viewing the daily hum drum of the lives of the natives. When I travel, I enjoy seeing the sites, but I most enjoy seeing how people live and comparing it to my life.

I guess it goes along with me loving taking a random Wednesday off and knowing that I’m the only one who doesn’t have to go to work that day. It’s cool to have Thanksgiving or Christmas off, but everyone has those two days off. Not everyone has May 24 off, you’re special and it’s sort of like your own holiday.

Speaking of holidays, Friday Aly and I are taking a trip to Washington DC for the wedding of our friends Johanna and Brian. Friday night we’re staying with Danna and Rick in New York, Saturday is the second leg of travel and the wedding, Sunday we’re going to the Washington Nationals/ Arizona Diamondbacks game with Aly’s friend Anne (whom we are staying with) and Monday we’re returning home. Unless I write on Monday, I probably won’t be talking to you all until next Wednesday (I have a Sox/Blue Jays game on Tuesday).

So if I don’t see you until then, have a good week and good luck to anyone running the Boston Marathon.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ice Cube is a prophet

In 1993 or 1994, I can't remember, Ice Cube wrote a song about how "Today was a good day." Well, if I could rap, I would pen a song to my day today. For one thing, I didn't go to work ... long weekend. Secondly, I got to get up whenever I wanted and watched a bit of television. Then I got some breakfast (left over Chinese food) and read the paper. After that I goofed around on the net.

Skaus, Jay and Ryan should be here within the hour and then we're going to the Opening Day of the World Champion Boston Red Sox. These are huge tickets and I got them a few months ago. We have shitty seats, but I don't care, the Sox are getting their rings, running up their championship banner and are playing the Yankees. If there is a better scenario, I don't know of one. I have been literally looking forward to this since the end of October.

Originally, a bunch of us were going to take the day off and just chill out at a Fenway bar and watch the game. Obviously this is going to be much better. Damn, I can't wait. Tomorrow, or Wednesday, I'll give a full report.

There are a lot of terrible comics. The art is atrocious, the writing is poor and the joke telling is something that would make Carrot Top blanche. The one thing that these strips have is originality. There aren't many dogs like Marmaduke, sticky sweet characters were a dime a dozen 40 years ago, but Family Circus is the last vestige of that age and Garfield was once envelope pushing. Not Drabble though, take every old cliche from functional dis-we-put-the FUN-in-functional family and you'll find it in this strip by Kevin Fagan.

- Stupid older son? Check.
- Smart (genius level) middle son, with glasses? Check.
- "Cute" precocious younger daughter? Check.
- Over mothering, sassy, mom? Check.
- Wise ass cat? Yup.
- Dog? You betcha.
- Other "weird" animal that lives at the house? Uh-huh, it's a DUCK!
- Girl that is oblivious and disgusted by son, yet still hangs with him? There she is.

But the worst transgression is the father. He is a carbon copy of Homer Simpson. And not the interesting Homer, who is slow but well-meaning, the jerk ass Homer Simpson. You know the one, the guy who does stupid things that have Internet nerds (like me) scratching their heads saying, "This is stupid, Homer wouldn't do that, the writers are too fucking lazy to come up with anything resembling a plot."

The good thing for Simpsons fans is that jerk ass Homer isn't around too much, however jerk ass Drabble is. Let's see, he's losing his hair, he's fat, he's the butt of his kids' jokes, his wife doesn't respect him. Yup. Sounds like Springfield's favorite parent. And don't think that the Simpson writers haven't noticed. A few years ago a scene showed Homer reading the paper and he says, "Hey, the father from Drabble reminds me of me!"

I've been reading this strip since it first came out and the character of the father wasn't always like this. Yes, he was a bit oafish, but he wasn't clinically retarded like he is now. I think Fagan saw the popularity of Homer and just decided to make his character the same way so that readers would subconsciously feel like they're "reading" their favorite animated show.

It doesn't work. For one thing, Fagan fails to understand that the reason why people love Homer is because of the back story of the guy, the first eight or so seasons of the Simpsons were able to set a history of Homer as the lovable loser who tries to do the right thing, but through unseen circumstances fails. But in the end, it's ok because his wife and children love him because he's always trying. That's good writing, writing with warmth. Fagan can not do this. Why? I don't know, it's not easy, but he fails miserably in this regard.

So, without a built up backstory, he just makes his star a hopeless clod. No one likes a character like that, so the cartoon suffers. And that's just the main character. Like Seinfeld, where the main character was the weakest, this strip could be saved with solid stories and great supporting characters. Unfortunately for Drabble fans, Fagan is actually worse with supporting characters as he is with his main characters. To say that these are simply one-dimensional, one-joke, one-trick ponies would be a slap in the face to one-demensional, one-joke, one-trick ponies.

As dumb as the father is, his son is more stupid. The mother is shrewy bitch who doesn't have a nice word to say about anyone, and is drawn so terribly that she actually looks like her husband's grandmother. The middle son is a straight man, who's only joke is to disprove the axiom that wisdom comes with age. The daughter is uses nothing but baby malapropos like pasaghetti for spaghetti and misunderstands simple instructions. And the less said about the animals the better.

The stories revolve from Norman (the son) trying to get the "pretty girl" to notice him, Drabble calling in tips to the local radio station about traffic, Drabble being fat and trying to diet (which always provides a chance for his wife to say something sarcastic) and the old hack cartoonists favorite joke: golf.

Fagan obviously is not a talented writer, his talent must be in the art of his strip, right? Wrong. Terribly plotted, the pencils are sloppy and jammed together. Normally the latter means that there would be some sort of detail in the panel, there is minimal. Look at the first panel, there are three people jammed into that small square. The father (Ralph) is going golfing, what a fucking surprise. His loser son is going with him, though he is without clubs, and the wife is sitting in front of what looks to be a black hole reading a magazine called "Home" that has what looks like a picture of Snoopy's dog house on it.

Besides having heads that would crush their bodies, the two males have no necks, hidden by collars and bow ties (who wears a bow tie to golf) and the wife has a pencil thin neck with a strand of pearls that begin at the middle of her back and go down to her boobs. This is repeated in three of the four panels. Just sloppy.

And the worst part is that the "joke" is a reference to a song sung by Bette Midler that was popular 17 years ago. Didn't Congress issue a moratorium on making "Wind Beneath My Wings" jokes at the beginning of the 90s? Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. While not as famous as Marmaduke, Drabble may just be worse than that piece of trash.

BTW, if you want to see a great example of comics and the Internet, go to

Here artist/writer Jimmy Johnson does some artist commentary on his older strips and updates his blog every day. Great stuff. Check it out. Now, off to Fenway!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Quick entry today

It's pretty nice and I think I want to go outside and hang around instead of being stuck in the house in front of the computer. Two things to tell you from last night: I saw "Fever Pitch" and had one of the worst experiences I've ever had a restaurant. We'll go with the dinner first.

Last night, Skaus and Sara stopped by as we made plans to go to dinner and then to the movies. Since the theatre was in Fenway, we decided to eat around the park. Our first choice was too crowded, so we decided to go to Boston Billiards for a quick bite. Bad choice.

We found a table and sat down and waited about 20 minutes for a waitress to come by. This place is obviously trying to be the Fenway version of the Rack, so they squeezed as much girl into as little of clothing as possible. A lot of times the women that are in this type of uniform understand that they have to keep their customers happy in order to get good tips. This chick was a dumb as a bag of rocks.

First she gave us one menu for four people. There were also a couple of glasses of half-full beer on the table, we told her that they weren't ours and she just said, "Oh." Already we're not off to a good start. Then we found what we ordered and she walked by us at least five times over the next ten minutes. Normally this would've mildly pissed me off, but we were running late for a movie, so I called her over and told her we were ready to order and that we had a 9:15 movie to catch.

She took our order (which was a lot of food because we were all starving) and dropped it off in the kitchen. After ten minutes she gave us our beers. About 20 minutes later we asked her about our food and reminded her about the movie. She said that there was nothing she could do. Ten minutes later, I glanced at my watched and noticed that it was 8:45, we decided that we had to go. I told the girl to cancel the order, she said that the kitchen lost our food order.

I almost exploded on her, but Aly sensed that and told her that she was going to talk to the manager. She explained the situation to the manager and he was just concerned about the canceling of the food. He essentially told us to pay our bill and leave. We laid down a 20 bill for the brews, but we thought better of it and walked out, stiffing the waitress. I will never go there again.

Here's the thing, Jay and mom are both in the restaurant business, so I try and give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being busy (which it wasn't), stupid cooks (which I doubt) and just being dense (which she was, but she was really a bitch about it). The manager was the last straw, he was a real prick and it didn't seem to care that our dinner was ruined.

I'm not expecting him to give us the store for free, but I know how it goes, Jay has told me on more than one occasion that if he forgets something (like a bowl of chili or chowder), he'll give his party their apps for free, or maybe a round of drinks. It's just good business. You want people to come back to your place and small things like that help. This guy was unapologetic and rude, as was the waitress. I was thinking about writing a letter, but probably won't since we skipped on the bill.

Fuck Boston Billiards, they will never get another cent of my money again.

Following that debacle, we went to "Fever Pitch". I know, I know, I said that I would never see that movie because: Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore star in (both of them suck), I was really pissed that Fallon and Barrymore were on the field when the Sox one the World Series and I thought that the writers were going to put a lot of lame Sawx jokes, also I think the Farrelly brothers haven't made a good movie since "There's Something About Mary". So there were four strikes against the flick.

Imagine my surprise when I walked out of the theatre actually liking the movie. For months on SOSH, I've been writing about how I can't wait until this movie tanks, I wish Fallon and Barrymore the plague, etc. Looks like I'm going to have to take that all back. It was funny, the Sox parts weren't over done, the characters were sort of stereotypical, but not too bad.

The Farrellys managed to write a pretty good date flick that had a lot of baseball in it. That's kind of hard to do, but the succeeded. The things that I liked most about it was I saw a bit (maybe a more than a bit) of myself in Fallon's character, I saw some of Aly in the Barrymore role, the shots of Boston were nice and idyllic, the baseball action was lifelike (which can kill a sports movie) and it was a breezy way of spending an April evening.

One of the reasons why I think I enjoyed this flick as much as I did was because of where we were. It was shown at the Fenway AMC theater, literally a long foul from the park and it was completely sold out. The place was packed with die hard Sox fans who would cheer whenever the Sox did something good and the vibe was infectious. Maybe if I had seen the movie in New York or Boise it would have been different, but this was as close to a perfect place to see this movie as one could hope for.

Sure there were a couple of errors: the Sox didn't open up with Texas, they never had an eight-run comeback against the Yanks, there was one scene were Pokey Reese led off an inning with a double then was the next guy up (he's fast, but not that fast), they were playing the Rangers in one scene and the PA announced that Devil Ray Rocco Baldeli was up. Also, Fallon always found a parking spot right in front of her place in the South End (I read William Goldman's book about script writing, so I understand this) and he was a teacher at East Boston High School, but could afford Sox season tickets and a large place in the North End.

Some of those errors are a little nit-picky, but all-in-all this was an enjoyable movie. The greatest movie I've ever seen? Definitely not, but it wasn't a waste of time or money. I really wonder how it will do nation wide where people don't give a shit (or hate) the Sox?

BTW, this morning and yesterday we finished two of our bigger wedding chores: we got the band and cake. Thank god. The band is called BC and Company, who we saw last Sunday and the cake is from Kondeiter Meister in Brookline. Both great choices. I (as well as Aly) am very happy about our two selections.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Musings on starting 0-2

I have to keep telling myself that it's only the first two games of the season and that there are 160 left, but damn it, this sucks. The last time we spoke, the Sox were about to take on the Yankees and all was right with the world, the sun was shining, the grass was poking up from a long winter's hibernation and people were pumped for the games to begin.

On Sunday, if I passed four people in the street, three were wearing Red Sox hats. Now, who knows, but which is worse: the listless way they lost on Sunday (no fire, no passion) or the craptastic way they lost today (bottom of the ninth walk off dinger by Jeter after Varitek tied it in the ninth of Rivera). I'd have to say today's type of game always hurts more. The ironic thing is that both team captains hit their homers off the other team's top closer in the ninth. Wow. How fascinating.

I remember when I was a senior in high school and our team was kicking ass, we were like 8-2 and just needed to win a few more out of the next ten to make the tournament, we had a game like the one the Sox had today. Our manager, former AHS vice principal Bill Chambers, left the pitcher in way too long. The kid was a sophmore and he absolutely grooved one to the second best player in the league (we were playing first place Hamilton-Wenham) and the kid crushed it. Game over. After that we had zero confidence in our skipper and we went on to lose eight of the last ten, in bad fashion.

Postscript on that game, I was so pissed we lost, I forgot my glove on the bench. The next day I looked for it and it was gone. Thanks a lot, Chambers.

I don't expect the Sox to lose eight out of ten, but these games are like punches in the nuts. Sometimes you just don't recover.

I got a few emails about my cartoon criticisms, so I'll keep doing it. This one will be about everyone's favorite punching bag, The Family Circus:

First off, this is a strip from June of last year. For some stupid reason, the King Features Syndicate home page won't let you upload the strips to a blog. Totally blows too, because today's was actually the first one in years that made me sort of chuckle. Billy and Jeffy were in bunk beds and Jeffy (who was in the bottom bunk) slammed his head onto the top bunk. Billy, looks down and says, "That's why they call them bonk beds."

Why did I laugh at this stupid strip? Mostly because I'm a bit deranged, but something cracked me up about seeing Billy taking such joy in Jeffy's obvious injury.

This is an example of a good Family Circus. Every family has foibles and sometimes brothers are mean to their younger siblings. Not everyone is walking around their neighborhoods leaving dotted lines and saying "Not Me" or "Ida Know" when they get busted for breaking something. Not everyone has a crazy-assed grandmother who spouts crappy, churchy cliches and talking to her long dead husband.

If Bil Keane stuck to these sort of subjects, he wouldn't be so widely ragged on. Here's the thing about Keane, for one he's a tremendous artist. In the above panel, look at how he was able to cram so much detail into such a small place. That actually looks like someone's kitchen. You can almost feel the Formica. And the spatial relations are just right too, not to mention the looks on the faces of the characters.

Like I said, he really does a hell of a job illustrating all of those circles and being witty enough to have jut one sentence be the "punchline" of the strip. That's a hard thing to master. For the most part people use the same formula: set up, comeback from the straight man, punchline. Not Keane, the straightman's query is done in the facial reaction, which is sort of a tough trick to pull off day after day after day.

This is a bad example up top because the punchline is so stupid that it doesn't even make sense. I think Dolly meant to say "recipe" instead of "menu", but I can't tell whether Keane doesn't have a thesaurus, is simply going senile or if that is the joke. Because it seems to me that the joke of the strip is that scrambled eggs are so easy to make that she doesn't have to be shown or told how to do it. I must say that the majority of Dolly-centric strips are normally the most retarded ones of the bunch, which is saying something. I'm not sure whether this is because I'm a man and can relate more to the Billy, Jeffy, PJ stories or whether Dolly is just a moron. If there are any woman reading 19Thoughts, let me know if you like Dolly better than the brothers. And by brothers, I mean Billy, Jeffy and PJ, not the one black kid who hangs out with the rest of the crew.

Another thing about Keane, I don't think he gives two shits about whether he's popular or not with anyone above five or below 70, he knows his audience: little kids and grandparents. Little kids like the strip because it's about kids. Even if it's lame, it least it's about someone your own age. Grandparents like the strip because they think that that is the way their grandchildren really act: naive, full of wonder and hopelessly white bread.

So while it's foolish for me to make fun of Family Circus, the fact is this: the comic has over stayed its welcome. Like Marmaduke and Garfield, Family Circus just has nothing to say. The sad part is, I doubt that Bil Keane is even writing the strip any more. I was doing some research online and found that his son (named Jeffy) inks the cartoons, at least according to published reports. I have noticed though, that there is a distinct difference in the message behind FC.

It has always been syrupy enough to give you diabetes, but there is more of a Christian push behind it now. It was once very secular, very kids-cutesy sort of drivel, but Grandma seems to be quoting scripture a lot more and Dolly is wondering more about God and His plans. Whether the Keanes are happy that their boy Bush is in the White House for more years (and make no mistake about it, these dudes are Republicans) or whether Bil Keane (if he is writing it still) is preparing to meet his maker, the Family Circus reads like the Weekly Reader for the Christian Right.

Which, incidentally, is probably the only thing those bastards don't complain about.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


In about one hour and three minutes, for the first time in 86 years, the Boston Red Sox will be defending this:

I know I said that I'd do my Sox preview yesterday, but the time change and drinking until 3 am at Byrnie and Keri's house did me in. We had a fun time on Friday night, Andrew and Ryan came over and he brought Liam and Aidan. We had a ball running around with them, drinking beers, playing cards, eating pizza. Good time. I didn't lose any money in cards, but I didn't win any either. Not too shabby.

Saturday Aly and I woke up at the Byrnes and went to two cake tastings and then over to Crate and Barrell where we did more registering. Fun stuff. Lots of fun. Then we made a meal, watched "Ray" (which was very good) and then crashed out. Sunday, we journeyed to Millford where we watched a wedding band (they were good) and bought a coffee table.

But everything is a prelude to the game tonight. I'm continuing with my ritual, which I started in college in 1993, of having three hot dogs, potato chips and beer while watching the game. Last year I did it and they won the Series. We won't count the previous 12 years that I performed the same feats.

As far as the Sox go, I'm a bit nervous. They actually improved their line up when they added shortstop Edgar Renteria from the Cardinals and their bullpen is top notch with Matt Mantei, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree and Mike Myers, but their starting pitching scares me.

Their opening rotation of Curt Schilling (hurt), David Wells (42 years old), Matt Clement (don't know what to expect), Tim Wakefield (knuckler) and Bronson Arroyo (good last year, but what can we count on this year) is suspect. There are so many things that can break badly for the Sox. What if Wakefield, Schilling and Wells act their age? What if Clement can't handle Boston? What if Arroyo was a one-year-wonder? What if Wade Miller doesn't come back from elbow surgery and sucks?

I have the utmost confidence in the starting lineup and the bullpen, but these questions have me wondering what kind of year we'll have if they go unanswered. There are a few things that calm me a bit. One, Theo Epstein knows exactly what he's doing. He's reaching Belichickian status with me where I don't question his moves anymore. For the most part, he's kicking ass. Two, the Sox will not end the year with that staff. They have the prospects in their system to get a stud, and unlike the Yankees, they make their big splashes in July and August, rather than January and February.

Speaking of the Yankees, that's who the Sox open up with tonight. And while many people are predicting great things for the Bronx Bombers, they have a lot of questions too: what happens if Randy Johnson's back flares up? Are Carl Pavano (who gave up one hit per inning) and Jarret Wright (released by the Padres two years ago) ready for the big stage? Will their defense improve (Bernie Williams, Tony Womack and Derek Jeter are NOT good up the middle players, which could cause the staff to throw more pitches)? Will they get any production out of centerfield, DH, first base and second base?

Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Hediki Matsui, Gary Sheffield and Jorge Posada are top notch hitters, but the other four positions are questionable. They certainly don't stack up to the Sox:

So as you can see, I think that the Sox have about the best lineup in the American League, while the Yanks are right up there. It wasn't so clear cut (especially at first, shortstop and catcher), but I thought of who comes up big in bigger situations, who I'd rather have on my team, stuff like that. Is it the most scientific way of doing stuff? Nope, but it's my Blog.

And I didn't go with the starters and bullpen because New York would win in the former, while Boston goes with the latter. I think Mariano Rivera (who's 35!) is starting to break down a bit and is afflicted with the same disease that Pedro had when facing the Yanks.

This is going to be a great year of baseball and I can't wait, so let's play ball!