Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This Is More Like It

Last week you got a glimpse at how unoriginal I can be, now check out the first real Byron Magrane original. It's a play on perceived notions. Our hero, Eddie thinks he's the next Dominican slugging superstar. His buddy, Kurt, shows him otherwise.

I think at one time or another everyone has delusions of grandeur and for the most part they always run contrary to another's same delusions. No matter whom you are, you're not going to win every single time. That's just the way life is sometimes.

There are two things that I really like about this strip, the chair (which is the exact same chair that I'm sitting next to now) and the whole Wiffle Ball scene. Charlie Brown has football, Dagwood has golf, Eddie Verde is going to have Wiffle Ball.

BTW, if you happened to have found this site without seeing the strip, you can go to: http://www.room19comics.com

Why Wiffle Ball? Quite simply it's the greatest game ever invented. It's sort of like one-on-one hoops, except with baseball. You don't have to worry about breaking stuff, finding 18 guys, etc. You and a buddy can just grab a yellow bat, a couple of balls and a chair and you're ready to go.

I still try and get a couple of games in every summer, but with work, relationships, and other real-life stuff, it gets harder and harder to squeeze in a few hours. My apex was the late 90s, I had my fastball flying, my knuckler knuckling and I could hit the ball a mile.

My main protagonist in this sport of kings was none other than Steve Brown. He had the patience and batting eye of Tony Gwynn, so he was a tough man to strike out and oftentimes he'd foul off pitch after pitch after pitch until he found one that he loved.

Now that he lives in Waltham, we don't play as much as we used to, but throw us back on the field and you'll see some stars shine.

BTW, I was originally going to have Kurt say "Pedro Martinez" instead of Roger Clemens, but I wrote this around the time when Clemens got his sixth Cy Young and I wanted to send a shout out to the old man, I don't hate him nearly as much as I did when he was a Yankee.

Speaking of baseball and Brownie, last night he and I, and Aly and Cindy took in a game between the Sox and the Indians. They lost 7-0 as Bronson Arroyo was the recipient of some bad luck. It wouldn't have mattered if he had all the luck in the world, because Kevin Millwood was mowing the Sox down. That ended their seven game win streak.

Tonight the Sox gave up at least five runs in the ninth and are losing (and have probably lost to the Indians) 12-8. Foulkin' Foulke. Unbelievable.

Speaking of streaks, I had four and a half Fenway Franks last night. Needless to say, I felt like total dog shit last night and today.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Reviews from the weekend

This weekend was a scorchah! At least that's what they've been saying around here, as yesterday the temperature reached 97 degrees. Even thought it was hot out, I just think back to the miserable weather we had from November through March. Cold every single day. Not even just a wee bit nipply, it was a tongue-frozen-to-the-flag-pole-type cold every freaking day.

So two months full of hot weather is fine by me.

Not much happened this weekend, got a lot of wedding crap done, did eight loads of laundry at the future parents-in-law's place, saw Jeff Baglioni's new house (real nice) and went to Nick and Debbie's bridal party get together. They're getting hitched a year from now (on my birthday, in fact) and they wanted everyone involved in the wedding to have a chance to hang out a bit and get to know one another.

It was fun, the food was plentiful and catered (always a bonus), the Sox were on (they won) and they had plenty of beer. A nice day.

Last night we were at Jeff's. He's bought a place in Franklin that's really nice and quite large. It's so big in fact, that there are a few rooms that are bare. Not a bad problem to have. He said that he likes having a home, but he gets sort of lonely coming home to an empty house. I agree with him because while you'd be able to get a bunch of stuff done, it would suck to always watch a game or a movie or a cool show by yourself.

To remedy that, he's thinking about getting a roommate.

I finished another book last week, this was a good one:

As you can tell from the cover (yes Virginia, there are actually times when you can tell a book from its cover) this book is about the 2004 seasons of the Red Sox and the Yankees. It was written by beat writers Tony Massarotti and John Harper, which means that this is a more in-depth story of the season from two guys who was around the team from Spring Training through the last game of the World Series.

First off, a pledge, this is the last thing that I buy about the 2004 Sox. I have at least four magazines, two books, two DVDs, three shirts, a cap and just about every newspaper from October. That's it, I'm bled dry. No more ... though I hear next month they're releaseing a DVD set that has every single game from the playoffs. If anyone is reading this that wants to buy me a wedding or birthday gift, that would be the one.

Short story, I liked this book a lot. Maz really gets into the Sox/Yanks rivalry. He grew up in Waltham and went to Tufts, he's a Massachusetts guy through and through, so he takes it pretty personally when a New York writer rips on the Sox. I found this to be the most shocking part of the book because the prevailing "wisdom" through out Internet-land is that Tony Maz hates the Sox. That's just not true. In fact there are times in the book when he goes overboard defending the Sox.

His passion for the team that he covers is apparent, while Harper's is more detached, I don't want to say more professional, but it's more hardened, like he's seen everything before. I don't think that's necessarily a good thing because at times he writes as if he's bored by the events occuring to each team. I don't know whether it's because I'm a fan of the Sox, but I felt more excited, more disapointed, more pissed, more jubilant when I was reading Maz' chapters (the book was written in a fashion that every other chapter, one of the author's would take over.)

Not only did Maz' chapters have more energy, but they were longer too. He set up the scenes, gave the Boston view and then Harper would come in and give the New York perspective. Maybe because Maz led off, Harper was at a disadvantage, but there were times when it just seemed that he was a bit disinterested.

The one complaint I had about the tome was that for all of the detail they went into each Yankee/Red Sox series, they glossed over the rest of the series. That's a minor point however, because unlike the Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan trainwreck, these two guys really did a great job of getting the reader new information. Especially on the Jeter/ARod relationship, what some of the Sox really thought about Curt Schilling and on what makes Steinbrenner and Luchino tick.

Obviously I haven't read all 27 books that came out about the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox (I love writing that, BTW) but I find it hard to imagine another book even coming close to matching the information found in these pages.

After doing some homework on Friday night, I had to make a poster about summer in Boston using images, Aly and I went to the movies.

Anyhow, we went to Kendall Square Cinemas in Cambridge to check out this flick that we both got wind of, "Miysterious Skin". Not a good choice. The movie and acting itself was ok, but the plot was terrible, Aly almost puked. In a nutshell, these two eight-year-olds are sexually abused by their baseball coach (who looked a lot like Jeff Kent) when they grew up they went in two different directions. One became a gay hustler, the other was convinced that he was abducted by aliens.

The kid who turned out to be a gay hustler was played by the kid from "Third Rock from the Sun" Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you see this movie, you'll never look at this guy the same way again. The way I felt after this movie was the way I felt after seeing "Kids" or "Saving Private Ryan". The sex scenes were as graphic (and all pretty much gay) as any that I've ever seen and there were times when I had to remind myself that this was "only a movie".

After having two days to think this over, the one thing that I can say is that it did for gay sex scenes what "Pulp Fiction" and "Resevoir Dogs" did for violence. It was that disturbing. I would probably never see this flick again, but it brought the viewer into the world of the abused and the confused.

The major problem that I had was that there was no real resolution to the story. I have a feeling that the screen writer left it that way purposely. While I did not expect a happy ending, that would've been a HUGE copout, but I wanted some sort of closure. Anything. You left the characters the same way as you found them.

For most part, the acting was top notch. Levitt had to work hard to make himself believable as a street smart (for Kansas anyway) street hustler, and he did a terrific job. Brady Corbet, who played the alien-obsessed other victim of the baseball coach (Bill Sage, BTW), did a tremendous job as well. And to be honest, while Levitt's part had more heavy lifting, Corbet had to be believably niave and he pulled it off.

Michelle Trachtenberg (Dawn from Buffy) wasn't as great as her male counterparts. She was more annoying than anything else as she was supposed to be the moral compass of the flick and at that she failed badly. Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe from 24) was an interesting choice for Corbet's UFO ally.

All in all, it was well acted, profoundly disturbing and an all around ok flick, though one that I'll never see again.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I officially opened Room19, sent out about 50 emails (to friends) and received a bunch of compliments and encouragements, which was really nice. So now I'm done talking about the comic strip until next week. I'm going back to the regularly scheduled Blog update, which may or may not be a good thing.

I am actually home right now because I have to work at another conference today, this time it's at SeaPort Hotel in Boston and it's for AUPHA. Don't ask me what that acronym means because I don't know. It's a three-day show, but I only have to go for one, which rules. I have a feeling that this show is going to suck, so the less time I'm there, the better.

Besides being a conference day, it's also Aly's birthday. She's 28-years-old today, just two more years and she joins the 30-year-old club. I got snapped her a picture (blown up of course) of her favorite scene in Boston, some earrings and a Washington Nationals hat. We're also going out for sushi tonight, which will probably become something of a tradition. I don't like the stuff, but she loves it, so on her birthday we do what she wants. It's only fair.

Not much else is going on, SoSH doesn't seem to be up, so there goes about half of my readership, this past weekend, Aly and I hung out with Ryan and Kristen in Newburyport, went to Anthony's birthday party at Lir (a bar in Boston) and hung out in Amesbury with my parents for father's day.

By now you can probably tell that I have zero to write about and am just throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall to see if it sticks. Unfortunately, not much is happening. So instead of making you read more boring, pointless crap, I'm going to stop.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Presenting Room 19 Comics

It's up.

After months of hype, talk and other crap, I finally got my comics on line. And the cool thing is, I can have my blog as part of it all. I'm really pumped about that.

In any case, this is the first edition of Room 19 Comics, found ironically enough at www.room19comics.com. Let me know what you think.

Every Wednesday, I will be updating the comic site and I'm going to do a bit of explaining of the strip, though it should be able to stand on its own. For example, this strip is a direct rip off of the very first Peanuts cartoon. Check it out here:

Probably not the best way to start out a new career, but I truly was inspired by the best, and I noted that when I said thanks to Charles "Sparky" Shultz in the bottom of the first panel. My hope is that the overall tone of this strip will mirror Shultz' character's mellancholoy of the first few decades or so of Peanuts.

A lot of people hear "Peanuts" and they think Charlie Brown, Snoopy, greeting cards, stuff like that, but before it was licensed, it was a pretty ground breaking strip. In the past, kid strips were all about goofy little problems, such as sharing an ice cream cone or wondering if the tooth fairy will leave you enough cash for your back molar.

Shultz turned this whole idea on its ear by making Charlie Brown and his gang like little adults. They had worries, pathos and insecurities that probably made adults bristle when they first read it. And that's why the strip became so popular. If you ever get the chance pick up the first two years of the Peanuts cartoon, it's in hardback form and there's a forward by John Updike. It's excellent stuff.

Am I saying that my cartoon is going to equal Peanuts in popularity or brilliance? God, I hope so, but it's not going to happen right away. With this web site finally up and running, I am now forcing myself to be more responsible for my creation. If I miss a week, it's my fault now. I have all of the tools and knowledge, it's up to me to make it work. And I will.

So that's where I am, I hope that you enjoy the strips and keep coming back. There's going to be some bumps along the road, but if you stick with me, I'll get better and I promise you'll like the cartoon more too. You can access my Blog on the site (it will be updated every time I update my Blog) and if you feel like it you can also email me. I will also be posting more links soon, so if you have a couple, feel free to send them over.

The one last thing I have to do is offer big thanks to two people: Nick Giordano for putting this whole thing together, on his own time he helped me take a vague idea in my head and transform it into a tangible site. As you can tell, he's done awesome work. Really, it's tremendous. You can check out his site here: www.giordanodesigns.com

Also, I want to thank Aly for pushing me to do this. While the mind was often willing, the flesh was weak, and I do need a kick in the ass on more than one occasion. Thank you very much for providing the inspiration.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

108th Post Spectacular!

I don't know about spectacular, but I do have a bit of news. Next week, I will finally have my web comic up and running. Nick is supposed to come over on Monday and help me put it up.

I feel conflicted about this:

On one hand I'm really pumped to do this, I've been talking about it for about nine months (it feels like I'm finally having my baby) and this is my first major step on the road to being a real cartoonist.

But on the other hand, it's real. In other words, I can't be fucking around any more and blowing it off. I really have to do it. No more, I'll do it on Saturday or I want to watch the Sox. I have to buckle down and work. And with school, the wedding work, and real life I'm not going to have a lot of time to just dick around.

That may mean that some of my blogging time may be cut back. I know you will all survive, but that's the way it may have to be for a bit. Not sure about that though, I'm sort of just thinking out loud.

Tuesday's class was pretty good, we started our Photoshop class and the professor looks exactly like Larry David from "Curb Your Enthusiasm". I mean exactly. He also talks a bit like him and acts like him. Every time he would open his mouth, I thought he was going to say, "Are you my caucasian? Are you my caucasian?" or "Fuck Huuuuuuuuuuuuugh."

I love that show. When Aly and I cancelled HBO last month, I knew that was the show I was going to miss most, even though there hasn't been a new episode in over a year. That's amazing, how can there not be a new show in over a year? Especially with a program like this? It's well received, the buzz around it is tremendous. I guess Larry David just works when he feels like it.

Must be nice.

Went to the Sox game on Monday night. They played the Reds in Fenway for the first time since 1975 and they won. Eric Milton got his ass handed to him, giving up another couple of homers, including one from Manny that probably shouldn't have been one. Ramirez lofted one towards Pesky's pole and Reds rightfielder Wily Mo Pena went over to make the catch, and the ball was actually in his glove for about three seconds. Then he hit the wall and the ball popped out of his glove. The ump signaled a homer and Manny had his 13th and Matt Clement improved to 7-1.

Before the game, the Sox P.R. staff decided that it would be a good idea to rename the left field foul pole the Pudge Pole after Carlton Fisk's famous dinger in game six of the 1975 series. The Sox haven't really been swinging and missing, but this was a terrible idea. The reason why the name Pesky Pole is so revered is because it just happened. You can't force this kind of manufactured nostalgia on Bostonians (or really anyone in the Northeast) because most of us have a cyncial streak a mile wide and our bullshit detector is finally tuned. This was definitely bullshit.

I finished this book yesterday:

The skinny: I liked it. I didn't love it, but I liked it. I think that if I read this book prior to "DaVinci Code" I would've liked it much more. The reason, to me this was a carbon copy of his previous book (or vice versa).

Essentially, they are the same thing. Both of them take place in less than a day; both of them have a strong, foreign bad guy being manipulated by a powerful, shadowy figure; both have surprise endings (which were actually quite good) as well as other very similar plot points.

Another thing that sort of bugged me was how obvious it was that Robert Langdon was really how Dan Brown sees himself, a dashing, brilliant, ladies-man adventurer. Which is fine, I'm all about literaryly stroking your ego, but in this book, it was way over the top. And I sound like a complete hypocrite, because when I write fiction and use myself as the main character (under a pseudonym of course) I make myself sound and act way cooler than I really am, but this was a bit much.

And Brown is terrible at writing sexy scenes. These were uncomfortable at best, clunky and plodding at worst.

Having said all of that, I did like it. No one will ever confuse this with the great works of the last 500 years, but I do think that Brown has a talent for writing page turners. I enjoy that he gets straight into the action, no fucking around. Bang, first page, someone dies. Within five pages, Langdon gets involved and it goes on from there.

Like the "DaVinci Code", it's obvious Langdon knows his shit, so while in actuality you are reading a simple paperback mystery, you feel a bit smart because you're reading about high felutin' stuff like art and architecture. In his acknowledgements, Brown said that he met with the Pope in order to get info about every day life in the Vatican and it shows, he's a hell of a reporter.

Overall, this was a good read and it captured my attention. Good for you, Mr. Brown.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Quit hasseling me, I've been busy

The title is a bit misleading as no one has been hasseling me about writing in the old blog, but I like the inflation of the ego. During the last two weeks, things have actually picked up to the point that I am actually starting to get a life. I'll let you know about what's been going on as well as a nice essay on the greatest player to ever wear the number eight.

I'm going to go in reverse chronological order.

* Last night we went to Jim and Sarah's housewarming party. And the emphesis was on warm. It had to be about 90 degrees yesterday (and today) and tomorrow is supposed to be 95. Thanks for spring, Mother Nature. Seriously, it went from 40 degrees to 85 in about three days. What the fuck?

In any instance, it was fun over Jim and Sarah's. They have a really awesome house, one that they can stay in for the rest of their lives. Three bedrooms, in a nice town, pretty sizable back yard. They're lucky. Aly and I saw Reddish, Julie, Tom and their baby Katherine. It's been a long time since I saw the last two, so it was cool to catch up. We hung out there for a bit, ate a lot of crackers and cheese, nachos and drank some beer.

On the way home, I didn't really feel very well. I felt like the point I get when I get really drunk and I'm about to pass out. This was odd because I had literally one beer. I think the lack of food (it was about 9:00 and all I had was the cheese, nachos and a salad for lunch) and the heat. I parked the car and walked the mile home, but I am really surprised at how I got there. I was dripping in sweat and it felt like I was sleep walking.

I laid down for a bit, drank a gallon of water and ate some food and felt better. But this had never happened to me before.

* Saturday morning, Aly and I cleared one of the last wedding hurdles: precana. This actually wasn't too bad. We had to go to the Paul Center near the Boston Common. According to the flyer we were originally given class started at 9:30 and we were to get out at 4:00 and they invited us to stick around for Mass at 6:00. So, we thought that we'd be there until 7:00 or so.

Because the T was closed, we had to drive. The normal way we'd go (Storrow Dr.) was closed as well, so we had to go this circuitous route that took about 45 minutes, so we got in there about 20 minutes late. The good thing is that a bunch of other people were all messed up too, so everything started around 10:00. Then the married couple told everyone that they had to leave at 12:30, so the program was being shortened to 2:00. And we had an hour for lunch.

Basically it was three hours. Not too bad. The overall program was cool, it was all talk about finances, sex, kids, shit like that. Aly and I were able to do pretty well on our sheets because we've talked about this stuff ad nauseum. I wouldn't call it a waste of time, but these are all things that you should talk about when you think about getting married.

* Friday I got into a brawl with my landlord. Actually, I should ammend that, our apartment manager. Thursday night we got a letter saying that our rent is being raised $200 per month. I was livid. Here are the reasons why I'm pissed (besides the money):

- She told us in February, when we wanted to sign a year and a half lease, that she wasn't going to raise the rent.
- We saved her $1,000 in April. Basically, she sent us a signed contract that said we didn't have to pay our April rent. When I brought that to her attention, she was telling us how she made a huge mistake, blah, blah. Naturally we didn't want to screw her, so we told her to send us a new contract.
- The Brookline Board of Health has been here three times because of trash.
- There is mold on bedroom ceiling.
- She promised to fix the closet door, she hasn't.
- The grounds in front of our door are a mess.

I told her all of this and she was like, "Well, it's not my fault. I don't control the rent." So I asked her how she could promise us not to increase the rent in February and then tell us in June that she has no control over anything. I was pissed, I really went at her with everything I had: anger, disappointment, everything. She said that she'd call me back, and she did on Saturday. I'm not going to call her until Monday.

* Thursday I went into Boston for the American Physical Therapy Association conference. Pretty standard stuff. The one bummer was that the Scientology people weren't around. I really wanted a stress test.

* I started my first classes on Tuesday. It was just a review of Mac computing. Pretty easy stuff. We also started going over Photoshop. I think I'm really going to love doing this stuff. Also, my work is giving me $2,000 towards school instead of $1,000. I'm really pumped about that, HCPro isn't that bad of a place to work. I'm going to try and incorporate

* This man was elected to Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday:

When I began my formative sports years, there were three all-time Kings of Sport for me: Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan and Cam Neely. Bo and Jordan were superb athletes who played in other towns far away from Amesbury. I was lucky if I got to see them 10 times a year, mostly I read about them in Sports Illustrated.

But Cam Neely played in Boston, I was able to watch him every other day from October through May, and sometimes into June. Unlike the previous two athletes, Cam wasn't born with athleticism, he worked very hard at everything. When the Bruins stole him and a draft pick (which turned out to be Glen Wesley) from the Vancouver Canucks for Barry Pederson, everyone said that he was nothing but a bruiser, and they were right.

Neely loved to muck it up. No one was too tough for Cam, and I don't remember him every losing a fight. And he wouldn't just beat people up, he'd kick the shit out of them, and he'd take all the pieces of crap like Claude Lemiuex and just destroy them. Then one off-season Neely decided to work his ass off and turn himself into a goal scorer.

And what a goal sniper he was, in 1994 he scored 50 goals in 49 games and was the first true hockey power forward hanging out at the crease, getting his ass kicked by goalies and defenseman before banging home a rebound (usually a Ray Bourque slapper). He wasn't all brute strength either. I can remember one game against the Ottawa Senators when he was on a break away and did a 360 faking the goalie out of his jock and nailing a top shelfer.

He was magic on skates. He really was.

Then in 1990, Penguins goon Ulf Samuelson cheap shotted Neely messing up his hip. Countless months of therapy were done so Neely could step on the ice and play, but he was never up to his original level and retired in 1986 after 13 seasons. Here's a cool picture (thanks Dirt Dogs) of Neely beating the crap out of Ulf.

In his retirement he has worked tirelessly to battle cancer, but to me he will always be the greatest hockey player I've ever seen. Some will have more talent, but never more tenacity and a will to win. Ask any 30-year-old Massachusetts guy their favorite hockey player and most of them will say Cam Neely.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reason one to hate Marblehead and other things

In the interest of fairness, before I begin this post, I have to divulge that I've worked in Marblehead for almost five years and have never really felt comfortable in the town since day one. Nobody has really said anything, but any time you go into a store or restaurant the locals always give you an attitude that says, "We know that you don't live here, so eat (or buy whatever) and get the hell out."

Yesterday I was in the local Richdale and there were a few kids in there and two guys probably in their mid 50s or so (maybe a shade older). I was getting a soda and some chips in the back of the store when one of the old guys just starts yelling at the clerk. "How can you serve these kids in here? Who the hell do you think you are? Why aren't you calling the school? You're a disgrace."

He then left leaving the clerk, the kids and the rest of the customers perplexed. I know the clerk a bit, enough to say hello and ask how he's doing, so I didn't feel weird to ask him what had just happened. He said that the guy just started screaming at him to call the school on the teens in the store because "there is no open campus."

I asked him why the guy did that and he told me that he thought it was because of his skin color. The clerk is either Indian or Pakistani, yes the Simpsons cliche of Apu plays out albeit without the robberies, and he was getting upset as he explained what happened.

"If I was your color or the color of the kids, I'd hear nothing. But that guy thinks because I look like I do, he can give me a hard time. And this isn't the first time it happened."

I truly felt sorry for him, because as much as I think I get the evil eye when I'm buying stuff in the down town area, this guy must get it ten times worse. And when you think about it, what the fuck does Marblehead have to be so damn smarmy about?

Yes, they have a nice stretch of ocean and beach, but they aren't Cape Cod or the Hamptons. They're in the middle of a blue-collar ring arond the town, boardering on Salem and Peabody and parts of Swampscott. Never mind the fact that they're within ten miles of Revere, Lynn and Everett. Their biggest hero, cyclist Tyler Hamilton, is a cheat who should probably give back his Olympic medal, which he won with the help of blood doping and Lance Armstrong not entering the games.

The guy who mans Richdale probably works 14 hours a day, every day and this isn't an easy job, yet here is a guy in his 50s on a Tuesday afternoon yelling at him that he should "do his job". Unbelievable. The day that I leave my job, I'll leave Marblehead for good and never return.

Today wasn't a bad day at all, I worked half a day and then had to be in Boston to set up for the American Physical Therapy Association show at the Hynes Convention Center. I came home around 1:30 ate some grub, did a little work on the computer and then went in to town.

I had to go into the Hynes T stop on the way home and saw that the good people of Scientology have set up a booth to get people to try and convert to their way of thinking through "Free Stress Tests!" If all of the Scientologists weren't busy with converts, I was seriously considering going over and seeing what kind of spiel they sing in order to get someone to come to their side.

Their man, L. Ron Hubbard, was a frustrated sci-fi writer before he came up with Dianetics, the cornerstone of the religion. Why someone would place their faith (and money) into his hands, I have no idea. Maybe tomorrow I will find out.

Also coming tomorrow, my initial reaction to the first week of class and some thoughts on recent comic strips. Peace.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Aquaman says, "KISS off!"

The other day I got an email in my Yahoo! account, I'll let you read it.

Dear Douchebag,

Ever since my trial, I've been trying to prove to the surface world that I'm a nice guy. I really am, I don't know why they fuck none of you shitsmellers will believe me. In any event, to prove that I'm a good guy, I want to tell your reader (or is it readers? I forget. Ha, just joking.) about the normal things I do. Let me do it, or I will smash your house boat. And if you don't have one, I'll buy you one, wait until you get settled on it and the smash the crap out of it.


With the letter, I guess I have no choice but to let the Crowned Price of the Deep have his say.

Hi everyone, it's me, your old buddy Aquaman here, sitting in my deep sea lair writing about the coolest night I've ever had. Aqualad and I (see our pictures above this paragraph!) were able to get two tickets to the greatest rock concert ever ... KISS! Yes, THE Kiss. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley (sort of) all live and in person on stage in front of us.

I had Aqualad wait in line for three days, even though he didn't have to camp out I thought that he should, it will teach the boy persistence and he picked up the duckets. Two sweet seats, sort of far back, but close enough so that we can hear the best band ever.

Check out this pic I nabbed with my camera, Paul (who is my favorite) is poutingly telling us that we drive him wild, but he drives us crazy! LOL!

Anyway the day of the concert, Aqualad and I jumped on our seahorses, filled up the cooler with Zimas for AL and fuzzy navel ingredients for me and made our way to the fair grounds. Luckily, it was near an inlet, so we can hitch up our horses and then start tailgating.

Aqualad is a puss and doesn't really keep up with Kiss that much, so he was mad when I told him that Mark St. John or Bruce Kulick weren't going to be there. I also told him that his Vinnie Vincent makeup that he painted on his face is going to look a little stupid since he was fired from the band 20 years ago. "Well, I hope that they play something from 'Crazy Nights' or 'Hot in the Shade'," he said. I just had to laugh, because I knew he was going to die, (when he figured out that they won't be playing anything from those albums).

After the four-hour ride--honestly the Aquascooter would've been better for this 2 mile trek--we were ready for some frosty beverages. We picked a spot next to two hot chicks and Aqualad mixed my drink while I stepped to two gals.

"Ladies," I said, by the way, I was wearing Paul Stanley makeup, so I knew I had a good shot to get some trim. "The Starchild is here!"

They probably didn't realize that I was a SuperFriend because they just looked at me and laughed. "Paul Stanley is a fag," one of them said after blowing smoke from a Marlboro Red in my face. "And you better get out of here before our boyfriends come back from the Portapotty. They'll kick your ass just for looking at us."

"Baby, aren't you feeling good? Because baby I am feeling NICE," I said hoping that quoting a key KISS lyric would get them in the mood. "My friend here has just finished making me a strong Fuzzy Navel and he has a few Zimas if you all care to par-tay."

For some reason, this made the big-haired, acid washed jeans ladies of the night laugh even more. "Fuzzy navels? Zimas? I ain't had that shit since 'Smashes, Thrashes and Hits' came out. You really must be gay," said the blonde one as she flung a lit cigarette at me.

Luckily for her, I had just poured four Fuzzy Navels into my KISS beer bong as she did this, and was able to deftly avoid it. Despite some interference, the old AM is still able to pound the booze.

"You are obviously whores and the StarChild and the Wizard (as Vinnie Vincent was called) will not be quaffing libations with you pasty faced bitches," I said.

All of a sudden I felt a large hand on my shoulder, their boyfriends had returned in time to hear my slanderous putdown. "Who you calling a bitch, bitch?"

Remembering that I had to be nice, I tried to talk my way out of this mess.

"Sorry, did I say bitch? I meant slut. Look at them, one of them has never seen a Twinkee that she hasn't liked and the other thinks that 1989 never ended. You and your Old Milwaukee drinking, pork rind eating, no deodorant using friend have made poor choices in finding a mate. Now good day, Sir."

I felt a blow to the back of my head.

Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the four fuzzy navels that I funneled, maybe it was really nothing, but in any event I turned around and cold-cocked the fucker. BAM! Blood and snot went everywhere, the guy even fell out of his wheelchair.

Aqualad was in shock and sort of stood there, but no matter, I climbed over the wheelchair and went for his buddy, who was trying to hobble his way into the car. Too bad crutches make for poor instruments of retreat. I grabbed one of the crutches and smashed him on the back of the head, "How do you like that, bitch? Huh? You like that?" I kept hitting him.

The girls were running and screaming, "Call the cops! Call my parents! Call the home!"

Call my parents? These douchewhistles weren't so tough when the chips were down, were they? After the crutch-bound jerkface was down, I picked up both of his walking instruments and threw them at their women, nailing each of them square in the back. Both went down, one crushed her callostamy bag, the other's back brace slammed into the back of her head. Two birds, two stones, how's that for awesomeness?

"See that twats," I asked. "All you have to do is be nice. We're at a KISS concert, everyone should be nice, but noooooooooo, you had to be bitches. Well, you plant sea cucumbers, you get sea cucumbers."

At this point, a large crowd of people had gathered, they were horrified by what happened. I turned to Aqualad, "Make me another drink and lets go in. The show's about to start."

We downed a few more drinks and walked into the concert. I don't remember too much about but during, "King of the Nightime World" a battalion of the cops came to our section and grabbed two guys dressed as Vinnie Vincent and Paul Stanley. As they were beating them about the heads with batons, one shrieked, "What did we do?"

The cop answered, "You murdered four retards and we have the witnesses to prove it. You're going away for a long time!"

See that? That's karma my friends, I tried to be nice and something nice happened to me. Aquaman out!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

God has a name ...

And it's David Ortiz.

(Thanks to bostondirtdogs.com for the pic)

The Sox have been playing about .500 for the last two or three weeks, and worse than that, they've been playing without any spark. They'd win one, lose one, win two in a row, lose three in a row, sunrise, sunset. Today, they were on the verge of losing a tough game to the first-place Baltimore Orioles.

The O's scored one in the ninth to break a 3-3 deadlock and their ace closer, BJ Ryan was coming in from the pen. It looked like a typical Sox loss, twice bases loaded opportunities went by the board, Matt Clement pitched ok but not great and Ketih Foulke looked snakebit. But something happened, Mark Bellhorn singles, Kevin Youkilis Ks and then Edgar Renteria bunts for a hit. Men on first and second and up steps Big Papi.

He runs the count to 3-2 and then unloads a lazer into the blacked-out seat section of the bleachers. Just a tremendous clout. Game over, enjoy the ride home. Here's the thing about walkoff homers and Ortiz, he's done it five times in his brief (a little over two years) Sox career. FIVE TIMES, and did the deed twice in last year's playoffs.

Though I may not understand every single statstic, I lean towards the Sabremetrician way of thinking, mostly that stats are the best indicator of how good a ball player really is, but Ortiz is a man that comes along once a generation. For some uncanny reason, this dude just has a flair for the dramatic especially on the big stages. I doubt that there is any real way of proving how "clutch" someone is, but if there was Ortiz would have to be off the charts.

Basball is a funny game as it's amazing to me that this guy was once fighting for playing time behind Jeremy Giambi. Now he's in the upper echelon of power hitters, a couple more ding-dong Johnsons like this one (and the two he hit on Sunday at Yankee Stadium) and Ortiz will be staring at the 2005 American League Most Valuable Player award.

On the Boston Sports Media board, someone compared Ortiz to Tom Brady, and I have to agree. More often than not, this guy doesn't just rise to the occasion, he stands the fuck up and knocks the occasion on its ass. With last year's departure of Pedro Martinez, I believe that I have found a new favorite player, and his name is David Ortiz.

I just finished reading this tome on the flight home from Atlanta:

In April of 1992 I was trying to plow through "Helter Skelter", get off the baseball bench and figure out how to nail Leah Murphy without Rebecca Donahue knowing. During this time, other people were planning real adventures with their lives. One of these people was a person by the name of Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp.

Two years previous, McCandless graduated Atlanta's Emory University, told his parents that he's going to take "some time off" and began an adventure that most people only dream of. Did I mention that McCandless decided to leave all trappings of society behind him? He took the $24,000 he had in his savings account and donated it to a hunger relief organization, abandoned his car and most of his possessions in an Arizona desert and just began living the life of a nomad.

All along the west coast, McCandless hitched from one experience to the next. He lived in a few comunes, worked at a grain elevator in South Dakota, a McDonalds in San Diego and just wandered. Inspired by Emerson and Tolstoy he decided it was time for the "ultimate adventure", he was going up to Alaska to live in the wilderness with nothing more than a book on edible plants, a really crappy gun, a travel fishing pole, some books and the clothes on his back.

He never made it out alive.

Krakauer tries to piece together a few things in this book:

1. Why did McCandless do this?
2. What happened to the guy, how did he really die?
3. Why does Krakauer feel such an attachment to McCandless?

The writer does a terrific job with the first two questions. Drawing on McCandless' friends, family and people that picked him up while hitch hiking, we are able to get a good picture of what drove this upper-middle class into the wilderness. From McCandless' diaries and snapshots, Krakauer was able to piece together the last few days of his life, especially the agonizing way that he died.

The final question is where the book gets a little soupy, it's pretty obvious that Krakauer ran into a wall with the book's subject, he originally had written this tale as a story for Outdoor magazine, and it seems like he needed to fill up a few chapters. In order to do this, he wrote one chapter about the other famous men who were lost and presumed dead in the Pacific Northwest (which was really interesting) and a chapter about him trying to climb Devil's Thumb in Alaska.

This wasn't too bad, but it was sort of clummisily written. While it gave a first-hand account of the perserverance that McCandless needed, it was also melodramatic and seemed to plod along. Plus, I wanted to find out more about McCandless.

All in all, this was a fascinating book about what goes through someone's mind when they just have enough of modern life and decide to move to the sticks. At one point or another, every man has wanted to do it, but it's much harder than it looks. If you aren't well prepared and always careful, you can wind up dead, which might be the escape that McCandless was actually looking for.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Coming back from Atlanta

I was down South for a couple of days, did you miss me? I'm sure that you did. The reason for the sojourn to Dixie? Aly's niece, Samantha, was getting baptised. This meant that the whole Manasso brood was to descend on Atlanta like Sherman, destroying everything in our paths until we got to the ocean.

Ok. Not really, but there was a bunch of us: Aly, me, Lauren and Bob, Jackie and Roy plus John's wife Christie's family. It was quite a Yankee (Northern folk, not the damned team from New York) army down there. We landed on Saturday, said some pleasantries and went to the greatest store in the world, Distant Replays.

I know I wrote about this place last year, but it bears repeating, this place is like a museum where you can buy the aritifacts. I got a t-shirt with this logo on it:

I think it's pretty damn cool, but Aly hates it. I also nabbed a mid 80s Houston Astros hat. Maybe it will bring the Sox the luck that my 1986 Seattle Mariners hat brought to the team last year. This is what it looks like:

Following that we went back to John and Christie's house where they had a barbeque waiting. Good stuff, John made his own sausage and also had hot dogs and burgers grilling up. We sat around for most of the night eating, drinking beers, swapping stories until we decided to head over to the Brick Store Pub.

This place was really cool, check it out here:

Brick Store Pub

There is a flash presentation, but it's ok. Just wait the 15 seconds. They don't have many American beers, the only states stuff is microbrews, but they have a ton of European brews. I tried a Paulaner, and while I probably won't buy a six pack of the stuff soon, it wasn't too bad. I then had a couple pints of the old standby, Guiness.

The cool thing is that each beer came in it's own glass. I wanted to nab the Paulaner one, but I just had nowhere to put it. Next time.

On Sunday, we had the Christening to go to. Standard church stuff, the priest was from Slovakia, so much of his homily/service was tough to understand, but he seemed like a good enough guy. Joey was a little rambunctious, and there was a bit of drama, but all in all, it was a fine time.

When we got back to the house, the caterers were already there. And it was Mexican food. I ate like a damn pig, but I didn't give a shit, the food was that good. Man, I wish we can cater our wedding with Mexican food. Maybe next time I'll marry a Mexican chick.

We were all beat from staying up late, so we went back to the hotel room and watched the Sox lay the smack down on the Yanks 8-2, this the day after thoroughly whipping them 17-1. Not a bad way to spend a weekend in the Bronx.

Monday, we did nothing. We rented, "Meet the Fockers", it blew. Everyone in the flick didn't act, they sped read their lines and slept walked through the entire movie. It was obvious they were in it for the cash.

And then on Tuesday we left. If it seems like we didn't do much, it's because we didn't. It was very relaxing and that was part of the reason why we had such a good time. More tomorrow.